Guest Editorial: No Stage Time For Piven – Kelsey McClure

Editor’s Note: Kelsey McClure is a comic in St. Louis, MO.  She also ran Comedy In The Lou, which once served as the only dependable source for information about the STL Comedy Scene.  She has worked with national headliners on stage, and has interviewed them for print and digital media.   Her opinions are her own. I agree that these are discussions worth having and it doesn’t do us any good to pretend these issues don’t exist. – CDC

I was able to interview T.J. Miller in 2014 before two sold out shows at The Firebird for The Riverfront Times and it was a career highlight. Never had an interview been so relaxed and light hearted. As the interview wrapped, he told me to find him at the show as he owed me a beer. I did, and with a full, warm-hearted embrace he hugged me and thanked me for the interview. I have reveled in the experience since and probably with a few drinks in, bragged that T.J. Miller knows my name.

This morning T.J. Miller taunted me and boasted that like Jeremy Piven, he too will see me in St. Louis. Rewind.

Yesterday I tweeted about a Denver open mic that shamed T.J. Miller off stage in hopes of setting an example for the debut of Jeremy Piven at Helium Comedy Club. Piven’s three-day, five-show run begins tonight. The timing is downright disastrous with the incarceration of Bill Cosby, outing of Aziz Ansari and most notably Louis CK (who has already found his way back to a stage) what comedy does not need right now is not another predator with a platform. We are also at the crux of the #BelieveWomen movement, a result of our country being neck deep in the Kavanaugh hearings. So it was not within me to sit silent and think, “gross.”

My course of action included posting on social media, a couple ugly and fierce pillow cries and reaching out to Helium Comedy Club as well as a number of news and entertainment outlets in St. Louis. T.J. Miller is an excellent comedian who too is a sexual predator because I #BelieveWomen. He is not welcome to take the stage from, while maybe not decent, but certainly less controversial comedians. Jeremy Piven, however, is not a stand up comedian which follows at a close second as to why he too is not welcome to take the stage in St. Louis. Jeremy Piven has taken to stand up when his television career bottomed out on account of the sexual assault allegations made against him. ‘Lil homie doesn’t even have an album under his belt, no Netflix Special or even a Comedy Central Half Hour. Which begs the questions, what is it he intends to do at a comedy club?

Sexual predators do not deserve a platform in St. Louis. There are eight allegations against Piven and one against Miller. Miller was also arrested for slapping an Uber driver.

I demand St. Louis continue to be a safe and productive place for comics to approach the most difficult, dark and intimidating topics on stage. If we lend our platform to predators like Jeremy Piven (and now T.J. Miller in December), we will lose what we have worked so painstakingly to create, an art form that is re-defined every time a comedian takes to a microphone.

There are no prerequisites for sexual assault. We have learned who sexual predators are and who they can become (i.e. Supreme Court Justices) and I, Kelsey McClure, a distinctively average comedian, will not stand to lend my stage to any of their sort. In my city, in St. Fucking Louis, sexual assaulters do not get a platform.

So while Piven is making his rounds on various entertainment (105.7 The Point) and news (Fox 2) platforms in St. Louis to promote his shows… Here I am, asking you, yes, you specifically, to take the lead and start a conversation. Do you #BelieveWomen and if so, what is to be done?