Comedy Central’s The Daily Show came to Raleigh recently to poke fun at House Bill 2 by operating a food truck that refused to serve gay people.
The show parked a fake barbecue business called Bone Bros. Flamin’ BBQ outside Trophy Brewing on Maywood Avenue and the Ruby Deluxe bar on Salisbury Street earlier this month.
“I wanted to show North Carolinians what HB2 would look like in action, so I rented a food truck ... and set out to refuse service to people by telling them they’re gay,” Daily Show correspondent Roy Wood Jr. says at the beginning of the segment, which aired Thursday. “HB2 says I can do this Jim Crow-level (expletive), and nobody can stop me.”
For the record, HB2 doesn’t explicitly state that businesses can refuse service to LGBT people. But it did repeal local nondiscrimination ordinances that included LGBT protections and replaced them with a statewide nondiscrimination law.
That law bans “places of public accommodation” such as restaurants, stores and hotels from discriminating on the basis of “race, religion, color, national origin, or biological sex.” But it leaves two categories unprotected: Sexual orientation and gender identity.
Since HB2 passed in March, there have been no reported instances of businesses citing it to refuse service to LGBT people. At least until The Daily Show came to town.
“No gays allowed,” said the red sign posted on the show’s barbecue truck. Most of the people featured in the segment deny being gay when Wood refuses to feed them, and they’re baffled and upset by the discrimination.
Trophy owners David Lockwood and Chris Powers said The Daily Show explained the premise to them when they sought permission to film.
“They approached and let us know what they were going to be doing,” said Lockwood. “We had a conversation about how offensive we thought it might be to guests.”
The Daily Show explained the stunt to customers and bought their meals following the filming. The barbecue truck makes regular appearances at Trophy on Maywood but was specially wrapped for the filming.
“These people already have to live in North Carolina,” Wood says, explaining the giveaway. “That’s stressful enough.”
David Lockwood acknowledged the risk of taking a side but says “we feel comfortable that we’re on the right side.” He says “in the end, The Daily Show is a funny way to bring up some things politely.”
The Daily Show segment wasn’t the only national media attention for Raleigh this week: Al Roker hosted “Today” show segments Friday from the IBMA World of Bluegrass festival.
Watch the full Daily Show segment here: