Steve McGrew has had enough.
The Colorado comic kept quiet after “Everybody Loves Raymond” alum Brad Garrett canceled his December appearance at the star’s Vegas club.
The reason? McGrew says it’s because he supports President Donald Trump. Garrett, like many comedians, loathes Trump.
McGrew claims that cost him the gig. And he fears he’s not alone.
This week, “America’s Got Talent” finalist Benton Blount lost his slot opening for ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. The cancellation came after he posted a pro-Trump photo on Facebook. The image also featured Blount holding food from Chick-fil-A.
The photograph didn’t show anything inappropriate by social media standards. No cursing, nudity or sexually suggestive content.
Facebook banned it for 24 hours, leading to Blount’s dismissal.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Gibbons’ tour told Ultimate Classic Rock the change “was a creative decision by management.”
It’s why McGrew is finally speaking up about his own experience with anti-Trump blacklisting.
Please Welcome Back … Steve McGrew!
McGrew says he had a long-standing gig at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at the MGM Grand around Wrangler NFR, or “Rodeo Week.”
“We’ve known each other for years and always got along,” McGrew says of Garrett. When the sitcom star opened his Las Vegas club in 2012 he invited McGrew to appear on its stage.
“You’re perfect for Rodeo Week,” McGrew recalls Garrett saying. McGrew, who calls himself a “Hellbent Southern Gent,” worked roughly two weeks a year at Garrett’s club since then, including that annual, end-of-year gig.
Their bond didn’t stop there.
“We’d go to dinner and gamble together,” he adds, describing a courteous but not deeply personal connection.
McGrew has a quote from Garrett’s club on his personal web page:
“We Love Steve McGrew at the BGCC” — Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
That was before Trump’s unexpected White House victory in 2016. Garrett’s Twitter account seethes with rage over all things Trump.
Woolsey Fire at 70,000 Acres, Trump Blames Forest Management – Variety There’s just no end to this sick asshole @realDonaldTrump completely void of any compassion or humanity. https://t.co/WDuHKR3gbt
— Brad Garrett (@RealBradGarrett) November 10, 2018
Trump to CNN reporter: What a stupid question. You ask a lot of stupid questions. https://t.co/1taFVwac5v What a jackass you are @realDonaldTrump Everyone’s onto you my orange maniac. Stop acting belligerent and surprised every time you’re overshadowed by the TRUTH #WOKE
— Brad Garrett (@RealBradGarrett) November 10, 2018
The Steve McGrew You Don’t Know
McGrew avoids politics on stage. He saves his red meat Republican musings for social media. His Larry the Liberal character incessantly mocks progressive groupthink. Facebook repeatedly suspeneds McGrew’s page for alleged violations.
Twitter recently suspended his account without reason, he says.
Did Twitter seriously suspend Liberal Larry? Steve McGrew come back!!!!!
— Michael Moates 🇺🇸 (@freedom_moates) November 12, 2018
His conservative online presence proved too much for Garrett, apparently. Earlier this year, Garrett sent McGrew a letter severing their professional ties.
“It just came out of nowhere,” McGrew says of the dismissal. “He didn’t feel comfortable with me in the green room … it was time for him to take a stand.” Garrett even referenced a Time Magazine covering featuring President Trump staring down an illegal immigrant child. McGrew notes the viral image was just more “fake news.”
The two later exchanged texts, with McGrew reminding Garrett he doesn’t even do political jokes in his stage act.
“He came back with … how Trump was reminiscent of Nazi Germany,” McGrew says of the exchange.
McGrew kept quiet about the firing at first. Garrett had a new film coming out, “Christopher Robin,” in which he provides the voice of Eeyore. McGrew says he didn’t want to hurt Garrett or the movie’s marketing campaign.
“Brad was a friend. I didn’t want to get into it,” he says, calling Garrett a “master” comedian. “I’m not trying to hurt anybody.”
When Blount got dismissed due to his political leanings McGrew decided it was time to talk.
“Everyone should speak up,” he says.
HiT contacted Garrett’s representation but was forwarded to his Vegas club. We reached out to the club’s social media page, which indicates responses are usually made within one day, but have yet to hear back. HiT tried to call MGM Grand but was steered back to Garrett’s representation. This article will be updated if Garrett or his team respond.
FAST FACT: McGrew has won three Country Music Awards for his stint as a morning radio show host in Denver.
McGrew says other right-leaning comedians fear publicly defending Trump. Some offer him support behind-the-scenes but fear outing themselves as conservative could cost them work. Some of those comedians lack a national profile, he says.
Others? Most people would recognize their names, he says.
Anecdotal evidences backs up McGrew’s claims.
Comedian Jimmy Yang told “The Adam and Drew Show” last year about a casting director who wouldn’t hire actors if they shared support for Trump on social media. Producer Ann McElhinney told the HiT ‘cast how conservatives in Hollywood are treated badly for simply preferring a smaller, leaner government.
The Hollywood Reporter recently downplayed the fear conservative talent experiences due to their political leanings. It’s not hard to read between the lines, though..
The president’s supporters in the industry fear mixing it up with their liberal colleagues, thus there are secretive efforts to drum up votes for their side, the most visible being street art….
But the lack of flash shouldn’t be confused with a dearth of passion from the Hollywood right; it’s just that partisanship has become so “toxic” — a word used over and over by conservatives in the industry who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter — that they are skittish about doing anything publicly in the Trump era when it comes to their personal politics.
Few, if any, liberal stars are “skittish” about shouting their progressive views for all to hear. Just ask Garrett … or stars like Ellen Barkin who share unhinged political rants without fear of career reprisals.
“It’s always been this way, but it’s definitely gotten worse with the Trump years,” McGrew says.