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December 26, 2022 11:42 am
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New York Loses Another Comedy — and Jewish — Landmark

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avatar by Alan Zeitlin

Opinion

Caroline’s on Broadway. Photo: Wiki Commons.

“What could possibly go wrong?” a friend asked me, when I told him I was taking a young Orthodox woman I liked on a date to Caroline’s on Broadway, the iconic Manhattan comedy club.

I was excited to see Tracy Morgan’s triumphant return, after a car accident that almost killed him.

Sitting in the third row, I knew there was a chance he would make a joke about me or my date.

Then it happened.

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He asked the Orthodox Jewish woman sitting next to me an incredibly inappropriate question. She blushed. He waited. Then waited some more. Then Morgan went back to his act.

The date didn’t work out, but it wasn’t Morgan’s fault.

The Manhattan comedy club, located by West 49th street, has a famous series of steps you have to walk down. The last time I was there, I saw a great performance by Pete Davidson. I will never forget seeing the late Gilbert Gottfried perform there, and laughing hysterically when he asked why I wouldn’t buy his book.

Founded by Caroline Hirsch, who told the New York Post that a new lease would be too expensive, a number of great Jewish performers took the stage there. I got to see an unbelievable performance by Harrison Greenbaum, who combined observational humor with great physical comedy.

Caroline’s on Broadway was one of the clubs I would always take a date to. They say comedy helps the immune system, and can help you live longer. I don’t know if that is scientifically true or not, but it would make sense. And having a great sense of humor was always a good test for a potential new partner.

Many Jewish comedians I’ve interviewed over the years, from Jackie Mason to Gottfried, to Elon Gold to Modi Rosenfeld, said that since Jews worry about everything, it makes sense that there are so many good Jewish comedians.

I’m sorry to see the club close; it’s definitely the end of an era.

I’ve been to more than 200 comedy shows, but I will never forget the time I went to Caroline’s with two friends from Pittsburgh, and we planned to leave early to see a movie. We didn’t want to insult the comic, so we decided that we would leave one at a time, in order to arouse the least amount of attention. I walked to the stairs. All good. Unfortunately, a friend who is on the taller side, knocked over a glass.

“Mazel Tov,” the comedian said, as the crowd burst into laughter. “Why are you leaving? Are you on your way to a bris? Are you leaving because the check’s about to come.”

We are on this earth for a certain amount of time. Our brains are triggered to remember the times we’ve cried. Make sure to make room in your life for the memorable moments when you laughed.

The author is a writer based in New York.

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