The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Caroline's Owner Says Times Square Ticket Hawkers No Laughing Matter

By Heidi Patalano | October 3, 2013 6:45am
 Caroline Hirsch is the founder of Caroline's Comedy Club.
Caroline Hirsch is the founder of Caroline's Comedy Club.
View Full Caption
Getty Images

TIMES SQUARE — Caroline Hirsch has run world world-famous Times Square comedy club "Caroline's" for the past 30 years and on Nov. 6 she’ll mark the start of the 10th annual New York Comedy Festival.

But the woman famous for discovering Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld isn’t laughing.

As she announced additions to this year’s festival lineup Wednesday — which include a talk with David Cross and Bob Odenkirk and a night with Nick Kroll in addition to 70 smaller club shows — the comedy maven said she is dismayed at how comedy club culture has changed over the years.

Particularly irksome to Hirsch are the Times Square hawkers selling tourists tickets to what they claim are Comedy Central tapings.

“I know from Comedy Central people that they have also tried to get them to cease and desist on that and I know that they haven’t,” Hirsch said.

“Most of the people are truly not there for the talent. They’re just doing it because they think they can make a few cents here and there,” she said.

Though Hirsch has tried to get the hawkers off the street as a board member for the Times Square Alliance, her attempts have been unsuccessful.

She also complained that untested comedians are getting gigs at clubs and are devaluing the price of comedy.

“You have more and more people doing comedy but they are people who are not as seasoned doing comedy,” she said.

“I’ve paid comedians very generously for their talent and we charge people to come here,” Hirsch added. “We don’t just give it away for free. I find that a lot of clubs are taking the lowest common way to do it and opening their doors, having somebody just buy two drinks from them. It’s really not the caliber of Caroline’s.”

But for all these annoyances, Hirsch still remains near the top of New York City’s comedy food chain and her 10th festival will highlight that reality. Friends of Hirsch, new and old, will take to the stage to perform and/or discuss their work including high-wattage comedians Larry David, Kathy Griffin and Wanda Sykes.

“We take the high road and we produce great acts all over the city,” Hirsch said. “It’s an extension of Caroline’s because it's everybody whose worked here and appeared here over the ages.

The New York Comedy Festival runs from November 6th to 10th. To learn about the schedule and get ticket information, click here.