Comedian Mike Keegan has responded to a Facebook post by Port Jefferson's Theatre Three that had condemned him for a social media comment on climate-change child activist Greta Thunberg. Keegan's since-deleted tweet joked about Thunberg, 16, and sexual assault.
"I hold no animosity against Theatre Three and the decision that they have made," Keegan, 36, originally of East Meadow, told Newsday in a statement. "They have every right to dictate who performs on their stage, and Long Island is overflowing with talented comedians for them to choose from. I am, however, disappointed that they chose to make this public on social media. I wish they had reached out to me privately and I would have graciously supported their decision. To publicly vilify me for a comment that I made was unprofessional."
In the tweet on Tuesday, Keegan had said Thunberg was being exploited for political reasons and that Democrats were "gonna send her off to Epstein Island." The reference was to financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who owned Little St. James Island, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Epstein, who committed suicide Aug. 10 while jailed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, had been accused of bringing unescorted young girls to the island and sexually abusing them.
Keegan told Newsday the tweet was "a tongue in cheek observation" that "was in no way a personal attack towards Greta, nor was it advocating harm to her or any other person."
On Wednesday, Theatre Three wrote on Facebook that it "in no way condones the inappropriate comments made by stand-up comedian Mike Keegan about a child activist. He will never again appear on the Theatre Three stage."
It was unclear what prompted the post. Keegan has performed at Theatre Three but not recently, and artistic director Jeffrey Sanzel said on Thursday, "We have no comment on it. We stand by our post and that's all we're going to say."
"I am not sure why Theatre Three responded so boldly as I do not show anything on social media stating that I am affiliated with them," Keegan said in a follow-up email. "Each time I have performed there I have refrained from using vulgar language or discussing politics out of respect for the venue."