Comedy Cellar Owner Noam Dworman: Every Good Comic in the City is Working At the Cellar

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, owner of the infamous Comedy Cellar in New York City’s west village, stopped by the Bennington show at SiriusXM last week.  Dworman talked with hosts Ron Bennington and Gail Bennington about comedy in New York City, and particularly at The Cellar, a comedy institution.  Along with sister club, the Village Underground, Noam sells out 35 shows every week, boasts the best “scene” in the country, and thanks to “Louie” is arguably the most visually recognizable comedy club in the world.  The Cellar also has some of the biggest celebrity names in the business dropping by on a daily basis to do guest sets.

Every good comic in the city is working at the Cellar and there are no other good comics working at any other club.

“If you’re a comedy nerd, to go to the Comedy Cellar some nights, it’s like being there on a night where Paul McCartney shows up, then the Rolling Stones show up, and then, Springsteen. Sometimes we have those nights, you can’t even believe it,” Dworman told the Bennington show.

Noam is fully aware that right now the Cellar is enjoying a unique place in comedy history, and he doesn’t play it down. He unapologetically told Bennington, that the acts that the Cellar has cultivated are the best in New York. Even beyond the “very famous people” like , or , the Cellar has become well known for hand picking some gigantic talents.  Like who Noam calls “Carlin-esque” and has been a rising talent at the Cellar,  and who Noam refers to as the fastest riser he’s ever seen.

“There’s only like 20 acts in the city who I think really really kill; everybody else is really a notch below.” Dworman said.  “And all those acts are basically only working at the Comedy Cellar now. So except for a night where somebody is headlining at Gotham or something like that, I really feel, and I really believe this: that every good comic in the city is working at the Cellar and there are no other good comics working at any other club. Not with any predictability anyway.”

The comedy cellar is a very very nice room and so is the Underground but the heartbeat of the place is that table.”

One of the reasons for the Cellar’s success is the infamous comedy table.  Just a short stairway above the Cellar stage, lies “the table” at the attached Olive Tree Cafe, where every night the greatest comedians in New York (and the world) hang out, make each other laugh, eat and drink.  They come to Cellar sometimes, just to sit at the table even if they’re not planning to perform.  Names like Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Louis C.K., and Jon Stewart sit down at “the table” when they’re in town along with New York’s best performers like , , , , , , , and (and the list goes on and on).  “It’s not the stage,” he said. “The comedy cellar is a very very nice room and so is the Underground but the heartbeat of the place is that table.”

it works best in a particular environment, with brick walls, and warmth, and earthy materials and seating close together. There will never be a better environment for that.” 

Creating a scene isn’t something that can be done by design.  When Noam goes to work, he said, his focus is on that table, creating a scene where the waitstaff treat the comics well, and nobody bothers them.  “It’s not going to happen at a place where they’re focusing simply at putting people in the seats. It happens when an owner actually wants to have a scene. And that’s the way it always was in my family. It wasn’t just about the show it was the whole….it was my fathers, and it’s my social life.”  Noam referred to that building process as a slow burn, where he resisted the temptation to hand out tickets or use traditional marketing, or fill seats with staff members. “There was no future in that,” he said. “And it paid off. It’s been building up over 15 years.”

Noam also credits the Cellar’s success to keeping the showroom simple.  “Maybe I shouldn’t say this,” he said,  “I think one of the mistakes some of the other comedy clubs have made over the years is trying to purposely not look as comedy clubs have traditionally looked. They try to be more upscale, they try to give people more space between the seats, almost everything to not be cliche but the truth is it works best in a particular environment, with brick walls, and warmth, and earthy materials and seating close together.  There will never be a better environment for that.”


You can hear Noam’s weekly radio show, Comedy Cellar Radio on Thursdays at 7pm on Raw Dog Comedy Club 99, and go see a show at the Comedy Cellar or the Village Underground to watch some of the best comedy in the country every night of the week. Visit comedycellar.com.  Listen to Bennington every day from noon to 3pm on SiriusXM Raw Dog Comedy Club 99.  The Bennington show covers everything in comedy daily.

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