I appreciate the opportunity to write about the state of
the Long Island comedy scene. I just wish there were more of a scene to write
There definitely was a scene at one point, reaching its heyday with a boom
in comedy clubs in the mid- to late-1980s. Unfortunately, with the popularity
of VHS tapes, then DVDs, the Web, cable and on-demand programming, the market
for "live" stand-up comedy has diminished considerably.
At this point, you're probably wondering: What exactly is a comedy scene,
and why does Long Island need one?
Here's what a thriving comedy scene could look like:
More Long Islanders enjoying established stars and especially
up-and-comers. Imagine the thrill of discovering an emerging Jerry Seinfeld,
Eddie Murphy, Rosie O'Donnell, Jackie Martling, Kevin James, Carol Leifer or
here could do 20 or 30 years ago.
More lesser-known but very talented people actually making a living at what
they do best - making others laugh.
Why do we need it? To quote all of our parents growing up: "Because I said
so!" If that's not persuasive enough, here are a few other reasons:
Long Islanders deserve more stand-up comedy within a reasonable distance of
home. We shouldn't have to drive to the city, which has more than 20 comedy
clubs, as often as we do to see shows.
Long Island comics have been leaving the Island to pursue work elsewhere.
We really need to keep them here. Long Island needs to hold on to its bragging
rights as the nation's top breeding ground for comic talent.
How many clubs can the market bear? Nobody knows. Maybe the answer isn't
more comedy clubs, but having existing theater venues offer more opportunities
to less established comics.
There's a new generation of Long Islanders that needs to be exposed to live
comedy. Once they are, they'll be hooked and they'll support it.