- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2018

Comedian Steve McGrew says his conservative views on social media cost him a recurring gig at a Las Vegas comedy club run by “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Brad Garrett.

And he’s not alone, as more conservative comics say they’re finding it harder to win gigs in the Era of Trump because their opinions don’t conform to the mainstream of the entertainment industry.

According to texts provided to The Washington Times by Mr. McGrew, Mr. Garrett said he was sickened by the comedian’s social media posts supporting President Trump and used an expletive to describe the administration. The sitcom star went on to tell Mr. McGrew that his conservative views are taking down the country.

The out-of-nowhere attack on his beliefs stunned Mr. McGrew who said he has been friends with Mr. Garrett since they were struggling comedians in the late 1980s and early 1990s — long before Mr. Garrett made it big, netting three Emmy Awards and two other nominations.

“I was shocked to hear this because we’ve worked together for so long,” Mr. McGrew said. “We’ve been friends since we both started and never had any problems with our different political beliefs. We both talked about voting for other people in the [2016] election and joked about it.”

Mr. Garrett did not respond to phone calls seeking comment and giving him a chance dispute the authenticity of the texts.

His reaction makes Mr. McGrew the latest comic to run into trouble because of anti-Trump sentiment in the industry.

Comedian Michael Loftus said his former job as host of the right-wing comedy show “The Flipside” has left him blackballed in Hollywood, and he’s had trouble finding takers for a bipartisan television talk show he’s pitching.

“Executives specifically told us they can’t been seen as even remotely supporting the right,” he said. “They tell us they love what they are hearing, but won’t move forward with the show or even film a pilot because they don’t want to appear sympathetic to the right.”

Owen Benjamin, another conservative comic, has changed his business model to duck protests at his shows. He now rents out venues with his own money, then sells tickets through his website and emails the location to fans just hours before he’s set to take the stage.

Mr. Loftus said conservatives need to find ways to compete in comedy, or else they’ll lose access to some younger Americans whose political awareness increasingly comes from liberal late-night comedy programs like “The Daily Show” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

“It’s easy to forget about entertainment but that is where the next generation of voters come from,” he said. “Politics is downstream from pop culture and if the right doesn’t get involved with pop culture, it’s a matter of time before the right won’t exist.”

For Mr. McGrew, his boss’s breaking point apparently came over the summer when Mr. Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy led to thousands of illegal immigrant children being sent to government shelters while their parents were jailed for jumping the border.

Mr. Garrett compared the separations to Nazi Germany, according to text messages shared with The Times on condition that they not be quoted from directly.

Mr. Garrett’s Twitter page catalogs his dislike for the president. In a tweet last week, he called Mr. Trump “a sick bastard,” and last week he described the president as “a jackass” and an “orange maniac.”

Mr. McGrew, who had appeared as a regular at Mr. Garrett’s club since it opened nearly a decade ago, says he’s now out two weeks of steady work along with several thousand dollars of income each year.

He said he’s particularly surprised because he avoids politics in his act.

“I’m not up on stage saying ‘Trump is the man,’” he said. “I’ve never been big on political material, especially in clubs because its where people come to laugh. Why do you want to divide a room?”

But Mr. McGrew’s social media pages are unabashedly pro-Trump, including a YouTube channel chronicling the adventures of his Liberal Larry character, a satire of progressive thought.

Twitter recently suspended Mr. McGrew’s account, but he insists he did not tweet anything to violate its terms of service. Twitter does not provide specific reasons for severing the account.

Representatives at the MGM Grand, where the comedy club is based, said Mr. Garrett chooses his comedians. A woman who answered the phone at Mr. Garrett’s agency directed calls back to the comedy club.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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