In 1976, the Comic Strip opened its doors on the Upper East Side on 2nd Avenue at 82nd street. Forty years later, the Strip is the oldest continuously running club in New York City and still one of the best rooms in the city to perform comedy in. The show recently celebrated its incredible comedy history with a comedy show and a book signing event in honor of the release of the updated book that tells the incredible history of the club, “Laughing Legends: How The Comic Strip Club Changed The Face of Comedy.”
The book’s author—comedian, writer, and columnist Jeffrey Gurian—hosted the show and talked a bit about the club’s history, sharing some terrific stories. After getting the crowd laughing with some great self-deprecating material about his own appearance and one of the funniest iPhone jokes you’ve ever heard, Jeffrey talked about some of the club’s famous alums, including Jerry Seinfeld who he said came in to audition the very first night the club opened. The slip that the club keeps for new comics said he was rated “good,” and they invited him back on a Monday. Gurian said it was at the Strip that Jerry first started making enough money to quit working in a restaurant and focus on comedy—$100 a week which was huge at the time. He talked about how Chris Rock would set up chairs in exchange for late night stage time, and the club gave him his first break, putting him on early after Eddie Murphy remarked that there weren’t enough black comics performing there.
Jeffrey also lined up an outstanding slate of comedians to fill the two hour plus show. Jon Rudnitsky, Mike Vecchione, Brian McFadden, Chuck Nice, Nore Davis, World Champion Judah Friedlander, and Leonard Outzs, all performed to big laughs.
Rudnitsky wasted no time talking about losing his gig with Saturday Night Live. He was at his absolute best working the crowd, doing his killer Trump impression, and talking about his future plans which seem to have a lot to do with modeling the career of another SNL alum who only had one season—Robert Downey Jr. Everyone had great sets, but a few notes we can’t help but mention—30 Rock’s own Judah Friedlander in a different realm from anyone else on the planet. We don’t know exactly how he does what he does or even how to adequately describe it, but we can only say that the World Champ moniker is actually earned.
Two other names that have to be singled out are Mike Vecchione and Leonard Outzs. Vecchione jokes that he looks like a New York cop, and that may be true, but he doesn’t in any way fit the cop stereotype on stage. In fact, he doesn’t fit any stereotype. His delivery is all his own, and he slays every single time on stage. Speaking of under-recognized talent, the final performer of the night, Leonard Outzs is a star just waiting to be seen. A powerhouse in every way, he has the delivery, material, and the personality to become America’s next killer sweetheart.
After the show ended, Jeffrey Gurian sat down with club owner Richie Tienken to sign copies of his new book and everyone had a great time. The entire night was a fitting tribute to a club with a remarkable history. The book is available everywhere books are sold.