Comedy Club's Overcrowding and Late-Night Noise No Joke, Neighbors Say

By Heather Holland on April 1, 2014 7:23am 

 The New York Comedy Club is trying to renew and transfer its liquor license but is facing opposition at Community Board 6.
The New York Comedy Club is trying to renew and transfer its liquor license but is facing opposition at Community Board 6.
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Facebook/NY Comedy Club

KIPS BAY — Noisy crowds and safety issues at the New York Comedy Club are no laughing matter, neighbors said — and the venue has just one more chance to fix the problems.

Community Board 6's Business Affairs Committee voted unanimously to revoke the 241 East 24th St. club's existing liquor license based on open violations for packing too many people inside the space.

But the committee reluctantly agreed to give Emilio Savone and Scott Lindner, who are in the process of taking over the club and are applying for a liquor license transfer, a month to address the problems before the board weighs in on their liquor application.

“People are going in and out, and they’re screaming outside," said Nicole Paikoff, the CB6 committee's chairwoman, who lives across the street from the club. "People aren't getting any sleep because of all the noise."

The community board's opinion is advisory, and the State Liquor Authority makes the final decision on all license renewals and transfers. The SLA did not respond to a request for comment.

New York Comedy Club — which has drawn performers including Chris Distefano, Mike Lawrence and Rachel Feinstein — is currently owned by Al Martin, who also owns Midtown's Broadway Comedy Club. There are 13 shows per week starting as late as 11 p.m., charging a $20 admission fee with a two-drink minimum.

Martin did not attend last week's CB6 meeting and did not respond to requests for comment.

Savone described Martin as an "absentee owner" and pledged to do a better job of addressing community concerns.

“We’re going to be different," said Savone, who founded comedy and event promotion group Empire Tonight with Lindner. "One of us is always going to be there. We can make it work.”

Savone and Lindner will have to contend with issues including open Department of Buildings violations for cramming too many people into the club, records show.

The club was hit with DOB violations in July 2007 for packing up to 144 people into a space that can only safely hold 72 people, according to online records. New York Comedy Club paid more than $2,000 in penalty fees, but the violations remain unresolved, records show.

The club also has open violations from February 2010 for sharing an entrance with the residential portion of the building, which violates zoning rules, and from August 2012 for blocking a ladder to a fire escape, records show. Also in August 2012, the DOB slapped the club with a stop-work order for doing construction without a permit.

In addition, CB6 has received complaints from residents about revelers gathering on the sidewalk, said Sandro Sherrod, the board's chairman.

The issue is that the club's entry holding area can only fit about 20 people, but dozens more than that turn up for each show and are forced to wait outside until the theater space opens, Sherrod said.

"It's a small space," Sherrod said. "I think they're stuck trying to put everyone in a smaller space than they want, so they're lining up outside. We've gotten a number of complaints about how loud they are."

After debating the issue last Thursday night, CB6 voted to give the club's new owners a month to come up with ideas on how to fix the problems before weighing in on the liquor license transfer.

"You have to get creative,” said committee member Florence Friedman. “You have to come up with a creative solution to keep the lines from forming outside.”

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