Brief, repetitive interviews with comedians recalling the club that gave them their starts.
Consider this a vanity project commemorating the 35th year of the Comic Strip in Manhattan (a milestone it passed in 2011), with the club’s owner (Tienken) credited as co-author, leaving the questioning and transcribing to comedy writer Gurian (co-author: Filthy, Funny and Totally Offensive, 2007). Comedians who cut their teeth at the club still feel a great allegiance to it, so the authors have access to some of the biggest names in comedy, including Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock and Ray Romano. (Conspicuously absent is Eddie Murphy, though Tienken’s long association as his manager receives frequent mentions.) While the interviews provide a cumulative sense of what it takes to make the leap from comedy clubs to bigger projects, as well as how a comedian might get his foot in the door in the first place (perseverance would seem to be a key, and being very funny helps), there are few laughs along the way and lots of instances of the same old names. Part of the problem is the question-and-answer format, with most of the interviews starting with some version of, “What year did you start performing comedy and what are your earliest memories of The Comic Strip?”—and ending with, “Tell me about Richie Tienken.” Seinfeld says of the club, “They were happy to have us, we were happy to have them, and we were one, big happy family.” George Wallace says Seinfeld is “the nicest guy in the world.” Gilbert Gottfried, the only one who refuses to play it straight (and, thus, the funniest), says, “Seinfeld was the star of The Comic Strip. And it seemed like 99 percent of the comedians who were Comic Strip regulars would talk exactly like him…even the girls.” Among other revelations, the family of Chris Rock knows him as “Chrissy.” Toward the end, there’s also an interview with the club’s landlord, who says that he’s been to “only one” show there: “I have a feeling I must have missed some of the highlights.”
For friends and extended family of “the most legendary comic club there ever was.”