Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pressed and Repressed

I always enjoy performing, but some weeks are just better than others. Whilst life on the road is a continual roller coaster, sometimes the hills are high enough to erase the memory of the valleys, without resorting to traditional over-the-counter amnesia inducements. Great weeks, like the one I recently completed in Minneapolis, are the reasons why I got into this business in the first place.

I engaged in a little civil disobedience the week I was there. Minneapolis recently became one of the newest cities to be attacked by the well moneyed anti-smoking lobby. Several "non-profit" entities like the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society have been running a multi-million dollar propaganda campaign to convince Minnesotans that second-hand smoke is deadlier than poverty.

Those who draw their extravagant salaries from corporate funded non-profit organizations have little regard for working class people, whose jobs are threatened by smoking bans. Since the passage of the non-smoking ordinance, 37 Minneapolis bars and restaurants have closed their doors forever. This has caused a subsequent wave of unemployment in the hospitality industry, and ripples have been felt throughout the regional economy. I thought it was time someone spoke up for the little guys.

Since I am a performer, I am allowed certain liberties on stage. For instance if smoking is part of a theatrical performance, it cannot be banned without putting the first amendment in jeopardy. I know that sounds somewhat ridiculous, but if the Supreme Court has decided that setting a flag on fire is protected speech, the same constitutional protections must extend to a cigar.

By stretching the extent of the stage (or for those of a theatrical background, expanding the fourth wall into the audience) I was able to allow at least one last smoking show at Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis. I would have done it all week, but I have to confess, there was so much smoke in that room Thursday night, that even an old aficionado like myself found the atmosphere quite unbearable.

Thanks to the crack staff at Acme, my little stunt became quite the topic of conversation. Here's an article that the Star Tribune wrote about the event. I also made the 10 O'clock News! Here are clips in MPEG and WMV.

Meanwhile an old friend, Maura Flynn, who is working on a documentary about the smoking bans decided to capture the event. Here's an article about the documentary (registration required).


  • The LP of MN members had a great time Thursday night defying the Mpls smoking ordinance with you. Thanks for the comps, and keep up the great work!

    By Blogger Insurgent, at 10:50 PM, November 05, 2005  

  • it's good you spoke up, but now - in October of 2007 - the madness you speak if is spreading to the entire state!

    i think humans will adjust to these public smoking bans. Some of the smokers will still go out and carry on with their lives. Don't think they can't do it - they are a strong people. They wont let the big man of NPO's hold them down. And at the same time, a few non smokers might venture out into territories that used to be contaminated by smoke. And someday, perhaps, we will all live as one.

    By Blogger Darin, at 7:18 PM, August 20, 2007  

  • Actually, we are entering into the New Age of Prohibition. In New York, home to one of the nations first smoking bans, "Smoke Easys" are popping up.

    I predict the fad will sweep the US, and underground smoking clubs will become the cool hang-outs of the next decade.

    Rather than cut the amount of smoking, these bans will eventually encourage it. I predict that the rate of youth smoking will skyrocket, as kids eager to join in on the new fad, take generous bites, of the new forbidden fruit.

    By Blogger Tim Slagle, at 7:44 PM, August 20, 2007  

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