Sarah Silverman called out comedy club owner Al Martin on gender pay discrimination and the Broadway Comedy Club owner is not happy about it. Silverman went public about the gender pay gap in this country during a viral Levo League video on Monday as a part of their #Ask4More campaign. The 44-year-old comedian shared a story about how she herself has experienced wage inequality as a female stand-up comic. In a video posted to his Facebook account (which he shares with his wife Carolyn), Martin calls the claim that he pays women less than men “a totally unsubstantiated charge.”
Silverman tells a story in the beginning of the video about hopping around New York City doing spots with her friend Todd Barry. She recalls doing back-to-back 15-minute sets at the New York Comedy Club one Saturday night. “[Then-owner Al Martin] paid me $10…I didn’t think anything of it” she says in the video. After discovering that Barry made $60 for his set, she went back inside and demanded to know why they were paid differently. “We did the exact same time back-to-back on the same show,” she goes on. “It’s pretty shitty.”
Al Martin, who sold New York Comedy Club in 2014, says Sarah Silverman is missing some key details. He remembers the night a little differently. “The truth was that you were not booked on that show in question on that evening.” He claims that Todd Barry was a booked spot and that Sarah came with him and asked to do 10 minutes. According to his version of events, he paid Todd for his weekend set and after Silverman confronted him about not paying her, he gave her $10 for cab fare for her guest spot. Martin says at the time 15 years ago it wasn’t a “gender gap” but that it was a “talent gap.” You can watch Al Martin’s response video here.
Martin and Silverman may not agree on the events of that evening but they apparently both agree that women should be paid the same as men, a severe problem deeply rooted in this country. In 2013, full-time, year-round working women were paid 78% of what their male counterparts made. As they get older, that gap only widens. The Wreck-It Ralph star championed, “If you work a job and a man is working the same job, you should be getting paid the same.” After addressing her accusation, Martin continued, “My wife is a woman. I’d be very upset if she, as a teacher who works long hours earned less than a man in the same job.” Of his two comedy clubs in New York City, three of his five managers are women.
Since then, Sarah Silverman has gone on to comedy stardom. She had her own Comedy Central sketch show The Sarah Silverman Program and has starred in feature films like A Million Ways to Die in the West and Take This Waltz. Last year she took home an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special for her one-hour stand-up special We Are Miracles. Al Martin opened the Broadway Comedy Club and Greenwich Village Comedy Club, which are still in operation. But the two have yet to reconcile. “Ever since then she’s had a grudge,” Martin said. He believes this incident was the genesis of their strife. However, he openly invited Silverman to perform at Broadway Comedy Club, “Just so long as [she books] in advance.”
Sarah Silverman’s Levo League Video (the story runs until about the 1:10 mark):