Comedians canceled over joke about native residential schools as comedy club chain caves to activist complaints

The comedy trio known as the Danger Cats had four separate shows canceled by an international comedy club chain after a joke regarding residential schools resurfaced.

Yuk Yuk’s, an iconic international stand-up comedy chain, was set to host the group of comics for four shows at its Winnipeg, Manitoba, location at the end of February 2024.

However, comedians Brendan Blacquier, Brett Forte, and Sam Walker found themselves without a venue after the club fielded complaints from unhappy social media users.

The cancelation allegedly stemmed from a resurfaced clip posted to Facebook, in which Blacquier made a joke directed at another comedian. The joked referenced an “unmarked grave” and “a dig site at a residential school.”

The unmarked grave was in reference to the alleged discovery of the remains of native children near or underneath residential schools, which were operated by the Catholic Church in Canada. The would-be revelations of the unmarked graves have yet to result in any human remains found in either Kamloops, British Columbia, or Pine Creek, Manitoba.

The video clip in question was posted by Sherry Lynn Mckay, who has described herself as an “Indigenous content creator, stand up comedian, motivational speaker,” and “influencer,” along with being a “mom of 4” and a “tiktokker.”

Mckay gave an interview on the subject to CBC Radio’s “Up to Speed,” which is broadcast by Canada’s state-owned media.

“I first seen [sic] the video in 2022 … I was absolutely disgusted and it was actually at the beginning of my stand-up comedy career,” she told the radio host.

When asked why she thought the joke was so hurtful, Mckay said that it was because of “how easy it was for some one to say those things in a public setting and make light of a really dark situation.”

“We as indigenous people, we are still doing a lot of healing … it’s just one of those things,” she added. “It really hurt me and hurt a lot people who watched it … Indigenous people, and our allies, too.”

Comedian Forte got word of the cancelation from Yuk Yuk’s over the phone, who told him that the group’s shows were being immediately removed due to controversies surrounding the event.

Blacquier told Blaze News that he was surprised at how easily the comedy club backed down.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing for comedy if a club is going to cave to online noise; I don’t think anyone would protest a comedy a show based on a joke like this.”

In screenshots shared with Blaze News, Yuk Yuk’s Winnipeg appeared to have responded to Facebook posts and email inquiries stating that the shows had been canceled.

“Please note, effective this morning, the Danger Cats will no longer be preforming at Yuk Yuk’s Winnipeg in the Fort Garry Hotel. Sincerely, Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club Winnipeg,” the messages read.

Yuk Yuk’s Winnipeg and Yuk Yuk’s head office did not respond to request for comments. This publication will be updated with any relevant responses.

For the Danger Cats however, this was not the first time they have been canceled over allegedly offensive jokes, and they are continuing a country-wide tour.

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