Rocco, the stand-up comedian who assaulted a fellow comic at Slainte earlier this month, has responded to The Bollard’s request for comment and challenged the veracity of statements his fellow funnymen have made about him.
For example, Rocco said he did not “blindside” comic Brian Brinegar that night at Slainte, but warned him several times to stop making comments about him before the assault took place. “He saw me walk across the room [toward him],” said Rocco, who also contends he only hit Brinegar once. Asked to explain how Brinegar sustained injuries to both sides of his face from one blow, Rocco said he believes Brinegar hit a stool or a wall after receiving the blow.
Brinegar confirmed that Rocco challenged him to a fight before the assault took place, but said he was on stage at the time and not inclined to take him up on the offer. He maintains that he was struck twice during the altercation.
Rocco also challenged comic Seth Bond Perry’s account of their run-in at Slainte years before. He said he did not punch Perry in the throat, but shoved him in the face with an open hand after Perry, whom Rocco said was intoxicated and belligerent at the time, repeatedly invaded his personal space.
Perry stands by his account, but acknowledged that Rocco’s claim that he was not forced out of the club that night but, rather, remained at the bar and performed, is likely true. ‘He may have gone up afterwards,” Perry said.
Rocco said he was intoxicated the night of the assault this month and regrets the incident. “I wish it didn’t happen,” he said. He believes the charge he is facing is for simple assault, and if convicted, he said it would be his first for a violent offense. The numerous arrests for alcohol-related violations years ago were for underage drinking, and include an OUI he was later cleared of, he said.
“I’m not a bad person by any means,” said Rocco. “I regret being drunk and out in public. It definitely wouldn’t have happened if I had not been drinking…. It doesn’t excuse it, but may give a little more insight.”
[Note: Some details of an altercation between Rocco and a man he allegedly beat with a trash can after being stabbed, related to The Bollard by The Rev. Brian Giles, a fellow comic, were incorrect. Rocco said the man was known to him at the time and had been stalking and harassing a woman he knew. He was not a stranger, as our previous report implied.]
And speaking of bar fights …
The Portland City Council voted to deny Tom Manning’s liquor and entertainment license renewal requests for The Cactus Club last night. The vote was 6-2, with councilors Dan Skolnik and Nick Mavodones in the minority. Councilor Cheryl Leeman, who had supported the renewals at a meeting earlier this month, was absent, and Councilor Dory Waxman, who had also voted to grant Manning the licenses on Feb. 2, changed her position last night.
In a letter to the city, Manning’s attorney, David Turesky, indicated his client will appeal the city’s decision to state licensing authorities, and may bring the matter to court should that appeal be denied, as appears likely. The Fore Street bar would be allowed to remain open pending the outcome of the state appeal.
— Chris Busby