Rick Newman, the man responsible for Catch A Rising Star, which he opened in Manhattan at the end of 1972, has been a good friend of mine for many years, and he gave me this inside scoop which I will share with you Laugh Button readers.
Rick and his partner, Peter Martin, have undertaken a complete overhaul of what was The Triad Theatre on West 72nd Street, (which has been owned by Martin for the last 16 years), to come up with a place “non pareil” in New York nightlife, (in other words, that can not be compared to, for you non-linguists), which will tentatively be called “Variety 72 Theatre.”
This is the former space where once a month, on Monday evenings, for the last four years, Rick has been offering his international hit “Celebrity Autobiography,” where celebs come in and read other celebs autobiographies. It’s been a huge smash!
Some of the New York regulars who appear are Susie Essman, Joy Behar, Matthew Broderick, John Leguizamo, Martin Short, Brooke Shields, Mario Cantone, Sherri Shepherd, Alan Zweibel, Rachel Dratch, and Kristen Wiig! It’s like a who’s who of comedy and showbiz in general! And I hear there’s actually a waiting list of celebs who would like to appear.
This new expensively overhauled theatre is set to be re-launched this coming November, right in time to run a week of shows during Caroline Hirsch’s New York Comedy Festival. As a matter of fact, the entire month of November will feature new “avant garde” productions in comedy, music, one person shows, plays, and seminars. According to Rick, “there’s no other place quite like it!”
They even installed a complete state-of-art projection unit for screenings plus a luxury green-room. Rick has always stayed current with trends so part of the transformation of the theater “is to make it flexible and be able to use as a studio for the Internet,” he said.
“We are hoping to be able to provide new original programming for the Internet and for fresh talent and their ideas.”
And it’s thanks to Susie Essman that Rick ever got involved with Celebrity Autobiography. Four years ago, Susie called Rick all excited and told him he needed to come and see her in this show Celebrity Autobiography. He went, and was hooked from the first night.
The four producers at the time were seeking a fifth producer, and Rick became that producer, but with his own billing. It’s Peter Martin, Angelo Fraboni, Eugene Pack, and Dayle Reyfel in association with Rick Newman! That’s very cool!
Rick is also the Exec. Producer of a new online series for Comedy Central called Thirty Seconds Over Washington, an updated version of a show he did 16 years ago for HBO, with Dennis Miller and Bill Maher.
It consists of political commercials with comics doing analyses and comedic commentary before and after the commercial.
Rick also appears in my new book with Chris Rock, Make ‘Em Laugh: 35 Years of the Comic Strip, the Greatest Comedy Club of All Time!, a book I wrote with owner/founder of The Comic Strip, Richie Tienken.
Richie Tienken was present when I did Rick’s interview at The Strip and Richie had the opportunity to tell Rick that he was his idol and the inspiration for The Comic Strip. That was a very special moment in comedy history and I felt privileged to be present for that, …with these two lions of comedy!