Laughter will turn to tears at Caroline’s on Broadway on January 1st when the city’s premier comedy venue for four decades closes its doors forever.
Owner Caroline Hirsch told The Post: “I haven’t renewed my lease. New Year’s Eve will be our last night.”
She said that while business has recovered strongly since the pandemic, the 10-year lease on the 750 Seventh Avenue venue was due for a rent “reset” at the end of the year, and “my landlord felt that he can get a lot more for the area.”
The tower between West 49th and 50th Streets is owned by a Kuwaiti wealth trust operating as FosterLane Management.
“New Year’s Eve will be our last night,” she said.
Hirsch delivered the final message to the stunned employees on Tuesday afternoon.
“This is heartbreaking for me,” she told the Post. “I love my employees. I love my comedians. I’m on my way to something new” — likely an extension of the Caroline’s brand, which includes the New York Comedy Festival that she hosts at many locations around the city. “I don’t see this as the end of Carolines, but as a new chapter that continues to produce world-class comedy,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch opened the original Caroline’s as a cabaret in Soho in 1981.
Jay Leno, an occasional guest performer, first put it on the national radar when he spoke about it on David Letterman’s show.
She relocated the club to the ailing South Street Seaport in 1987, where many expected a flop. But it quickly caught on with locals and tourists alike. The place was home to A&E Network’s six-year hit show, Caroline’s Comedy Hour. The current venue has been featured in many television specials on other networks.
Hirsch moved to Times Square in 1992, a landmark move when the area was still dangerous and “the most seedy place on earth,” she recalled. The ever-changing talent roster has included Richard Belzer, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Jon Stewart, Joy Behar, Jimmy Fallon, Michael Che, Robin Williams and Conan O’Brien. Larry David performed Saturday Night Live skits that never blew up.
The place had an “anything can happen” vibe that was part of its charm. “It’s the hardest place to do comedy,” Hirsch recently told Variety. “You never know who’s in the audience; you have to bring your A-game.”
Finding a new tenant for the mostly underground space with 300 seats will not be easy. Zoning rules require 750 Seventh Ave., like several other towers in the area, to use 5% of its floor area for entertainment purposes – a rule enacted in the 1980s when the city was struggling to embrace the show business nature of The Times protect square.
A new tenant would also have to contend with a menacing sidewalk and pedestrian plaza scene on the east side of the avenue, teeming with junk dealers and hustlers aggressively selling old CDs to tourists.
FosterLane representatives could not be reached.
https://nypost.com/2022/12/06/influential-nyc-comedy-club-carolines-closing-after-40-years/ The influential New York comedy club Caroline is closing after 40 years