Last night was TriBeCa Comedy Collective’s last show at TriBeCa Comedy Club. We had a great audience of 40, and an incredible line up. David Lee Nelson, Mick Diflo, Jermaine Fowler, Charlie Kasov and of course Andrew Schwartztol all made the night a success. Andrew’s parents came, which was fun. Despite how Andrew turned out his parents seemed like normal old well adjusted white people.
So, it turns out a couple of crazy young comics can put together a pretty impressive show. But we couldn’t hold it togetherfor the long haul. A combination of things led to our downfall. The new manager is in jail for fraud. TriBeCa Comedy Collective outlasted the profit driven club model- at least for now. But he managed to do a lot of damage during the short time he “managed” the club. It was hard to navigate between the manager’s ego, our own vision, and the insistent siren of the “bottom line.” Our shows suffered during his brief tenure. It is unfortunately always easier to tear something down than it is to build. So after his magnificent fall, we begin building our community again with new faces, new ideas, and a renewed sense of strength and vision- but with less energy.
Here are the obstacles. The manager ran a groupon claiming that the shows ticket price was $30. A lot of people left feeling “ripped off.” We never pretended to be a $30 show. We’re a $10 show. If you set expectations high and fail to meet them, you get a lot of bad yelp reviews. He advertised comics who did not perform, so we got a lot of people in the room who expected a specific name….so even great comics, who weren’t who they “paid to see” disappointed. During the shows his presence made everyone nervous and focused on the wrong thing. Good comedy shouldn’t feel like you’re “hustling” anyone. We stopped having fun.
In order to build that room, we needed autonomy and we needed security. Having another show either right after or right before wasn’t a problem in and of itself, but the implied competition was stressful rather than motivational. We weren’t able to give the comics in TCC the freedom/security to develop organically instead we pushed everything too quickly. The little things became stressful with the manager’s implied threat hanging over us. I turned into a campaign manager again. I was micromanaging, pushing people to think about all the wrong things.
After a few back and forths with the owner I decided to walk away. We have different visions. I wasn’t having fun anymore. Good luck to the new managers, I wish you the best, but you have to dig out of a pretty deep hole.