If you consider yourself a comedy nerd in any capacity, next time you visit New York City, you’ll need to drop by the legendary Comic Strip Live, which sits proudly on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It’s where a seemingly countless number of iconic comedians got their start: Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Ray Romano, Jon Stewart, Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Dave Attell and Jerry Seinfeld are but a few names. The room is so iconic, in fact, that there’s now an entire book dedicated to its history.
Written by longtime comedy scribe and professional comedy man-about-town, Jeffrey Gurian and his close friend and Comic Strip owner Richie Tienken, Make ‘Em Laugh: 35 years of the Comic Strip, the Greatest Comedy Club of All Time!, is jam packed with interviews from some of the aforementioned names and many more.
In his introduction to the book, Chris Rock explains that comedy clubs are like colleges for comedians.
“The two main schools [in New York City in the 1980s] were Catch a Rising Star and The Comic Strip. Catch was Yale, and the Strip was Illinois State University, Urbana,” writes Rock. “Catch was stressful, like you were always on the verge of being expelled if you didn’t keep up your grades. The Strip was laid back. If you put in the work and studied, you would do well. But if you blew off a term smoking pot, it didn’t go on your permanent record.”
Throughout its 200 pages, Make ‘Em Laugh not only paints an enormously fun and gritty portrait of the club, but it also allows comedy fans novel access into the lives of comedians. For instance, did you know Jerry Seinfeld only graduated from Queens College because he convinced the school to let him do a 12-credit independent study in stand-up comedy? And that Colin Quinn had to quit is job as a bartender at the Strip because in those days you couldn’t work there and perform there at the same time? Well, both of those things are true.
And there’s so much more in the book. If you ever wanted to feel like a comedy world insider, this will help you get there. We highly recommend you pick up a copy now. Just click the link below!