By Julianne Mosher
Long Island comedian Mike Keegan has been banned from any future performances on the Theatre Three stage after he tweeted a joke about Greta Thunberg that some say referenced sexual assault.
The tweet, posted last Tuesday, talked about the 16-year-old climate activist and how “as soon as the Democrats are done exploiting her, they’re gonna [sic] send her off to Epstein Island” — referencing Jeffrey Epstein, the late financier and convicted sex offender who was accused of bringing and abusing unescorted young girls on his private island.
On Sept. 25 at 3:57 p.m., the theater posted on its Facebook page a statement that read, “To Our Patrons: Theatre Three in no way condones the inappropriate comments made by stand-up comedian Mike Keegan about a child activist. He will never again appear on the Theatre Three stage. Thank you, The Staff and Board of Theatre Three.”
The comedian said the tweet was largely misunderstood.
“Apparently some people were upset with a joke that I made on social media which was wildly misinterpreted,” Keegan said. “They then felt that it was necessary to reach out to a venue, that I have performed at in the past, to suggest that they not hire me to perform.”
Vivian Koutrakos, the theater’s managing director, declined to comment.
Keegan said the theater did not tell him he was no longer being used and that Theatre Three “decided to make a very public post on their social media page which garnered a lot of attention.” The 36-year-old comedian said that he has always had a “great relationship with this venue,” so he was upset that they could not contact him directly.
“I respect the decision that was made by the venue as they have every right to dictate who performs on their stage,” Keegan said. “There is an abundance of talented comedians here on Long Island. I just wish they would have had the respect to contact
Comments on Facebook were divided, with some saying the tweet was in terrible taste and they supported the theater’s decision. Others said they felt this was censorship and mentioned they would not patronize the theater. The comedian asked people to continue supporting the arts.
“This was extremely unprofessional and the whole thing was handled terribly on their end,” Keegan said. “This is a historic venue on Long Island that celebrates the arts and I encourage people to continue to patronize them. I do not hold the theater responsible because they made a business decision.”
Although Keegan was disappointed about the theater’s post, he added he is more disappointed in the people who didn’t get the joke.
“My frustration falls upon the people who misinterpret something that is said and feel that it is necessary to take work away from somebody without a comprehensive understanding of what was written,” he said. “They are the ones who need to be exposed for attempting to censor free speech.”