Rick Altergott
Thank god we still have two daily newspapers in this town.

In Monday's Seattle Times, Jim Brunner and Bob Young reported that Bob Davis, owner of the Urban Comedy Cafe, is threatening to sue the city. The comedy business is slow, Davis says, and he would rather be running a recession-proof strip club. But he can't open a strip club--thanks to the city council's "temporary" 15-year-old moratorium on opening new strip clubs in Seattle, Davis can only feature "nearly nude female dancers" at the Urban Comedy Cafe. While he can serve booze, "the women have to remain onstage at least six feet from customers."

Davis would rather be running a real strip club, complete with lucrative lap dances performed by completely nude women, but the city's "temporary" moratorium gives the owners of Seattle's four active pre-moratorium clubs a de facto monopoly on lap dances. If Davis wins a lawsuit against the city, however, it could suddenly be legal to open a strip club anywhere in Seattle. Which is why Seattle City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck called on his colleagues to put an end to the ridiculous "temporary" strip-club moratorium and craft some regulations that would allow for new strip clubs in certain parts of town.

"Why wait for a lawsuit that exposes the city to financial damages and permits [strip clubs] anywhere in the city?" Steinbrueck told the Seattle Times. Because he's 1. a politician in Seattle and, therefore, 2. a complete pussy, Steinbrueck added that he was not personally in favor of more strip clubs. He just doesn't want to see any strip clubs opening across the street from, say, a church or in a residential area. Not so fast, responded City Council President Jan Drago. The council is too busy to consider repealing the moratorium. "This council has so many big issues before us: monorail, Magnuson Park, Northgate, South Lake Union, the Families and Education Levy, and a two-year budget," Drago told the Seattle Times.

On the same day in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, our other daily paper, reporter Claudia Rowe busted Jan Drago. In a piece about some squish-brained, loony-left horseshit called "World Laughter Day," Rowe reported that Peter Steinbrueck and "about 50 other self-respecting adults [came together] at the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center." They gathered together to laugh like morons. "You don't need jokes," Steinbrueck told the P-I. "If one person starts laughing, other people do too. You see a person's humanity, and there's a certain absurdity to it all. Now if we could just get world leaders to do that." (If only George W. Bush, Kim Jung Il, and Osama bin Laden would spend a day, as Steinbrueck did, with a CLL [certified laughter leader], being guided through group exercises "in which they resembled penguins trying to dance," we could enjoy peace in our time!)

But the dopes gathered together at the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center weren't there just to celebrate World Laughter Day. They also wanted "to applaud [Steinbreuck's] success in getting his eight council colleagues to sign a proclamation declaring Sunday, May 3, World Laughter Day in Seattle... formally recognizing peals of laughter as tools for personal health and world peace."

Well, well, well.

The same city council that's just too busy to take on our legally problematic "temporary" strip-club moratorium--a moratorium that puts every neighborhood in the city at risk of one day hosting a strip club!--has time to declare World Laughter Day? City Council President Jan Drago can make time to appease a bunch of yogurt-swilling Phinney Ridge squish-brains but time is scarce when it comes to protecting the city from lawsuits and the threat of strip clubs opening in every corner of town?

Along with the rest of the world, the Seattle Times completely ignored World Laughter Day, so thank God we have two daily newspapers in this town. If it wasn't for the P-I, Jan Drago's appalling hypocrisy would not have been exposed. But there are issues at play here that transcend the efforts of the Seattle Times owners to shut down the P-I:

1. Seattle's comedy clubs are clearly suffering.

2. Seattle's strip-club moratorium is a legal and social train wreck waiting to happen.

3. Seattle's city council believes the world needs more laughter. Our city council places such a high value on laughter that its members make time to sign resolutions encouraging laughter, dance like penguins in public, and call on world leaders to do the same. Peals of laughter, after all, bring about "personal health and world peace."

Now if any of the people presently sitting on the city council could actually deliver the kind of "innovative policy solutions" they routinely promise during election season, they would be able to come up with a policy proposal that would address all three of these issues. If all nine members of the city council weren't wasting all their time on no-brainers like the monorail (build it!), Magnuson Park (build the playfields!), Northgate (tear it all down and start over!), South Lake Union (Commons 3!), the Families and Education Levy (vote no!), and a two-year budget (let's have one!), someone at city hall might come up with a groundbreaking proposal like, say...


That's right. Comedy strip clubs. Naked ladies. Telling jokes. In the nude. Naked. At a blow, the Seattle City Council would bring new patrons to ailing comedy clubs, put the moratorium issue to rest, and increase the amount of laughter in the world. (And naked ladies.) Once it solved all those problems, perhaps our new, more responsible, more mature, and more adult Seattle City Council could find the time to pass a nonbinding resolution praising the "personal health" benefits of having a joy-filled naked woman dance like a penguin in your lap as you laugh hysterically (thus striking yet another blow for world peace). Then perhaps they can tackle the circus animal issue again. Circus animals don't have much cause to laugh, and I think until elephants dance joyfully like penguins in public, we will never free ourselves from the horrors of war.