A comedy night fundraiser that was scheduled to feature Carlos Mencia, Gabriel Iglesias and Greg Fitzsimmons to benefit Santa Monica’s Edison Language Academy was canceled by interim superintendent Tim Cuneo the afternoon of Sunday, January 11th.
The event was scheduled for 7 p.m. that evening at Barnum Hall, on the Santa Monica High School campus.
Proceeds from the event were to go to the Edison Parent Teachers Association (PTA) to support instructional aides, art and music programs, field trips and assemblies.
The event was canceled because the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District had received several complaints from community members who felt that the material to be presented in the comedy night fundraiser at Barnum Hall wasn’t consistent with district standards, Cuneo said.
“There were concerns that [the material] really kind of divided the community,” Cuneo said. “What we want to do is unite our school community, not divide it.”
He continued, “Every performer has a reputation, and [Mencia] has a certain genre that he uses, so knowing what his genre is, some people really objected to it.”
Mencia’s style of comedy is political and typically involves issues of social class, race and culture.
Cuneo said the district does not support “material that demeans or exploits women or any other racial or minority groups.”
Added school board president Ralph Mechur, “What’s the message we’re sending if we’re inviting adults to use our properties and use all the terminology that we’re trying to have the children not use, and have adults laughing about it?”
Cuneo discussed potentially canceling the comedy fundraiser with several school board members before making a final decision to cancel the event.
He said that he and the district are very appreciative of the PTA, volunteers and the comedians who were willing to give of their time to support Edison Language Academy, but “maybe [the performance] just didn’t match our community.”
Mechur said, “I’m apologetic for canceling an event at such a late time.”
Cuneo noted that the decision was a difficult one to make.
“It’s not an easy issue to grapple with,” he said.
Anyone who purchased tickets to the event will receive a full refund through www.brownpaper tickets.com/.
Now, the district plans to host discussions with the community regarding concerns that have been raised.
“What came out of this is, I think we need to have a really good discussion about what’s appropriate for fundraising in the district’s facilities,” Cuneo said.
About canceling the event, Mechur said, “We felt it would be better for the community to have a conversation about the content of the events that the district is sponsoring and cosponsoring on its property.
“We certainly respect the artists.
“We’re totally supportive of Edison Language Academy. We just want to have a community discussion.”