Owners of a comedy club in Austin, Texas are seeking to remove their neighbors–a church– from a strip mall because the praise and worship activities from the church is interfering with local business.
Rich Miller, co-owner of the Cap City Comedy Club told reporters from the Wall Street Journal that the noise from church services is coming through their walls and making it difficult for patrons to hear comedians during performances.
The owner of the strip mall has asked the Fresh Oil Family Fellowship Church to leave at the end of the year but they refuse to go.
Bishop Nathan Thomas , the founder and pastor of the Pentecostal church said he will fight in court against what he perceives as religious “bigotry and racism” and has organized several “Jokes vs Jesus” protests in front of the club.
(We)”can’t walk away from its assignment, “We’re changing lives,” said Thomas to reporters.
Bishop Thomas, who wears his shoulder-length hair in braids and uses his blackberry as a cheat sheet when preaching, says he is trying to steer his flock away from the stiffness of traditional church services. Fresh Oil’s Bible study, held every Wednesday evening, is accompanied by booming drums, keyboards and microphone-enhanced singing — and this is proving a problem for the performers at the comedy club next door.
“Stand-up is a very constructed experience,” said Mr. French, who’s written for David Letterman and Dennis Miller. “If there’s any distraction at all it doesn’t work.”
At Cap City, which opened its doors more than 20 years ago, audience members are asked to silence their cellphones during shows and waiters move gently about the tables so nothing gets between punch lines and the audience.
The club’s business and Fresh Oil’s services next door “are not compatible,” said Rich Miller, one of the club’s owners.
George Shakiban, the landlord, said Bishop Thomas is confusing a legitimate request to vacate the premises with prejudice. Aside from playing loud music, Fresh Oil breached a long-term rental contract because its security deposit check bounced, he said.
“At the end of the day this is a business,” said Mr. Shakiban, who is based in California.
Bishop Thomas said the check was good and that Fresh Oil is being bullied out of the strip mall because it is a black church.
“I’m not going nowhere till a judge hears our case,” he said.
What do you think?