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With NYC comedy clubs reopening, what jokes are fair game?

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Judy Gold is ready to shed tears.

“I want to cry with joy. I cannot wait to get on stage at a club and bare my soul,” the New York-based stand-up comic told The Post. When the city’s comedy clubs finally reopen on April 2, at 25 percent capacity, things will be different than they were pre-pandemic.

New lines of taste have been drawn with the events of the past year: COVID deaths, political divisions, racially-motivated violence and civil unrest.

But, cancel culture be damned, Gold — whose summer 2020 performances outside the Bel Aire Diner in Astoria had her playing to patrons inside their cars in a parking lot: “Hey, Mercedes! What’s your problem? You don’t like Jew jokes?” — and her comrades in comedy are ready.

“I hate the idea of ‘too soon.’ No topics are off-limits as long as the jokes are funny,” she warned, before freestyling a bit related to the Boulder shootings: “Now when I pick up milk, I need to remember to leave the house with a mask — plus mace and a bullet-proof vest.”

Some of NYC’s most famous comedy clubs

According to Cris Italia, co-owner of The Stand NYC in Union Square, comedians have to find an equilibrium that balances funny and offensive.

“We can all relate to feeling trapped for the last year, that we’ve been losing it because we can’t leave the house,” Italia told The Post. “Laughing at that can make it okay. It’s not joking about people dying but joking about the human condition we all contend with.”

Although Jay Leno set a politically correct, highly contrite tone this past week when he said he’s sorry for making anti-Asian jokes in the past, don’t expect many others to follow suit.

Acerbic standup Aaron Berg — the subject of the documentary “25 Sets,” he describes himself as being “on the front-lines of the anti-woke pushback” — already has a Boulder joke of his own. It’s centered on the ways in which different races flee mass shootings. “Brothers are laying back, low in the seat, listening to music, slowly driving away,” he said. “White guys are leaning forward, stressed out, holding the steering wheel tight and [robotically] saying, ‘Ten and 2 … Ten and 2 … We must evacuate these premises.’”

And Gold, author of “Yes, I Can Say That,” will be hitting the stage insurrection-ready: “How did the insurrectionists defecate on-command in people’s offices? Did they meet and strategize about having bran muffins and coffee at 11 o’clock so they could be ready at 2? And the guy who s–t on someone’s desk is complaining about sharing a bathroom with trans people … ”

In 2001, weeks after 9/11, Gilbert Gottfried made a joke onstage at the Friars Club about “having a flight to California” stopping “at the Empire State Building first” that compelled an audience member to shout “Too soon … ” amid collective boos. Twenty years later, he laments the culture of sorry.

“It’s as if the whole world is your wife,” Gottfried told The Post. “You apologize 24 hours a day, whether you did something wrong or not.”

Comedians that frequent NYC’s comedy clubs

As for whether it’s too soon for COVID jokes, Gottfried, who hosts Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, does not think so: “I’ve told bad taste jokes when I’m on stage and I continue to. So if there was something funny for me to say about COVID, I would say it.”

One comedian who’ll be trying to avoid that is Wali Collins. Though he describes himself as “more of a clean, clever comic,” he recently unspooled a joke that received more gasps than laughs.

Collins, who is African American, found himself working on a tiny stage in a makeshift club downtown (operating in a gray-zone prior to April 2). Considering the confined area and a completely white audience, he joked, “This could either be a comedy show or a slave auction.”

Recalled Collins, “Everyone in the crowd said, ‘Oooooh.’ And I asked, ‘Is it too soon? Do I have to wait another 200 years?’”

As he learned that night, “Across the board, people are more easily offended [now than they were before]. Making a joke about people dying of COVID will upset people — like, if you say that you kind of wish some other people got it and died — but comics want to provoke and take risks and push to the edge.”

Collins even has a kinder, gentler COVID joke for those who want to shove just a little bit: “I went to a friend’s apartment and the decorations were tacky. Apparently he had COVID, because he had no taste.”

But, Collins acknowledged, “For my character on stage, it’s too soon. I’ll wait a few months until more people are vaccinated. No matter what you say, though, you will offend somebody.”

Gottfried agrees — and he’s looking forward to the inevitable fallout. Just not for himself. “Nowadays,” he said, “I enjoy watching other people getting in trouble. I like to sit back, relax and see somebody else being destroyed by the public.”



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Alleged NYC Capitol rioter wanted to be ‘where the action was’

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An alleged rioter from Brooklyn surrendered to the FBI Tuesday morning after telling investigators he breached the US Capitol because he wanted to be “where the action was,” court papers allege.

A tipster identified Dovid Schwartzberg in photos and video wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap and black face mask tucked under his chin during the Jan. 6 siege that left five dead.



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Derek Chauvin found guilty of all charges in murder of George Floyd

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Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd.


What You Need To Know

    • Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty in the murder of George Floyd
    • Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter
    • Floyd, 46, died in May 2020 when police tried to arrest him on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store
  • Floyd died as Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the Black man was pinned to the pavement and handcuffed after struggling with officers in the back seat of a squad car

Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

He faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to a decade for second-degree manslaughter – up to 75 years in all.

Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks, and his bail has been revoked. The ex-cop was led away from the courtroom in handcuffs.

Floyd, 46, died in May 2020 when police tried to arrest him on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store. Floyd died as Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the Black man was pinned to the pavement and handcuffed after struggling with officers in the back seat of a squad car.

Floyd repeatedly cried that he couldn’t breathe as concerned onlookers shouted for Chauvin to stop and took cellphone video that would help spark a wave of widespread protests and unrest last summer.

Prosecutors argued that Floyd was not a threat to anyone and that Chauvin did not follow his training by using such force on Floyd. The officer “had to know” that kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds would kill him, prosecutor Steve Schleicher said during closing arguments Monday.

“He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. He wasn’t trying to do anything to anyone,” Schleicher said of Floyd. “Facing George Floyd that day that did not require one ounce of courage. And none was shown on that day. No courage was required. All that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day.”

The prosecution’s parade of witnesses included eyewitnesses as well as current and former police officers. Minneapolis’ police chief and a former supervisory sergeant both testified the Chauvin could have ended his restraint of his Floyd after the suspect stopped resisting.

The defense tried to convince jurors that Floyd’s illicit drug use and existing heart disease were the causes of his death, not Chauvin’s knee upon his neck. Chauvin’s lawyer attorney Eric Nelson also argued that his client used a reasonable amount of force to restrain Floyd.

“The futility of their efforts became apparent — they weren’t able to get him into the car,” Nelson said during his closing arguments. “Three Minneapolis police officers were unable to get Mr. Floyd into the car.”

In a statement, Floyd’s legal team, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his co-council, called the verdict “painfully earned justice for the Floyd family and community.”

Lawmakers also offered their reactions following the guilty verdict.

“This guilty verdict serves as an official proclamation of what so many of us have known for nearly a year: George Floyd was murdered by an officer who was sworn to protect and serve,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement. “However, we should not mistake a guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been solved or that the divide between law enforcement and so many of the communities they serve has been bridged.”

“We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring meaningful change to police departments across the country,” he added. “The Senate will continue that work as we strive to ensure George Floyd’s tragic death will not be in vain.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the verdict “a step in the right direction for justice” at a press conference with members of Democratic House leadership and the Congressional Black Caucus.

“This is just the first step,” CBC chair Joyce Beatty (D-OH) said. “We know that there are still the mothers, the families, the children who are shedding tears today because a verdict will not bring back their family members.”

“We are hopeful today will be the catalyst to turn the pain, agony, the justice delayed into action,” Beatty added.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican in the Senate, said in a statement that “there is no question in my mind that the jury reached the right verdict.”

“The jury’s verdict delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd,” progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in a statement. “Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person.”

“The trauma and tragedy of George Floyd’s murder must never leave us,” Sanders added. “It was a manifestation of a system that callously devalues the lives of Black people. Our struggle now is about justice — not justice on paper, but real justice in which all Americans live their lives free of oppression. We must boldly root out the cancer of systemic racism and police violence against people of color.”

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will address the nation later Tuesday evening, according to the White House.

“The President and the Vice President watched the verdict with staff in the Private Dining Room,” according to the pool. “Following the announcement of the verdict, the President spoke with Governor Tim Walz. The President, the Vice President, & the First Lady spoke with Philonise Floyd”

“True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again,” he added.

Dozens of people gathered outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis to hear the verdict. When it was read, the crowd erupted in a mix of cheers and tears.

Outside of the Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered last year, bystanders began throwing dollar bills in celebration. Some people brought flowers, laying them on the ground where Floyd took his final breaths. Others prayed next to paintings and images of Floyd, honoring a life cut short.

Many seemed to be in a state of shock, saying they couldn’t believe a police officer was convicted for murdering a Black person.

But the overwhelming feeling across the city was one of joy. Chants of “Justice!” and “Black lives matter” rang out across Minneapolis, from George Floyd Square to the steps of the Hennepin county courthouse.



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To curb gun violence, de Blasio goes to last year’s failed NYPD plan

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Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to curb the surging gun violence in NYC is to try out the failed policing strategy from last year — but this time, with 100 fewer cops.

The NYPD will reassign 200 cops to areas where the Big Apple has seen the highest rates of gun violence as part of their annual Summer All Out program, the mayor said Tuesday.

NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said the “bulk” of those cops would be moved to East New York and Brownsville, which have seen gun violence upticks of 67% and 88%, respectively.

He also noted Bronx neighborhoods, Mott Haven, Highbridge and Crotona, would get some additional patrols.

But all of those areas were also a policing focus last year during the summer when the city saw a months-long surge in gun violence and assigned 300 cops to the “Summer All Out” initiative.

Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on April 19, 2021.
Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on April 19, 2021.
Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

“We’re going to make sure that the officers are where we need them to be and we’ll make adjustments constantly,” de Blasio said when asked about the similarities to last year’s plan, which failed to combat the surge in gunplay.

De Blasio chalked up 2020’s skyrocketing shooting totals to the effect the pandemic had on the city.

“Last year again. Perfect Storm. Literal Perfect Storm. Global pandemic. Society shut down, a million jobs lost… everything went wrong simultaneously,” the mayor said, brushing off any comparison to this year.

Yet, gunplay in New York City still continues the 2020 trend — outpacing the year prior each week.

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The mayor’s office also announced gun buyback programs, “Saturday Night Lights” games, the fixing up of 15 basketball courts and anti-violence fairs to help slow the number of shootings.

The NYPD tried all those strategies last year too.

The city will double its Cure Violence workforce and Summer Youth Anti-Violence employment slots, expand gang-free zones to parks and double the tip reward to $5,000.



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