7 of New York City’s First Comedy Clubs

Comedy clubs have been in New York long before the 1970s. Here are some of the clubs from New York’s comedy past.

Fulton Street Dock Comedy Club, Fulton Street Docks

Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons
Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons

Located inside the galley of a schooner docked at Fulton Street Docks, this club started in 1910. Legions of big names have come up through the ranks of this legendary show business hot spot.

 

 

Atlantic-Pacific Tea and Laughs, Third Avenue

Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons
Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons

Situated in a back room of the Atlantic-Pacific Tea Room, this iconic club was the start for Woody Allen and Sid Ceasar.

 

Automat Comedy Club, Eight Avenue

Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons
Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons

With the marketing slogan, “We Serve Up Laughs,” the comedy club in the Automat on Eighth Avenue was the starting ground for comedians like Phyllis Diller. “We’d work on our stuff and get a sandwich,” Ms. Diller said.

 

 

Below Blossom Comedy Club, The Bowery

Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons
Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons

Below Blossom was a favorite work-out room for the Marx Brothers and Mel Blanc. “There was a barber across the hall. Sometimes the barber would heckle us while working,” Blanc said.

 

Civic Rep Theater and Comedy Basement, 14th St. West of 6th Ave.

Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons
Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons

Best known as one of the first comedy clubs with an improv troupe, the Comedy Basement at Civic Rep was a launching pad for Second City (then called First City) and Upright Citizens Brigade.

 

Tredwell House Residence and Comedy Living Room, E. 4th St.

Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons
Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons

Located in Ms. James Tredwell’s living room, it catered to the moneyed elite who would secretly slum at this after-hours social and comedy club.

 

Clickety Clack Comedy Club, El Station – Ninth Ave Line – Christopher and Greenwich

Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons
Courtesy The New York Public Library via Flickr Commons

The Clickey Clack club was one of the first comedy clubs in a mass-transit train station. Later clubs would appear in transit systems like MARTA in Atlanta and BART in San Franciso. The Clickety Clack also pioneered the staging of open mics on afternoon commutes. They were stopped after one comedian was stabbed to death during his “Hot Shave For A Quarter” routine.


About Joe Ditzel

Joe Ditzel is a keynote speaker, humor writer, and really bad golfer. You can reach him via email at [email protected] as well as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.