Stand-Up Union Not a Joke. Really? You Don’t Say!

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

The New York Comedians Coalition has been pretty good about getting coverage for their cause, even if those stories have cliched “no joking” ledes like the one in Tuesday’s New York Times. Most of New York’s eleven (11!) comedy clubs have already agreed to raise rates for the comics, although the article suggests that the new expense might be passed on the club-goer.

The last four hold-outs in the negotiations according to a letter to Coalition membership posted at are Dangerfield’s, Standup NY, the New York Comedy Club and the New York Improv. The Times articles mentions that contacts have been made with all the clubs, so picket lines, as of now, sound unlikely.

Also posted in the same message board thread is a letter from Improv owner Al Martin where he makes the case for why he does not want to give all of the raises demanded by the Coalition. It’s a pretty compelling argument, if he had to start paying the spots set aside for developing act the same as he would “a-line” comics, it’s likely that he’d stop booking those spots for young talent. Though it’s hard to imagine what’s good for an industry when you’re trying to take care of your pocket, ensuring young comedians get exposure, even if means less money, is essential to keeping a vital industry. I won’t pretend to understand the economics of a comedy club, but I don’t believe either side has the luxury of being “right” (though the comics certainly lean more that way, considering how low their price per set was before).

According to the Coalition’s web site, the group will vote to accept or reject club’s offers this afternoon at 2:30 PM. We should know what raises and compromises have been made soon.

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