Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt announced on Instagram last week that he is canceling shows in Florida and Salt Lake City because venues won’t comply with his request that attendees show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
That includes a stop in the Tampa Bay area.
Oswalt was scheduled to bring his Who’s Ready to Laugh tour to the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Dec. 30. Ruth Eckerd Hall, which manages and operates the Capitol Theatre, announced the cancellation on Thursday, saying that ticketholders will be contacted about refunds.
In an Instagram video, Oswalt announced that he’s requiring his audiences to be vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test for the tour.
“The good news is we’re keeping everyone who comes to these shows safe and healthy because the numbers are going up,” he said in the video. “Now the bad news, of course, is there are five venues on the tour that are not complying with this ... I’ll give you one guess which as to which state it was. That’s right, my four December dates in Florida are going to be canceled.”
“This difficult decision was made due to the rising number of COVID cases,” he said in the video. “Also because I have an ego, but my ego is not big enough to think that people should die to hear my stupid comedy.”
He captioned the video with a statement in which he wrote: “And Florida — well, I love Florida. We’ve been the best of frenemies since the mid-90s. We were probably gonna add shows in Orlando and Clearwater. Oh well.”
“Hopefully we get to rebook those,” he said in the video. “Please stay safe.”
Florida law says businesses can’t require customers to show proof of vaccination. But adding an option for a negative test is different, and the governor’s office has acknowledged that the combination makes this rule lawful. The loophole allows event organizers to deny entry due to the lack of a negative test, not vaccination status.