Comic's remarks on Fox TV sink planned comedy shows in Edmonton

An Edmonton comedy club has cancelled appearances by an American comic who mocked the Canadian military on the Fox Television show Red Eye due to threatening messages that made the owner concerned about the safety of the club's patrons and staff.

'Threatening' calls and emails prompt cancellation

An Edmonton comedy club has cancelled upcoming appearances by an American comic who mocked the Canadian military on the Fox Television show Red Eye.

Doug Benson was scheduled to do five shows at The Comic Strip in West Edmonton Mall next month, but owner Rick Bronson cancelled the gigs after the club received some unsettling calls and emails.

"Too many of them were too threatening in nature," Bronson said.  

"I wouldn't have taken the chance. I mean, there were people who were threatening to come and buy a beer bottle to throw at him, and you know at that point you're talking about endangering many people …

"We've had some people allude to the fact that they didn't think that once he arrived at the airport he would even make it to the club."

Bronson said he spoke to Edmonton police about the messages.

"At the end of the day, we just didn't want to jeopardize the safety and security of any of our patrons or staff."

Benson apologizes

Benson appeared on Canadian television Tuesday to apologize for his remarks on the show that aired in the early hours of March 17. Benson, speaking from Los Angeles, told CTV NewsNet he made some jokes about Canada that, especially considering the timing, were completely out of line and came from an ignorant point of view.

Benson, who said he "was absolutely misinformed," said his comments were just meant to be silly and it wasn't his intention to hurt anybody's feelings.

The discussion, which involved host Greg Gutfield, Benson and two other panelists, centred around recent comments by Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie that the military may need a year to recover after Canada's mission in Afghanistan ends in 2011.

"Meaning, the Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants," Gutfield said.

"I didn't even know that they were in the war," Benson added. "I thought that's where you go if you don't want to fight. Go chill in Canada."

Many Canadians were outraged and the federal government contacted Fox News on Monday demanding an apology. Gutfield issued a statement later that day.

"It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize," he said.

Edmonton club owner Bronson said he did not speak to Benson directly about the cancellation but said the comedian sent an email to Bronson's wife, who handles the club's bookings, about "how apologetic he was about this whole situation."

"He very much likes Canadians, our government and respects our military," Bronson said. "I know he feels pretty bad about how the situation ended up."