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Review: “Make ‘Em Laugh: 35 Years of The Comic Strip”

PhotobucketDon’t let the names of the hilarious funnymen and women on the cover fool ya, this book is NO JOKE!

Released earlier this week from Skyhorse Publishing “MAKE ‘EM LAUGH: 35 Years of The Comic Strip, The Greatest Comedy Club of All Time!” is a must-have if you are a fan of stand up comedy, the behind the scenes lives of comedians or just the history of show business in general. A New York institution, the Comic Strip Live! was born out of the imagination of Richie Tienken, Robert Wachs and John McGowan after seeing a place for more competition in the just-about-to-burst stand up comedy scene of the mid-1970’s. The oft-fabled ‘comedy boom’ hadn’t yet happened, but there were still plenty of comedians to go around, looking for anywhere to get up on stage and with limited stage time to be had, the opening of the seven-night-a-week Comic Strip was a blessing for the burgeoning community.

“Make ‘Em Laugh,” written by Tienken and comedy writer Jeffrey Gurian tells the story of the club through both the perspectives of the club and its longtime ownership, but also the talent that has come through the doors. Many of the stories shared in these 200+ pages are hilarious, insightful tales being shared now for the very first time. Contributors to the book include Billy Crystal, Paul Reiser, Ray Romano, Lewis Black, Larry Miller, Colin Quinn (who got his start as a bartender at the club), Jerry Seinfeld (who was the long-time nightly host at the Yorkville establishment) and Chris Rock, who not only generously contributed the introduction for the book, but also is one of the most interesting stories in the history of the club, as the kid from Brooklyn who would make the trek into the city every night to work as a busboy for the club with the hopes of getting thrown up on stage late in the evening for Late Night. But as history knows, that all changed when a powerful young man named Eddie Murphy stopped by the Strip one night and Chris got his chance to shine. The rest is show biz history.

The book is a powerful, wonderful account that shows where the club came from and where it is today. Divided into sections – The Older Kids, which gets insight from the first few generations of Comic Strip acts including George Wallace, Joe Bolster, Wayne Federman and the aforementioned Quinn, Seinfeld and Reiser to The Younger Kids where we hear from some of todays biggest comedy stars including Jeffrey Ross, Judah Friedlander, Lisa Lampanelli, Jim Breuer and Jim Gaffigan, Friends of the Family where we talk to Rory Rosegarten, former owner of neighbor club Catch A Rising Star Rick Newman, and longtime landlord for the Comic Strip David Eberhart. The final chapters of the book at devoted to the future of the club, both listing off some of the more promising, exciting “Next Generation” talents that the Strip is showcasing as well and drawing attention to steps the club is taking to be stay up-to-date be the most socially and technologically relevant club of the 21st Century.

Beyond simply conducting interviews, what makes “Make ‘Em Laugh” truly shine is its openness and honesty. While most would expect any book written by those associated with a club, about their club to be self-congratulatory, Gurian and Tienken allow for the entire story to be told – even the occasionally less-than-flattering stories. No marriage is perfect and sometimes the relationship being the talent and the management can be a difficult one, but Gurian and Tienken wanted to whole story to be told, and it was. Brilliantly.

At a time when anyone can send a few emails and get a few quick pull-quotes and throw together a quick “feature” for a blog or website, it is encouraging and delightful to see the effort and lengths that have gone into forming “Make ‘Em Laugh” the book that it is. This was clearly no hastily thrown together side-project. Great hours were spent cultivating this book and all of that extra work truly pays off. And as with any book, the reader is the one who ends up benefiting the most.

A four-year-plus labor or love, “Make ‘Em Laugh” is a must-have read for every comedian and a very exciting, peek-behind-the-curtain for any comedy fan.

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TONIGHT on America’s Got Talent: Tom Cotter

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We are all very important people.

Our time is valuable to us.

We cherish and savor moments of rest and relaxation because sometimes in this world, those moments are few and far between.

Tonight, when you are done with work for the day, and you are finally¬† allowing yourself a few of those cherished moments of peace, do a favor for one of the best men in comedy and take a minute to vote for the hilarious Tom Cotter on “America’s Got Talent.”

A talent over 23 years in the making, Cotter is a true class act in this business. Show your appreciation for the years he has put into this difficult craft by giving back and calling and voting for Tom.

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Tom Cotter Kills on “America’s Got Talent!”

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Last night, long-time friend of the Comic Strip Live!, the hilarious Tom Cotter blew the panel of judges away and was rewarded with fantastically kind words, resounding audience applause and a trip to the next round on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

A 23-year veteran of the stand up world with prior credits including “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Comedy Central Presents: Tom Cotter,” CBS’s “The Late Late Show” and “Last Comic Standing,” Cotter will be the first to admit he’s not yet a household name. But after last night’s amazing display of timing, writing and persistence at his craft, eyes around the world are sure to focus on the humble jokesmith from New England.

Congratulations Tom! You’ve earned this. Best wishes moving forward to the next round in Las Vegas (a place where Tom once WON the prestigious Las Vegas Comedy Festival!)

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Doing It The Right Way: Joe Machi

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Set your DVR’s!

One of the brightest new talents to come out of the Comic Strip lobby in years, Joe Machi will be making his network television debut on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” tonight!

Joe Machi is a true workhouse. Machi’s New York comedy origins actually began as a student in D.F. Sweedler’s Comedy Writing Workshop where he studied under Sweedler for 8 weeks. Each week, he would write his jokes, come to class, read them aloud to the room and work to help himself and others get better at following their dream. Sweedler still teaches this class (which has produced talents such as Rob Riggle, Sam Morril, David Baker and more!). Keep your eye on this blog for upcoming class registration info!

Following the class, Machi worked hard, grinding it out and hard and seemingly hopeless open mics around the northeast for years, finally getting to the point where the bookers at the Comic Strip felt like he has earned his place and passed him to perform as a member of the “Late Night” roster.¬† Late Night is an after-show where he and other younger acts would hang out all night in the lobby and after all of the scheduled performers were done, he would get a chance to entertain whatever audience was left. Going up on stage for 5 minutes in front of depleted crowds who had just watched over 3 hours of the best stand up in New York City is a tough task for anyone. But Machi persisted, coming in four times a week for almost four years, perfecting his craft to this point he was undeniable.

He won the New York Underground Comedy Festival’s “Emerging Comedian” award, began receiving spots at many of the major clubs in town and on December 16th, 2009, Machi realized one of the biggest dreams he had when he moved to New York City: he auditioned and “passed” for regular paid spots at The Comic Strip.

Since then Machi has been a regular on the Strip’s stage, delighting our capacity crowds nightly. Tonight’s appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” is a testament to what being a good, hard-working person can bring.¬† Joe Machi is a guy who has never taken short-cuts, gotten worn down by industry slights or become victimized by being unfairly passed-over. He is a consummate professional who has put in the time and is deserving of the accolades that he is receiving.

Congratulations Joe. We are all incredibly proud of you.

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Filed under Elsewhere in the City, TV apperances

Paul Reiser Returns to the Comic Strip!

A glorious homecoming took place on Friday night when long-time friend of the club Paul Reiser made his triumphant return to the Comic Strip Live!

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The star of such projects such as the movie “Aliens” and “Diner” as well as the incredibly popular sitcoms “Mad About You” and “My Two Dads,” the now Los Angeles resident was in town promoting the release of his new project “The Paul Reiser Show” debuting this Thursday on NBC!

Paul will be quick to say that he started his comedy career at the legendary Comic Strip and as legend dictates, Paul got his first (surprise) acting break by happenstance when he accompanied a comedian friend from the Strip to an audition, spontaneously auditioned and then was cast into history with his starring role in “Diner.”

Paul performed on both the 8:30 and 10:30 shows and was warmly received by the crowds. Still as hilarious and relevant as always, Reiser was kind to everyone who approached him and seemed to have a great time connecting with other comics in the lobby and especially longtime friend, club owner Richie Tienken.

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Thanks for coming by Paul! We’re looking forward to checking out “The Paul Reiser Show” this Thursday on NBC!

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Filed under Alumni News, Live at the Strip, Lobby Life

Elayne Boosler to Headline Diabetes Benefit!

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Comedy legend Elayne Boosler to headline star-studded benefit show at the Comic Strip on April 14th.

Laugh at Diabetes

Headline Comics Whose Lives Have Been Touched by Diabetes

AN AMAZING SHOW AT THE LEGENDARY COMEDY CLUB “THE COMIC STRIP”

All proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the American Diabetes Association

The World Famous & Legendary Comic Strip Live has teamed up with the American Diabetes Association to bring you an exclusive fundraiser, “Laugh at Diabetes” starring comics appearing on Jay Leno, Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson, plus some surprise guests.

Thursday, April 14th at 8pm

The cost per ticket is $50 plus a two drink minimum per person.

Featuring:

Comedy Legend Elayne Boosler
SEVEN one-hour cable specials, Showtime, Comedy Central, The Tonight Show

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Goumba Johnny

The afternoon host from WKTU

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Cipha Sounds

The morning host from New York’s Hot 97

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Eddie Brill

From the David Letterman Show

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Chuck Nice

From VH1’s Best Week Ever & Comedy Central

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Sherrod Small

From VH1’s Best Week Ever, Chris Rock Show, Red Eye

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Harrison Greenbaum

One of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch” and winner of the Andy Kaufman Award

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Plus comics from The Friars Club, and other surprise guests!

Call (212) 861-9386 and make reservations over the phone with a credit card.

TICKETS ARE LIMITED SO PLEASE ORDER RIGHT AWAY!
For further information call Allen Stone (from American Diabetes Assoc.) at 914-253-4909

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Marina Franklin on John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show tonight!

A long time favorite at the Comic Strip Live! the talented Marina Franklin will be performing tonight on the 2nd episode of this season’s “John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show.”

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Marina Franklin performing as one of the stars of Comedy Central’s “The Awkward Kings of Comedy”

Premiering tonight at 12am on Comedy Central, the long-time Daily Show with Jon Stewart corespondent and comedian John Oliver (who has been known to occasionally hang out in the lobby at the Comic Strip) hand-selected his favorite stand-up talents to be featured on this high-profile weekly showcase. Reminiscent of the Rodney Dangerfield/HBO Young Comedian Specials of old, these shows are one of the few current opportunities for a rising comedic talent to get national (and worldwide) exposure. To make the shows roster is a highly coveted achievement. Congratulations Marina!

Marina will be leaving next week to headline the Melbourne Comedy Festival. She has previously performed on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, The Awkward Kings of Comedy, NBC’s Last Comic Standing and was a coorespondant on The Jay Leno Show.

To find out when you can see Marina live, keep an eye on our schedule!

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Filed under Live at the Strip, TV apperances