Last week, we posted a story about Jon Stewart and Anthony Cumia having an icy exchange at New York’s infamous Comedy Cellar. Not much of an event really- people disagree all the time, and it would have passed by without a thought until the incident was brought up on both Cumia’s own show and on SiriusXM’s Jim and Sam Show. The details of the conversation also made it to Page Six and Radar Online.
Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman insists that the discussion was a non-incident, but was disappointed that Cumia would air details of the disagreement publicly. Dworman initially told Page Six, “He’s violating the place and the terms that he’s treated as a guest. I don’t remember any comedian ever running to the papers or their comedy show to discuss what happened to them,” and after the story appeared on The Interrobang recounting the incident and the quote, Dworman reached out to us, to clarify some of the details.
“Nothing happened of note,” Noam insists, and contrary to Cumia’s account of the night, Dworman says the conversation never got loud or physical. “Nobody had to be held back, nobody broke them up” Noam said, and in fact, it was such a quiet conversation that he says none of the customers even became aware that there was a disagreement taking place. Noam says the only reason he intervened at all, was because he knows Cumia has a reputation for volatility and for being a “detractor” of Jon Stewart. He also described the quotes attributed to Jon Stewart in the media as “unreliable.” But most of all, Noam expressed his disappointment that although both performers shook hands before separating, by discussing the incident on his show the following day, Cumia “did not honor the sincerity of the handshake.”
Disagreements and arguments are not uncommon at the Cellar among comedians and other performers, but Dworman explained that it is an unspoken rule of the Comedy Cellar that Cellar guests don’t discuss arguments or disagreements with press. You could think of it as a “what happens in Vegas…” rule for celebrities at the club. “If Anthony Cumia had been a stranger,” Noam said, “he would have never been allowed to get within 10 feet of Jon Stewart. He violated the trust of the place by using his privileged position to gain access, and then used that access to our detriment – as material for his show.” Dworman added, “I have to do everything and anything I can to prevent that type of thing.”
The Cellar has had a long tradition of providing an environment where big name celebrity comedians- many of whom would earn six figures performing in theaters and arenas–can comfortably drop in, hang out and perform. Comedy fans from around the world flock to the Cellar to hear some of the best comedy in the country nightly, and also for the chance that they might get to see comedy royalty take the stage for the price of a pretty cheap ticket. Back in January, visitors to the Cellar were treated to performances from Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Aziz Ansari and Amy Schumer- all on one show, for a $14 ticket (and a two drink minimum, of course). Since appearing in the opening of Louis C.K.’s Louie, the Cellar has found itself appearing in the media more often- but more frequently for its notable guest performances and rarely if ever relaying gossip about those celebrities.
Dworman didn’t say whether or not Anthony would be discouraged from coming to the club. Cumia has been spending more time at the Cellar lately as he’s a frequent guest on the Chip Chipperson podcast which tapes at the Cellar.
You can read Noam’s full statement below:
“Nothing happened of note.
I don’t think that the quotes of what Jon supposedly said are in any way reliable. There was a conversation between them, but the only reason I walked over was that Anthony (fairly or unfairly, I don’t really know) has a reputation for volatility and for being a Jon Stewart detractor. I would have checked on it if it were Dan Naturman or any other comic as well. I walked over and sheepishly checked in, and both sides assured me everything was fine. Nobody had to be held back, nobody broke them up, it was not loud at all; and in a quiet restaurant, no customer even noticed that anything was going on. Minutes later they shook hands and the conversation ended.
They shook hands, but the next day on his show, in the way he spoke about Jon, Anthony clearly did not honor the sincerity of the handshake. That was disappointing.
The Comedy Cellar has always been considered off the publicity grid. This has always been an unspoken rule. Conversations or arguments between comedians are simply never ever discussed with press. Disagreements in good faith are normal and healthy, and are a necessary part of the process of reconciliation. If Anthony Cumia had been a stranger, he would have never been allowed to get within 10 feet of Jon Stewart. He violated the trust of the place by using his privileged position to gain access, and then used that access to our detriment – as material for his show. That is my main concern. I have to do everything and anything I can to prevent that type of thing.
He said on his show the next day: ‘Two adults having a conversation, why is that a thing?’. I agree. It shouldn’t be a thing. It was nothing.”