30 Dec Caroline Hirsch and Carolines on Broadway Honored by the National Comedy Center
Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the National Comedy Center with Caroline Hirsch, Founder and Owner of Carolines on Broadway
New York, NY – December 29, 2022 – The National Comedy Center, the nation’s official cultural institution dedicated to the art of comedy, will honor Caroline Hirsch and the 40-year legacy of her iconic Carolines comedy club, by preserving artifacts from Carolines on Broadway, which will be preserved and placed on display at the National Comedy Center’s state-of-the-art museum in Jamestown, New York in 2023.
Caroline Hirsch, founder and owner of Carolines on Broadway, and Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the National Comedy Center made the announcement at the legendary comedy club this afternoon, joined by Ross Levi, Executive Director of I LOVE NEW YORK, and Tom Harris, President of the Times Square Alliance, as the club prepares for its final shows this weekend. Earlier this month, it was announced that the club will not renew its lease after 30 years of presenting stand-up comedy and will close its renowned Times Square location at the end of the year.
“Caroline Hirsch has been a vital force for nurturing comedic talent for 40 years now, and Carolines on Broadway has been one of the world’s most important venues for showcasing the art form of stand-up comedy,” stated Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center Executive Director. “Comedy material born and polished here went on to be the stuff of specials and albums seen by millions — the most widely known comedy in our cultural consciousness was often born here.
“Caroline operated this club in pursuit of great art and Comedy is better for it. We are honored to preserve Carolines’ rich legacy and tell this important story in our museum in Jamestown, NY,” added Gunderson.
“We are so proud to have provided a platform for such incredible talent — who have brought laughter to New Yorkers and audiences from around the world here in Times Square,” stated Caroline Hirsch, Founder and Owner of Carolines on Broadway. “While our brand will continue to expand in new ways in the coming years, we’re thrilled that the Carolines on Broadway story can be preserved and celebrated at the National Comedy Center for generations to come.”
Items being preserved by the National Comedy Center include the iconic stage, backdrop bearing the world-renowned harlequin Carolines logo, showroom curtains, the microphone, signage, “barfly” stools and entry doors.
“For New York State, comedy is serious business because when you have one of the most famous comedy clubs in the world in New York City, coupled with the only museum dedicated to comedy in the U.S., it makes New York State a mecca for the best in comedy. We look forward to Caroline’s next chapter ahead and know she’ll keep the comedy flame burning bright,” said Ross Levi, Executive Director of I LOVE NEW YORK.
“Caroline has been an integral part of the Times Square Community for 30 years and helped spur the revitalization of Times Square. While it is sad when a great show on Broadway closes, great shows go on tour, so I am looking at this as Carolines on tour to upstate New York in Jamestown. The best shows always have a revival, so my wish for 2023 is that there will be a revival of Carolines in Times Square in 2023,” said Tom Harris, President of the Times Square Alliance.
Carolines began 40 years ago in Chelsea and later moved to the South Street Seaport before calling Times Square home in 1992, playing an integral role in the resurgence of the Times Square area. Carolines has showcased the world’s greatest comedic talent through the years including Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, Margaret Cho, Jay Leno, Michael Che, Sandra Bernhard, Wanda Sykes, Tracy Morgan, Jo Koy, Kevin Hart, Bill Burr, Rosie O’Donnell, and many more.
The National Comedy Center opened in 2018 and has collaborated with dozens of artists and estates to preserve materials that represent comedy’s significant artistic, social, and political contributions to American culture including collections illustrating the careers of legendary artists like George Carlin, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Carl Reiner, Betty White, Johnny Carson, Lenny Bruce, The Smothers Brothers, and the development of groundbreaking creative work such as sketch comedy series In Living Color, Saturday Night Live, and more.
Two new exhibits opened this past summer – Johnny Carson: The Immersive Experience Hosted by Jimmy Fallon, a multi-screen theater presentation celebrating Johnny Carson’s 30 years hosting The Tonight Show 30 years later, and Carl Reiner: Keep Laughing, a multi-media, interactive exhibit that honors and celebrates Carl Reiner during his centennial year.
Within the Comedy Center’s museum galleries, more than 50 interactive exhibits and immersive experiences employ cutting-edge technology to present the story of comedy from its origins to the present day – using archival documents, artifacts, and media as their core. Its educational programming on the art form has featured George Lopez, Tiffany Haddish, Margaret Cho, Norman Lear, Debra Messing, Rain Pryor (daughter of Richard Pryor), Jay Leno, Kenan Thompson, Gabriel Iglesias, Ben Stiller, John Cleese, Jimmy Fallon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and many more.
The National Comedy Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural institution whose mission is funded by philanthropic support. Donations and grants support the museum and its work to present the vital story of comedy and preserve its heritage for future generations. Visit comedycenter.org.
About the National Comedy Center
The National Comedy Center is the United States’ official cultural institution and museum dedicated to presenting the vital story of comedy and preserving its heritage for future generations, as formally designated by the U.S. Congress. Opened in 2018 in Jamestown, New York, the museum complex offers an unprecedented, immersive visitor experience using state-of-the-art technology, interactivity and personalization.
USA Today named the National Comedy Center the “Best New Museum in the Country, TIME magazine named it one of its “World’s Greatest Places” and U.S. News & World Report selected it as one of the “25 Top Family Weekend Getaways in the U.S.,” while Condé Nast Traveler called the National Comedy Center “one of the best museums in the country,” and People magazine named it one of “100 Reasons to Love America.”
The National Comedy Center has been featured in The New York Times, on CBS Saturday Morning, CBS Sunday Morning and on NBC’s TODAY Show, which called it “the Smithsonian of Comedy.”
Visitors from all 50 states and eighteen countries have given the Center a rare 5/5 rating on TripAdvisor, ranking among the highest in the attraction and tourism industry.
Based on the vision of Jamestown native Lucille Ball for her hometown to become a destination for comedy, the non-profit National Comedy Center showcases comedy’s great minds and unique voices in ways that engage, inspire, educate and entertain. The Comedy Center’s mission is to provide education on the comedic arts in the form of commentary and contextualization of its bodies of work across all eras and genres of the art form.
Design for the National Comedy Center was led by the most prominent cultural and interactive design firms in the world, whose portfolios collectively include the award-winning 9/11 Memorial Museum, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, SNL: The Experience, and more.
The National Comedy Center operates the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, which explores the lives, careers and legacy of the “First Couple of Comedy” and the incredible impact they had on the world, as well as the pioneering role and remarkable influence that I Love Lucy and Desilu Studios had on the entertainment industry for generations to come.
The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, produced and presented by the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY has showcased comedy’s greatest stars and rising young comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld, Trevor Noah, Lily Tomlin, John Mulaney, Jay Leno, Amy Schumer, Sebastian, Maniscalco W. Kamau Bell, Jim Gaffigan, Paula Poundstone, Joan Rivers, and more than one hundred other comedic artists. This past summer, the 2022 festival featured Margaret Cho, Jeff Foxworthy, SNL alumni David Spade, Rob Schneider and Kevin Nealon, and over 50 live events.
The National Comedy Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural institution whose mission is funded by philanthropic support. Donations and grants support the museum and its work to present the vital story of comedy and preserve its heritage for future generations.
Carolines first opened as a small cabaret club in the New York’s Chelsea neighborhood in 1982. Owner Caroline Hirsch, began booking comedy acts – which included now legendary performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Billy Crystal, Rosie O’Donnell and Jay Leno – and it wasn’t long before Carolines became a full-fledged comedy club becoming THE place to see live comedy in New York City.
The great demand for comedy brought standing-room-only crowds to Carolines, which moved to a larger space at New York’s historic South Street Seaport where business continued to thrive. It also became home to the A&E Network’s highly successful series, “Caroline’s Comedy Hour,” which would eventually garner the prestigious Cable ACE Award for “Best Comedy Series.” In 1992, Hirsch once again relocated her club, to its grand setting on Broadway in Times Square, where the club continues to present the country’s biggest and best comedians in a sophisticated, state-of-the-art nightclub, bringing the live comedy experience to new heights.
Carolines on Broadway is a New York institution and was one of the cornerstones in the revitalization of the vibrant and bustling Times Square district. The 300-seat venue, designed by Paul and Barbara Haigh of HAIGH Architects received critical acclaim when it received the American Institute of Architects National Honor Award for Interiors and a United States Institute of Theatre Technology Merit Award for Best Club Design, it also featured on the cover of Interior Design Magazine.
In addition to presenting such top headlining comedians, the club also features emerging talent, live podcasts, and improv and sketch comedy, as well as playing host to countless large-scale fund-raising events. Hirsch, a long-time Ms. Foundation board member, created an annual fundraiser “The Ms. Foundation’s Women of Comedy” which recently aired on the Lifetime Television Network to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Ms. Foundation. Additionally, Carolines hosts a highly successful annual fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, which honors the late Madeline Kahn. In 2003, the club celebrated 20 years of laughter with a gala at Carnegie Hall that featured performances by long-time club favorites Joy Behar, Richard Belzer, Lewis Black, David Alan Grier, Gilbert Gottfried, and Colin Quinn, launching the highly successful New York Comedy Festival, that presents comedy’s biggest stars in New York’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, the Beacon Theatre, Madison Square Garden, and the Hulu Theater. In 2007, The Festival launched Stand-Up for Heroes, a very special benefit for The Bob Woodruff Foundation that has featured appearances by John Oliver, Robin Williams, Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Tony Bennett and Bruce Springsteen. The nineteenth annual New York Comedy Festival will take place in November 2023.
Twitter and Instagram: @carolinesonbway