UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Call it an open-mic miracle: Comic Strip Live has reopened on the Upper East Side and hopes to sign a new lease for its Second Avenue digs, squashing speculation that the famed club comedy had closed for good.
Closed for a year due to the pandemic, the revered spot was put up for rent by a real estate company this winter. His listing boasted that the club, between East 81st and 82nd Streets, was available for the first time in 45 years.
In fact, when Patch reported on the listing last week, Comic Strip management was hastily preparing to reopen on April 2 – the day entertainment venues will be allowed to welcome customers back under new guidelines. of the state, general manager Tommy Latsch told Patch this week.
The reopening could allow Comic Strip to sign a new lease that would allow them to stay open for another decade, Latsch said Tuesday, standing inside the empty club that would soon be ringing with its first laughs since 2020.
“The lease should be ready any day now,” Latsch said, adding that the club agreed terms last Friday with owner Eberhart Brothers.
Since last March, Eberhart had allowed Comic Strip to remain closed without paying rent. As the months passed, however, this became unsustainable and the company had no choice but to rent out the space.
“We hadn’t received rent for about a year,” Oren Goldstein, chief operating officer of Eberhart Brothers, told Patch on Thursday. “So at some point you have to hedge your options.”
Eberhart promised to keep the list “low” and avoid publishing it, in the hope that Comic Strip can stay, Latsch said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement on March 3 that live shows could resume in April was a game-changer – although the 33% capacity limit will limit the 200-person venue to just about 44 patrons.
“You can’t live off this,” Latsch said. “Until they lift it, that’s what it is.”
Comic Strip Live opened in 1976 and helped launch the careers of Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler, among others. Seinfeld returned to the club in 2017 to film a Netflix special.
Now owned by Jean Tienken – whose husband, Richie, co-founded the club and died in February – it’s been a mainstay of the city’s stand-up scene for nearly half a century.
Tickets are on sale now for the club’s first week of shows, which begin at 7 p.m. Friday with comedians Chuck Nice, Alli Breen and others. There will be temperature checks at the door, face masks required and seating will be away from the stage to protect both fans and performers.
“I think the comics are just as nervous as the customers,” Latsch said.
Comic Strip’s new lease would allow the club to start paying rent at a low amount, increasing the amount as capacity limits are relaxed, Latsch said.
Goldstein, of Eberhart Brothers, warned the lease had not been finalized, but said the reopening of Comic Strip made it much more likely he would stay.
“It’s always easier when tenants pay rent,” he said.
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