Carolines on Broadway
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The First Name in Comedy
|Location||New York City, New York|
Carolines first opened as a cabaret in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood in1981. Owner Hirsch, a lifelong comedy fan, soon began booking comedians. The comedy acts – which included now legendary performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Rosie O’Donnell and Jay Leno – were a tremendous success, and Carolines soon became a full-fledged comedy nightclub.
Carolines moved to New York’s historic South Street Seaport in 1997 where became established as the country’s top comedy venue. It also served as home to the A&E Network’s highly successful series, “Caroline’s Comedy Hour,” filming 120 hours of stand-up comedy, which ran for six years and ultimately won a CableACE award for "Best Stand-Up Comedy Series."
In 1992, Hirsch relocated the club to its current location in Times Square. Today, Carolines on Broadway holds center stage in the heart of Times Square as one of New York City’s most popular and enduring nightspots and as the city’s only genuine nightclub. It is a New York institution and was one of the cornerstones in the revitalization of Times Square. The 300-seat club with an elegant decor received critical acclaim when it received the American Institute of Architecture Award for Best Interior Club Design and was featured on the cover of Interior Design Magazine.
Carolines celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2003 with a gala comedy concert at Carnegie Hall that featured performances by many of the comedians who had risen through the ranks to stardom under Hirsch’s watchful eye. Among those who helped fete Caroline were Richard Belzer, Lewis Black, Mario Cantone, Judy Gold, Gilbert Gottfried, David Alan Grier, Denis Leary, Kevin Meaney, Paul Mooney, Colin Quinn, Caroline Rhea, Jeffrey Ross, and, in a surprise appearance, Jon Stewart.
The following year, Caroline launched the New York Comedy Festival (NYCF), a week long comedy festival that features more than 200 of the industry’s biggest stars performing in over 100 shows at New York’s most prestigious venues, including BAM, the Beacon Theatre, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, and Town Hall. In its fifteen-year history, the NYCF has featured a who’s who of comic luminaries that includes Judd Apatow, Aziz Ansari, Bill Burr, Dane Cook, Billy Crystal, Larry David, Jim Gaffigan, Ricky Gervais, Kathy Griffin, Kevin Hart, Artie Lange, Denis Leary, Norma Macdonald, Bill Maher, Marc Maron, Tracy Morgan, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt, Brian Regan, Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Robin Williams, and many more. The Festival, presented in association with tbs, celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in November 2018. The 2020 NYCF was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was announced that the 2021 NYCF will take place November 8 – 14, 2021.
The NYCF has also spotlighted some of the industry’s talented up-and-comers through such events as the “New York’s Funniest” competition, in which New York stand-up comedians are invited to vie for a cash prize and a coveted spot on a major festival show. The competition was taped at the 2015 NYCF and debuted in 2016 on NBC Enterprises’ SeeSo digital platform and currently airs as VOD on the Comcast Network.
The NYCF has also featured the country’s brightest young stars in the annual “Comics to Watch” show, which put the spotlight on current stars including Michael Che and Michelle Wolf, among others.
In 2006, Caroline launched Stand-Up for Heroes as part of the NYCF, a benefit for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which supports wounded veterans and their families. To date, Stand Up for Heroes has featured the likes of Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, John Oliver, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Seth Meyers, Conan O’Brien, Ray Romano, Robin Williams and Bruce Springsteen.
In 2012 Carolines produced “On the Chopping Block: A Roast of Anthony Bourdain,” hosted by Mario Batali and Willie Geist, at Chelsea Piers to benefit the Food Bank for New York City. Also in 2012, Carolines produced Kevin Hart’s Madison Square Garden shows as part of the NYCF that were filmed for the theatrical release of his feature concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, which was released in July 2013.
As one of the country’s most popular destinations for live entertainment, Carolines on Broadway today stands as the crowning achievement of Caroline Hirsch's extraordinary 35-year career. Caroline continues to prove that she is both an innovator and visionary in the fast-paced, constantly evolving entertainment industry by continually growing the Carolines and New York Comedy Festival brands and producing projects both in and out of the comedy space.