It’s been a long year since you could last sit inside a space and watch live entertainment in New York (Legally, that is). After over a year of waiting, there’s finally a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for NYC’s comedy clubs and other live entertainment venues.
Today, for the first time in nearly a year, NY’s Governer Andrew Cuomo made the decision that beginning April 2nd, live entertainment venues in New York can re-open at 33% capacity. The parameters are based on two different factors, whether clubs can have ticketholders tested or not, that factor will adjust max capacities. If untested, capacity for indoor events are limited at 100, with 200 for outdoor events. If the venue is able to get tests patrons for COVID-19, then the capacity will slide up to 150 indoor and 500 outdoors. Many wonder why a distinction like this was made, we believe the tested capacity could be utilized for larger performance events such as live tapings with a production.
This is the first time clubs, who have been very vocal about getting guidance from government officials, finally got any sort of timeline for when they can have live performances in their spaces. This lack of communication has led many club owners scrambling to try to keep their businesses alive. Clubs with restaurants have been able to be open to serve patrons while others resorted to taking their shows outside on a rooftop or in the park (hell, even on a subway). While the smaller/showcase clubs around the city got scrappy and creative to stay afloat, the city’s headliner clubs whose business model is based on large acts headlining multi-night weekends have literally not opened their doors since March 2020. Unfortunately, at least two major clubs in the city permanently closed their doors because of the shutdown.
Comedian Christian Finnegan put it best when he stated at a press conference that “comedy is still happening everywhere” and the only thing the guidelines did was “prevent them from being done safely by licensed venues who know what they’re doing.”
There’s been increased pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow comedy clubs to open up again. Starting last summer, multiple rallies were held, many clubs joined NIVA’s Save Our Stages iniative (which got put in the most recent stimulus package), and this news even comes a day after the owner of Stand Up New York filed a lawsuit against the state in anger that clubs were still forced to remain closed while so many other places like movie theaters, churches, pool halls, gyms, churches, museums, and even strip clubs were permitted to open while they could not.
Today, comedy clubs like many other performance locations around NYC finally got a path to re-opening. Giving them some form of light at the end of the tunnel. This industry was one of the first to close and one of the last to open, it was hit hard. When you see the clubs open back up, buy a ticket to a show. If you aren’t comfortable going out yet, you can support them other ways by purchasing a gift certificate, maybe get some merch, or pick up some takeout. If you don’t support these clubs now, they might not be around when you want them to be months and years from now.