#277 The New York Comedy Scene: A Marvelous History

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By Tom Meyers and Bowery Boys Media. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

New York City has always cast a melodramatic profile in past Bowery Boys podcasts, but in this episode, we're walking on the funny side of the street to reveal the city's unique relationship with live comedy.

The award-winning show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel depicts the birth of modern stand-up comedy in the late 1950s, forged by revolutionary voices in the small coffeehouses of Greenwich Village. But New Yorkers had been laughing for decades by that point.

Most of the early American comedy greats got their starts on the New York vaudeville stage -- like the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges and Eddie Cantor. By the 1940s, comedy stars came from the New York supper clubs, cementing a particular style of broad, big-joke comedy. The first major stars of television came from a different pool of talent -- young Jewish entertainers, updating the vaudeville feel for TV broadcast.

But the counterculture movements in Greenwich Village would help comedians evolve more personal -- and more explicit -- acts as they performed along side beat poets and jazz musicians. In 1963, an enterprising club owner named Budd Friedman would change comedy forever in a tiny room in Hell's Kitchen.

The rise of the comedy club and opportunities like Saturday Night Live would create a specific brand of New York City comedy, and the local stages would help create major film and television stars during the 1980s. With Seinfeld, in 1989, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David would create the perfect fusion of stand-up and New York City attitude. But the following decade brought in new voices and a surprising new direction.

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