NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The State Theatre announced Thursday that it was canceling an upcoming performance by the comedian Kathy Griffin, a move that has pleased some and outraged others.
Griffin thrust herself to the center of a national controversy after she appeared in photos holding a mask that resembled President Donald Trump’s bloodied, severed head. A number of shows on her “Celebrity Run-In Tour,” including one booked for Bergen County, got the ax this week. Griffin was also fired from her New Year’s Eve gig with CNN.
Griffin was due to play the State Theatre in downtown New Brunswick as part of its 2017-18 season.
“After careful consideration of recent events and for the safety of our patrons, Kathy Griffin’s November 3rd performance has been canceled,” the theater company wrote on Facebook.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the State Theatre had received any threats due to the scheduled Griffin show. TAPinto New Brunswick is waiting to hear back from the group.
The theater vowed to issue full refunds to ticket buyers. People who bought them through Ticketmaster should call 800-745-3000.
The mock-decapitation sowed disapproval from people on both the left and the right. But reactions have been mixed, as others claimed right-wingers like Ted Nugent didn’t face similar consequences after threatening violence against President Barack Obama.
That tension has gripped much of the country, and it continued to unfold in the comment section beneath the State Theatre’s Facebook announcement. As of press time, the post had elicited 428 reactions, nearly 150 comments and 92 shares.
A user named RJaye D’Mingo noted that Nugent played the State Theatre in July 2012, three months after he said, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year,” according to the website Politifact.
“I don’t like what either one said or did — both are despicable — but they each had the right to express their guaranteed free speech,” D’Mingo wrote. “At least Griffin realized it was wrong and apologized.”
Several people questioned the State Theatre’s safety concerns, as well. Some claimed the group was “pandering” to Republicans.
But many commentors wrote in favor of the move.
“I am standing with management,” a user named Jane Herron wrote. “No President should be attacked in as hateful a manner as this.”
Some applauded the move and thanked the State Theatre for “doing the right thing,” while others vowed to no longer patronize the venue.