New York City may be coming back from the dead — but its comedy scene is still six feet under.
An Upper West Side comedy club — whose co-owner declared the Big Apple “dead” in a viral essay last summer — sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, claiming the lawmaker’s executive order to shut down the venue nearly a year ago violated the U.S. constitution.
Stand Up New York, which is owned by Dani Zoldan and viral essayist James Altucher, argues in the Manhattan federal court suit that Cuomo has unequally enforced lockdown restrictions by lifting some of the limitations on restaurants and movie theaters, while the club is forced to remain shut.
“Movie theaters, jazz dinner theaters, churches, SNL, billiard halls, event venues for weddings, casinos, restaurants and bars with live music, bowling alleys, sporting event venues, film houses, museums, aquariums, gym and fitness centers are permitted to reopen in New York,” the Manhattan federal court suit states. “But comedy venues are not permitted to reopen.”
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The suit is seeking a permanent injunction that will block the state’s shutdown orders from keeping the club closed.
It argues that the unequal enforcement deprives the owners of rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, which ensures equal protection of the law to all U.S. citizens.
It’s also just plain frustrating, Zoldan told The Post.
“It’s extremely frustrating, especially lately, to see everything opening up around us,” he said.
“Restaurants, their capacity increased to 35 percent. Bowling alleys are open, pool halls are open. Basically every single industry is open at this point in some capacity, but for some reason comedy clubs and music venues are still closed,” he added.
Zoldan — whose club has been organizing shows outdoors and on subway trains through the pandemic — added that the business has still received little to no guidance from the state or the federal government as to when it will be able to open back up.
The club owner has repeatedly blasted the restrictions imposed on the state, highlighting to Page Six in December that “SNL” is allowed to film indoors, in front of an audience, while his club remains shut.
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In August, the co-owner Altucher penned a controversial post claiming the city was “dead forever” because of the restrictions imposed to combat the pandemic.
“Now it’s completely dead. ‘But NYC always always bounces back.’ No. Not this time. ‘But NYC is the center of the financial universe. Opportunities will flourish here again.’ Not this time. NYC has experienced worse.’ No, it hasn’t,” Altucher wrote in the essay.
The screed inspired an op-ed in response from comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who insisted the city would survive.
A rep for Cuomo did not immediately respond.
To read more from The New York Post, click here.
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