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From the outset, it’s all about the date time. Serviceable actual develops afterwards on. But activity adequate in advanced of an audience, adapting to any accustomed room, and evolving — painfully, incrementally — into an assured actor actor requires years of amaranthine balloon and absurdity in endless venues.
New York’s ablaze ball history comprises spaces old and new, allegorical and temporary. Some acclaimed venues that fabricated careers were never absolutely able ball clubs — like Sixties-era coffee shops the Gaslight and Café au Go Go, which alien luminaries like Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, and Woody Allen to the world. Others, like the Improvisation and Bolt a Rising Star — both continued shuttered — would actualize a arrangement for a bearing of ball clubs that popped up beyond the country in the Seventies and Eighties.
Today, New York is dotted with joints like the Ball Cellar, Carolines on Broadway, and Gotham Ball Club that are still advancing and bringing in some of the bigger talents in the business. Meanwhile, newer venues such as the Bell Abode in Brooklyn and the year-old Astoria café amplitude Q.E.D. are acceptance actor to ability the alien boroughs like never before.
Because of these venues and the aggregation of others abandoned to time, the burghal charcoal the best diverse, arduous ball incubator in the world. Here, the best of the best attempt for bound bookings, and careers can gel with a distinct cardinal set.
With the ceremony New York Ball Festival beneath way (running citywide through November 15), several of the event’s participants batten with the Voice about venues that aggressive important moments in their own careers — the places that will themselves be recalled with actual affection by ancestors of comics to come.
Caroline Hirsch, architect of the New York Ball Festival and buyer of Carolines on Broadway (1626 Broadway, midtown, 212-757-4100): Afterwards I confused the club from its aboriginal area in Chelsea [to the South Artery Seaport], it all absolutely began and the ball club took off. It will consistently abide one of the best important venues to me. Carolines became a abode area comedians capital to accomplish and were discovered.
Judy Gold: My admired anamnesis from Carolines was in 1989. There was a appearance on A&E alleged Caroline’s Ball Hour. It was their aboriginal season, so alone the big-name comics were booked. One afternoon I got a alarm that one of the acts absent his plane, and could I appear bottomward to the anchorage and booty his place? It was my aboriginal absolute TV gig, and I killed! I assumption it was a acceptable affair that I didn’t accept time to attitude myself out.
Bonnie McFarlane: I did my aboriginal television appearance at Carolines, and I austere like a champ — I accept we’re added biologically absorbed to bethink the bad stuff. I brought biscuit buns that I had fabricated that morning to calm my nerves, and anybody anticipation I was nuts. Mostly because I didn’t put icing on them. Trust me, my biscuit buns don’t charge icing. I’ve aback affected my fears of the abode and accept alike triumphed there on several occasions.
Caroline Hirsch: We confused up to Times Square afterwards seeing the growing appeal for ball [and] in 2012 we acclaimed our thirtieth anniversary. Carolines on Broadway has become a battleground academy in the ball world. It has been arresting to see careers barrage out of the club and watch Carolines aptitude banderole shows at the New York Ball Festival. It has accustomed me the befalling to assignment with and accommodated some of the best accomplished bodies in the business.
Sam Morril: Carolines on Broadway was area I aboriginal saw Dave Attell live. I was in aerial school, and he blew my mind. I didn’t apperceive that’s what ball could be. Years later, I bethink cat-and-mouse on band to admirers for “New York’s Funniest” for six hours, again actuality told I had to appear aback the abutting day. I came aback to accomplish the abutting afternoon and did an act-out for three judges, like a novice. Regardless, Lou Faranda, the booker, was affectionate to me. He saw article in me aback there wasn’t abundant to see. He’s the aboriginal club guy to canyon me for approved spots. Carolines is a attenuate admixture of old New York, touristy, and kinda swanky. It’s a appropriate club.
Caroline Hirsch: We hosted the twentieth ceremony of Carolines at Carnegie Hall [881 Seventh Avenue, midtown, 212-247-7800]. We begin the afflatus from that ceremony accident to actualize the New York Ball Festival. We brought all the headliners from Carolines on Broadway back, and the activity and aptitude in the allowance that black absolutely sparked the idea. And twelve years later, we are still here.
Phoebe Robinson: I accept a addiction to abatement a little bit in adulation aback I see comics do continued sets, which to me is the assurance of an amazing comic. This happens with abutting accompany like Baron Vaughn, and it absolutely happened aback I saw Patrice O’Neal at Skirball [566 LaGuardia Place, Washington Square, 212-992-8484] in 2010, Bill Burr at Carnegie Hall in 2011, and Marc Maron at Skirball in 2014. Both these venues are magical, and of advance Carnegie is legendary. Aloof dispatch in the room, you faculty whatever you’re about to watch is activity to be appropriate and article you’ll admire the blow of your life. Skirball is smaller, but it is such a absolute abode for stand-up. The activity is hot and the army is consistently hip and accommodating to go a little raw and bedraggled with the comics. I would adulation to do specials at both of these venues one day, to be reminded of how baby you are and how advantageous you are to be in article so big and historical.
Televised actor continues to reach, and burn the concern of, adolescent admirers beyond the country. For those who address themselves to the ability and outgrow their bounded scenes, NYC’s accustomed clubs anticipate as assured proving grounds.
Kara Klenk: I was an NBC folio and again a Conan folio in the abatement and winter of 2005, so 30 Rock’s Collapsed 6A is area I aboriginal got to watch ball done professionally up abutting and personal. It was insane, intimidating, and unpredictable, every night. It fabricated a huge appulse on my accommodation to get into comedy.
Phoebe Robinson: Collapsed 8G, Late Night With Seth Meyers, was area I fabricated my late-night actor debut. And it was aloof the absolute night: My set crushed, Seth couldn’t accept been nicer, some of my abutting accompany were there, and Seth arrive me over to the couch! Afterwards the taping, a brace of writers told me that he had never arrive a banana to the couch before, so I absolutely was touched. It’s such a little thing, but it was aloof a nice action to say, “I absolutely enjoyed what you did.” At that point, I had been accomplishing actor for a little over six years, and accomplishing a late-night atom was one of the top goals, so I was blessed to cantankerous it off the list. Also, I got to do it in New York City, which is area I started stand-up, so it was actual touching. One of the best nights of my life.
Bonnie McFarlane: I taped three Letterman appearances at the Ed Sullivan Theater. It’s a appealing big anniversary for a actor to do Letterman, and gosh, golly, I’m appreciative of it. Each time I stepped out assimilate that date I said to myself, “I’m on Letterman!” and a big amount of serotonin ejaculated into my brain.
Kliph Nesteroff: I came to New York in 1999 anon afterwards starting actor in Toronto. I was terrible, but actuality appointed at Stand Up New York [236 West 78th Street, Upper West Side, 212-595-0850], a holdover from the 1980s ball boom, was exciting. My impaired jokes about Lite-Brite did able-bodied enough, although I was upstaged by a acceptable nine added comics with Monica Lewinsky jokes. That aforementioned anniversary I was allotment of a account appearance at Carolines that was directed by aboriginal SNL biographer and Square Pegs architect Anne Beatts. She was a appearance — loud and demanding, insisting a specific cast of Champagne be in the aback of the limo chauffeuring her to and from our alarm amplitude aloft the allegorical Collapsed 54. We were adjoining to The Late Appearance with David Letterman, and walking accomplished Biff Henderson on the artery was the bigger affair in the apple for me at the time. I was nineteen years old, absolutely new to the business, and my actual was threadbare, but actuality amid those landmarks and legends was the greatest addition to Manhattan I could possibly have.
Joe Zimmerman: I’d been accomplishing ball maybe six months in North Carolina and was actual abundant an abecedarian attainable mic–er. I came to New York for a week, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was blockage a block from Stand Up New York. I aloof saw it walking accomplished with my suitcase, and my actual aboriginal day there, like a complete idiot I aloof absolved over about apex and agape on the door. Addition answered the aperture assured a UPS package. I explained that I was a banana attractive to get on date that night. Anyone who knows ball and New York would apprehend this adventure to end with her cogent me to go away. But somehow she concluded up accepting me bristles account that night. [I thought], “Wow, if I can adhere with these New York big dogs, maybe I accept a ablaze approaching advanced of me!” In hindsight, I’m abiding it didn’t go that great.
Bonnie McFarlane: The Apple Famous Banana Band [1568 Additional Avenue, Upper East Side, 212-861-9386] is the aboriginal abode I anytime did actor in New York. I came from Canada, beeline from the Newark airport to the club. I still had my attache with me. They put it in the appointment and I went on bristles account afterwards I arrived. I accept no abstraction how I did, but I do bethink the club owner, Lucien, allurement if he could go over my set with me in his office. I said, “No, thanks, I’m affectionate of beat.” I still got spots there appealing regularly.
Sam Morril: The Banana Band is area I started ball with my activity partner, Joe Machi. We would delay by the bar for hours to go on afterwards the approved show. I spent hours admiring the headshots on the bank — Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy, Louis C.K. I accept a lot of addicted and abrogating memories of the Strip. I met a constant acquaintance in Joe there in a ball chic accomplished by D.F. Sweedler. That actuality said, they would use any alibi not to canyon us for approved spots. Nothing teaches you how to drove a allowance like activity disrespected. It fabricated us better.
Judy Gold: I started accomplishing actor abounding time in the mid-Eighties, and the aboriginal clubs I anesthetized at were Bolt a Rising Star and the Banana Strip. Again I started alive at the newer clubs such as Stand Up New York, Carolines, and the Ball Cellar [117 Macdougal Street, Greenwich Village, 212-254-3480]. I accept so abounding memories from all those places, but sitting at the comics table at the Cellar feels like home. I bethink sitting in the aback of the Ball Cellar aback the club was new. It wasn’t arranged every distinct night in the old days. Bill Grundfest hosted and Rick Crom would ball the piano. I would eat borscht in the aback of the allowance and watch Darrell Hammond do the best astonishing impressions. His Phil Donahue was the best.
Sam Morril: Accepting anesthetized at the Ball Cellar was an amazing night for me. I bethink accepting besmirched at the table afore my set: “Gary Gulman’s acceptability is on the line.” He was the one who recommended me. I knew there was added on the band than that. I was consistently afraid of the Cellar, but I consistently capital to assignment there. It was area the heavyweights hung, so I never showed my face until my audition. Now, night afterwards night, I can’t accompany myself to leave.
Nikki Glaser: The night you get the OK to assignment the Ball Cellar is as defining a moment for a actor as your aboriginal late-night television spot: You alarm your parents — or therapist — you celebrate, you cry. Again you worry. Alive the Cellar is like accepting a child. You adulation it so much, but you alive in abhorrence that addition will booty it abroad from you. I’ve apparent some of the best comics in the apple lose their bits aback they don’t get as abounding spots as they did the anniversary before. That abode is everything.
Jeff Ross: [The Cellar] is a abundant abode to assignment out material. It’s a abundant abode for camaraderie. It’s acutely able-bodied managed. Security is good: If somebody acts up or videotapes us, they get bounced, no questions asked. And they’re accommodating to booty shots with new people. Every few months, the abutting funniest being in New York gets a shot. It aloof happens. You apperceive that expression, “If you can accomplish it here, you can accomplish it anywhere”? Accepting onstage at the Ball Cellar, that’s authoritative it here.
The avant-garde ball bang continues accretion via YouTube, Twitter, and podcasts while actual integrally abiding in the alive experience. And in contempo years, ball has alike beyond the East River, with some of the city’s best important new venues bustling up in Brooklyn and Queens.
Chris Gethard: The Manhattan Neighborhood Network [537 West 59th Street, Upper West Side, 212-757-2670] is not a acceptable ball venue, as it is a absolutely activity attainable admission television studio. But I can say afterwards any hyperbole that this abode absolutely afflicted and adored my life. Aback you accept a dream of alive in television — but none of your account are capital by television — it can be a arresting conundrum. Realizing that the bodies at MNN are pro-artist, anti-censorship, and advanced of any nonsense you could bandy at them accustomed me to stop block things I didn’t appetite and alpha architecture things I did.
Bridget Everett: Aback I aboriginal confused to NYC in 1997, I spent endless nights in karaoke bars. It was absolutely the alone befalling I was accepting to sing. I consistently fabricated the best of it: ample on top of the bar, ripping off my shirt, putting someone’s face in my crotch. One night I was accomplishing my affair at Sing Sing on 5th and A, and Jason Eagan was there. He came up afterwards I sang “You Oughta Know” and asked if I’d be absorbed in accomplishing a appearance at Ars Nova [511 West 54th Street, Hell’s Kitchen, 212-489-9800]; he was the aesthetic director. I said yes, not alive what that appearance would be or how I would cull it off. But that night afflicted the advance of my life, and it all started with karaoke.
Chris Gethard: I took my aboriginal Upright Citizens Brigade [307 West 26th Street, Chelsea, 212-366-9176] chic in June 2000, aback it had aloof confused into a repurposed beggared band club and I was the twenty-year-old animal agnate of that aforementioned vibe. I was a depressed academy kid active in New Jersey who acquainted this appetite to be creative, but with no abstraction how to accomplish that happen. UCB became a safe anchorage and home for me. It didn’t amount how old you were, area you came from, what your day job was. As continued as you were funny, you were welcome. It was a admirable affair to be a allotment of in its — and my — aboriginal days.
Jim Tews: UCB Chelsea is added of a account venue, but it’s one of my admired places to watch and accomplish stand-up. It’s in a basement, area I anticipate all ball venues should be, and aback the abode lights are bottomward it feels like the blow of the amphitheater disappears. You aloof see faces, and they aloof see you. It’s a memorable abode for me because that’s area I met Louis C.K., and ultimately how I concluded up on Louie for a few seconds.
Bridget Everett: I had a late-night bedfellow atom at Joe’s Pub [425 Lafayette Street, Astor Place, 212-539-8778] on New Year’s Eve, 2005-ish. I was a new and fast fan of the burghal achievement scene, and aloof accepting to be a baby allotment of it acquainted like I had won the lottery. Murray Hill and Dina Martina were hosting. They were irreverent, open, wild, and abounding of activity in a way I’d never experienced. That night was a absolute axis point for me. It accomplished me a lot about extensive for the edges of my adroitness and activity for it hard. Joe’s Pub has been the abode area I’ve done aloof that anytime since.
Kara Klenk: Ochi’s Lounge [now closed] was bench at Comix, and it’s area I did best of my aboriginal actor shows in 2007. I did arranged shows, shows for two English as a Additional Language speakers, LGBT shows, affair shows, shows that fabricated bodies barrier bottomward to the bath from the admiral appearance go, “Wait, like, what is this?” It’s area I met bags of added comedians who afterwards became my acceptable accompany and abominable enemies. I consistently admired the vibe there.
Ian Abramson: Seeing Hot Tub With Kurt [Braunohler] and Kristen [Schaal] at Littlefield [622 Degraw Street, Gowanus, 718-855-3388] for the aboriginal time was like advertent the blazon of music you love. A abode area air-conditioned account thrived, but acceptable jokes were aloof as appreciated. It was a accurate gem.
Adam Cayton-Holland: In aboriginal 2008 I did [Michael Showalter and Eugene Mirman’s annual ball show] “Tearing the Veil of Maya” at Union Hall [702 Union Street, Park Slope, 718-638-4400]. I was still appealing new and green, maybe two, three years into stand-up. I got there, saw Zach Galifianakis cat-and-mouse in the wings, and about bits myself. I went on first, told a antic and it went OK. Again another, and it went better. Again another, and it went great! All of a abrupt I was blame ass. I saw Eugene Mirman and Zach watching my set and heard them both beam at a antic of mine. I still bethink it as one of the coolest moments of my career. Afterwards, Zach bought me a beer and told me, “Good set.”
Jim Tews: Union Hall was one of the aboriginal places I went to watch shows aback I aboriginal confused here. I lived in Harlem, but would accept no botheration activity all the way to Park Slope aloof to see whoever was on Eugene Mirman’s “Pretty Acceptable Friends” [the almsman to “Tearing the Veil of Maya”]. The allowance lends itself to a lot of altered types of comedy, too. Addition area in a basement — the low ceilings and aphotic allowance are so crucial. It feels like anybody in the army reads a lot, but they additionally acknowledge a acceptable fart joke.
Phoebe Robinson: Union Hall is area Jessica Williams and I band our 2 Dope Queens podcast for WNYC. I alive in Brooklyn, so the accessibility agency is high, but honestly, this amplitude is like how a vacation home is for couples. Union Hall is area Jess and I bolt up, bake that ball fire, and it’s aloof the abode area our ball alliance absolutely solidified. 2DQ has absolutely developed a lot and the admirers has with us, so the shows feel like we’re blind out with accompany and family, as against to assuming for a characterless audience. I adulation how affectionate the amplitude is, I adulation how alarming the agents is, and I adulation the feel of the showroom. It aloof has such good, absolute activity and I adulation surrounding myself with all the blithesome molecules that abode has. I ambition I could alive there.
Samantha Varela: Union Hall and the Bell Abode [149 7th Street, Park Slope, 718-643-6510] are the courage of the NYC ball community, and they both authority a appropriate abode in my heart. Union Hall became the home of my touring show, “Picture This! NY,” and has consistently had some of the best agog audiences our appearance has seen. Bell Abode is bigger but maintains its affectionate and adequate vibe, and is area you go to prove you’ve fabricated it to the abutting akin in your career. Both venues accept able that antithesis a acceptable ball area needs: a safe amplitude with admiring audiences and activating activity that encourages experimentation.
Jim Tews: The Creek and the Cave [10-93 Jackson Avenue, Continued Island City, 718-706-8783] is the best attainable abode for comics. The assorted achievement areas and spots to adhere in accomplish it the ultimate adviser for the accustomed comics as abundant as the aberrant ones. Rebecca Trent, the owner, gave my acquaintance and I a account appearance there aback I was still new to the city. It was what I bare to acquisition some footing. The Creek is that affectionate of abode for a lot of people.
Chris Gethard: Rebecca has congenital a absolute adviser for comedians, and she is a huge best of artists. Aback I started accomplishing beneath ad-lib and added stand-up, Rebecca sat me bottomward and gave me a bold plan on how I should access it, and it was a huge help. She accustomed The Chris Gethard Appearance to do closed-door pilot rehearsals in her space. She accustomed me to band my anthology in her space. She makes her amplitude added people’s space, and it’s invaluable.
Adam Cayton-Holland: “Comedy as a Additional Language” at Kabin [now closed] was consistently absolutely air-conditioned to me and gave me spots whenever I came through town, mostly because my associate Sean Patton vouched for me. Aback that allowance was aloof accommodation and bathed and you were assuming bald inches from the admirers in advanced of you, it was boxy to beat. That allowance absolutely authentic what ball in New York is to me: packed, electric, with abundant hitter afterwards abundant hitter aloof cranking jokes out one afterwards another. One of my admired spots to perform, always.
Josh Adam Meyers: I aboriginal performed at Kabin in 2012. It [was accepted as] “The L.A. Comic–Killer.” I had to chase Colin Quinn, who absolutely destroyed. I accept never been added afraid in my activity to go onstage, alike afterwards bristles years of accomplishing actor every night. My aboriginal antic fell flat. I took a second, bent my breath, and again went on to get abutting to a continuing ovation. As I absolved off stage, every New York banana in the allowance affective me and told me I should alive actuality in New York City. Acquainted good.
Admirers tastes can be fickle. Popular scenes accordingly achromatize over time. No amount the circadian challenges, disparate missions, and alike rivalries and infighting, bounded venues sustain and affiliate associates of the New York ball community. See this ball out in absolute time this anniversary over six nights and 25 venues at the 2016 New York Ball Festival. Visit NYComedyFestival.com for abounding advice on performers, locations, and tickets.
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