Last month The Comedy Studio, a cathedral for local comedians, announced it would soon be closing its doors while actively looking to relocate from its home of more than 20 years over the Hong Kong Restaurant in Harvard Square. Nostalgia, support, and real estate suggestions flooded in following news of the decision, with members of the Cambridge community getting behind the effort to keep the comedy club in the city of Cambridge.
Now that attention has shifted from The Comedy Studio finding a new home to scrutiny over a controversial booking that has sparked outrage.
On September 21, one-time Boston comedy club regular Chris Allen Oake was confirmed to appear at the Comedy Studio alongside 10 other comedians. Oake was in 2012 convicted of multiple counts of child pornography and sentenced to 64 months in prison. According to the Department of Justice, the Acton man pleaded guilty before a Massachusetts judge to “transportation of child pornography, two counts of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.”
Court documents state that “Oake was an active member of a private, members-only website that was largely dedicated to child pornography and child erotica. Thousands of images of child pornography and child erotica were found in well-organized folders on computer media seized from Oake.” He has since been released from prison.
After news of the booking spread through social media, Comedy Studio owner and host Rick Jenkins admitted that he fully understands the backlash, and takes full responsibility for what he called a lapse in judgement.
“Without thinking, I agreed to let [Oake] perform at a Thursday night open mic, and wasn’t thinking about the people that this decision would hurt,” Jenkins tells Vanyaland. “I realized the mistake I had made after the agreement, and sort of felt I had dodged a bullet when he didn’t show up for that open mic spot, but I still understand the frustration that people feel.”
Given that Jenkins is still on the search for a new home for The Comedy Studio, he hopes his oversight doesn’t negatively impact where the club ends up after the new year, or the support the club has received since its announced move.
“Many people are disappointed in me and my decision, and rightly so,” he adds. “They have every right to be mad, and they’re right to be disappointed. I am disappointed with myself, as my decision hurt people I care about. I love the comedy community, and The Comedy Studio community, more than anything, and I brought hurt to that community.”
In hopes to have that community fully understand his explanation of the situation, and to address the elephant in the room, Jenkins has offered to anyone who has questions, or would like to further discuss the situation to either call, email, or visit him at The Comedy Studio directly.