Interview with Al Martin, Owner of the Broadway Comedy Club & Greenwich Village Comedy Club
Written by Joseph Santiago
Al Martin sat down with Best Comedy Tickets. Seated at Greenwich Village Comedy Club on MacDougal Street, we spoke about comedy business, New York comedy scene, his dream comedy lineup and so much more.
How long have you been in the comedy business?
How did you get into the comedy business?
Started as a comedian could not get stage time so I started my own little one night a week by Grand Central Station… To get customers I would stand outside of Grand Central on a Saturday and bark people in…
Are they any new trends in the comedy business, like Alternative Comedy was a couple of years ago?
Every couple years and alternative comedy wave start’s… And then seems to end…
Where do you see the comedy business headed?
A lot of online and digital stuff… To me, like in sports there’s nothing like being at the live event
Tell me about the New York comedy scene. What are you excited about?
The energy and diverse it T of the New York comedy scene is something that is always an incredible to watch… There are all sorts of shows to watch… Urban shows Gay shows, trans shows
How did pitching comedy tickets on the Manhattan street get started?
In 1996 two guys by the name of Emerson Moncure and Mark Wiggington push me on the idea of selling tickets in time square up until that point showing tickets was primarily door to door in office buildings
I started pitching comedy tickets with you way in 2001. How has it changed?
In the old days it was team based… meeting in the club in the morning, and then hitting the streets with a sense of camaraderie …
What do you think holds most comedians back from being the best they can be?
Themselves, and lack of drive… also, some comedians face the obstacle of being too successful in their day jobs to quit… some aspiring comedians have too many family obligations to really pursue a career it takes great work.
What do you look for in a comedian that is showcasing for you?
That they are first and foremost funny, funny and more funny…. My two clubs each have a different dynamic…. Broadway comedy club at times to get a lot of tourists from flyover states and overseas, therefore, we need cleaner comedians…. Greenwich Village comedy club and therefore we need edgier comics…
How do you find up-and-coming comedians?
Word-of-mouth, comedian recommendations, I can usually watch shows and showcases and occasionally we do have auditions… I am very into also promoting from within, that is taking a close look at our producers, and interns to see any major improvement
Bombing on stage is a lot like bombing on a first date: the awkward silences, sweaty palms. In your experience, is there a graceful way to recover and turn it around?
Always focus on those were laughing do not focus on those who try too much to focus on the ones not laughing, you lose everyone.
Is it true that all comedians are secretly depressed?
I think Most are.I think that is part of what makes them funny…
What’s your favorite hang-out spot?
Broadway Comedy Club Green Room
Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I have been told I have a great sense of loyalty, sometimes to a fault…
Were you nervous on the first night you opened your comedy doors?
Of course, but all The clubs I open that off to good starts and for that I am blessed…
What other memories stand out from that very first night?
The Broadway comedy club opening night festivities were incredible…That club opened as the Improv…It was quite a party, Joe Piscopo, Robert Klein, Dave Attell, Judy Gold, Eddie Brill, Jim Gaffigan, Rich Voss all performed.
What is it like for a day in the life of a comedy club owner (emails, phone calls, booking, etc)?
Exactly that, booking shows, handling marketing, Laison with outside producers, keeping an eye on social media and the website, doing interviews like this, lol
What path would you suggest a new comedian take to getting paid gigs?
Work work work, intern, bark, produce, do bringers, do mics, anything that gets you on stage…Stay humble make friends, do not alienate people, your peers will help you get gigs down the road…
What is the number one mistake a new comedian can make on stage?
Arrogance, Bugging management and waitstaff, being late and going over the light.
What is the craziest thing that has happened during a show that you have witnessed?
Marriage Proposals, a customer getting naked, one time we had a leak in the room and a customer sat there with their umbrella opened…A customer once was not satisfied with service was actually sitting in the showroom, called the club and asked if we can send a waiter back…people who show up an hour late and expect that their reservation should be honored.
Where do you see for the future of stand up comedy heading?
I think there will be a consolidation, the rumors are out there that there are some clubs struggling.
Many young comedians have come through your doors. What tips do you give younger comedians to achieve success in the comedy business?
As I said above, work, work work
Comedians get a lot of heat for their controversial acts. Do you think it’s off when they are criticized for being insensitive?
I think there should be no taboo subjects if the audience is not happy they will let the comedian know.
Is there a line they shouldn’t cross or is everything fair game?
All fair game at their peril…
What is your favorite quote?
Treat others as you would have others treat you, Keep your friends close but your enemies even closer
If you could book the dream lineup dead or alive who would be on your show?
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