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Burns: “racist” comedian should not perform at county fair building

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Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns is not at all happy that comedian-musician John Valby — aka “Dr. Dirty” — will be bringing his raunchy style of humor to the city-owned Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds on Friday night.

She said she does not believe the 68-year-old comedian’s brand of racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, homophobic and what some call obscene humor should be performed in the Jefferson County Agricultural Society building at the city-owned fairgrounds.

“I don’t think it’s something that Watertown wants to be known for,” she said Wednesday, after hearing about the show earlier in the day.

Mr. Valby has been performing his raunchy songs and limericks — known as “Dirty Ditties” — for decades. He started his act after performing in front of his fraternity brothers at Middlebury College in Vermont and continues to play at college campuses across the country, according to his website. Over the years, he has recorded about 30 albums, with some of the gentler titles being “Butt Seriously Folks,” “Give Me Dirt or Give Me Death” and “The Dirt Poems.”

Ms. Burns said she had never heard of the comedian before Wednesday, so she was not aware of the content of his “racist and sexist” shows.

Local promoter AMP Entertainment arranged for Mr. Valby to perform here.

Paul A. Simmons, who co-owns AMP Entertainment with Sebby R. Abbate and Scott P. Mashaw, was surprised that Ms. Burns was so upset about the show, since Dr. Dirty performed in the fairgrounds building two years ago. He and about 600 other people attended the show that night, Mr. Simmons said, noting it was Dr. Dirty fans who suggested getting him to perform in Watertown.

“It’s a show,” he said. “It’s comedy. What is comedy to one is not to someone else. You just have to have an open mind.”

In March, some opponents unsuccessfully tried to get his show stopped at the Wilbur Theater in Boston because he uses racist names in his act, Ms. Burns said.

“I’m just shocked in this world of tolerance that this is coming here,” she said.

Ms. Burns said she is worried that people will blame the Watertown City Council for allowing the show at the city-owned fairgrounds. But she noted the agriculture building is owned by the Jefferson County Agricultural Society, so the city has no control over what happens there.

Fair Association President Robert D. Simpson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

While he knows of Mr. Valby’s work, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said, he personally does not care for the material and isn’t interested in attending the show.

“It’s not my cup of tea,” he said

The mayor, too, was surprised to hear about Mr. Valby’s gig at the ag building, since Dr. Dirty typically plays in bars and nightclubs.

Mr. Simmons said Mr. Valby, a classically trained pianist, has performed all over the country. When his house near Buffalo burned down in August, a fundraiser was held to help get the comedian back on his feet, Mr. Simmons said.

If people have a problem with the Watertown show, Mr. Simmons suggested they call him on his cellphone at 783-7302.

So far, about 250 tickets have been sold for Friday’s show, he said. The performance is set to start at 8 p.m.

In 2011, AMP found itself in a dispute with the city of Watertown after claiming the city took too long approving a concert at the fairgrounds by the hard-rock act Godsmack. With an Aug. 20 concert date approaching, AMP announced July 28 that it was changing the concert’s venue to the Can-Am Speedway in LaFargeville.

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