Crackhouse Comedy Club owners get crack at overturning gov’t ban with judicial review hearing

The owners of a comedy club in Kuala Lumpur who had their business license revoked and received a lifetime ban on applying for any new licenses after a controversial stand-up performance at their club went viral now have a chance at having the government’s order lifted after being granted a hearing for their judicial review application.

Yesterday, the High Court granted the owners of the now-shuttered Crackhouse Comedy Club, Rizal Van Geyzel and Shankar R. Santhiram, a hearing for their application, which is set for May 23.

But the hearing will only determine whether their application has sufficient merit to go to trial, making it just the first step in the process of getting their license reinstated and the ban lifted

In July, Crackhouse Comedy Club became embroiled in controversy after a video went viral showing a woman doing an open mic comedy routine at the club on June 4 in which she removed her headscarf and baju kurung while professing to be a Muslim that had memorised 15 chapters (juzuk) of the Quran.

The club then reported the woman, 26-year-old Siti Nuramira Abdullah, to the authorities at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail Police Station, claiming that she and her partner had been barred from the venue immediately after her performance.

She was subsequently charged by police with allegedly insulting Islam, along with her boyfriend, who uploaded the video. They were briefly held in custody but are currently out on bail while awaiting trial.

Siti’s actions ultimately resulted in  Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) temporarily suspending the venue’s operating licence, a decision that drew criticism from some of the biggest names in Malaysian comedy and other performance venues.

The DBKL licensing committee decided to revoke the comedy club’s license on July 30 and blacklisted the club owners from ever registering another business licence in Kuala Lumpur.

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