Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but there were these owners who gathered in New York City (or Albany or Buffalo) calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow them to reopen their businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic even as riskier enterprises were allowed to open.

Sound familiar? The set-up sure does. And so does the punch line. But this isn’t funny.

This time, Kambri Crews, owner of QED Astoria, led a rally outside the New York Comedy Club in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to review a five-page proposal submitted by comedy club owners detailing how their venues can safely reopen as COVID-19 rages on.

Comedy club owners asked the state to give live entertainment the same consideration given to other industries.

Now, here comes the punch line, courtesy of QED Astoria owner Kambri Crews: “Shame on them, really.”

The owners’ proposal includes safety measures for reopening performing art spaces and indoor or outdoor events with restrictions.

Comedy club owners say they are drowning, and we haven’t mentioned the plight of live theater and movie theaters. Appealing to state leaders, Crews said: “Throw us a lifeline instead of pushing us deeper into debt.”

The state’s failure to reopen comedy clubs and movie theaters seems an arbitrary distinction as businesses, including gyms, were allowed to reopen.

Why are gyms safe? Why are New York movie theaters closed when they are open in 47 other states?

But there’s a caveat here: Domestic movie theater attendance is abysmal since the reopening and box-office grosses are at record lows. It seems few people want to sit in a closed room with other people coughing for two hours.

So comedy club owners have joined movie theater owners to plead for a reopening of some kind before the laughter stops for good.

We are scratching and clawing through an unprecedented health crisis, but we are floundering at the recovery. We are not paying enough attention to reviving our businesses before it is too late.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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