After more than 45 years of laughs, Comic Strip Live appears to be going dark.
The building at 1568 Second Avenue, the longtime home of the comedy club, is being marketed for lease by Winick Realty Group, according to the brokerage’s website. The venue encompasses 4,366 square feet spread out across a ground floor and a lower level.
The club was co-founded by Bob Wachs and Richie Tienken, and originally opened in 1976 as the Comic Strip. In the ensuing years, it hosted an array of up-and-comers who would later go on to be huge stars, including Eddie Murphy and Jerry Seinfeld. The latter recently filmed a Netflix special, “Jerry Before Seinfeld,” at the venue.
But in recent years, the club has been embroiled in a series of lawsuits between the co-founders.
According to a lawsuit filed in 2019, Tess Wachs, the widow of Bob Wachs, was barred from the premises and had club records kept secret from her. She alleged that Richie Tienken and his wife, Jean, had “run the club into the ground,” the New York Post reported, and asked the court to shutter the venue.
It’s uncertain why the club is up for lease now. Earlier this month, Richie Tienken died at the age of 75, the New York Times reported. Neither Charles Rapuano of Winick, who is marketing the property, nor Comic Strip Live immediately responded to requests for comment.
Eberhart Brothers owns the property.
New York comedy clubs, though a staple for the city, have been struggling amid the pandemic. Last September, the owners of several New York City comedy clubs rallied to persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to let them reopen. And earlier this month, the owner of the club Stand Up NY sued the governor for allowing comparable businesses to operate while comedy clubs remain closed.
Cuomo recently announced that clubs and theaters may reopen April 2 at 33 percent capacity as part of a broader initiative to open up venues across the state.