Don't Tell Mama, for 30 years a fixture at the world famous Restaurant Row in Manhattan's Theatre District, recently announced that Comedy is returning to the venue. The comedy line up, coming November 23rd, will open at 9:30pm with Ross Flores (N. Carolina Comedy Festival), Alex Babbitt (HBO, Netflix), Brian Scott McFadden (The Late Show), and Corinne Fisher (Guys We F****d Podcast). The MC for the evening will be Richie Redding (HOT 97 FM, HBO). Since 1982, Don't Tell Mama has presented artists of all kinds who have gone on to the world stage and won multiple Emmys, Tonys, Grammys, Oscars, and even a Pulitzer Prize! Jim Gaffigan, Aziz Ansari, Joy Behar, Leah Delaria, Seth Rudetsky and Alec Mapa are all celebrated comics who have appeared regularly at Don’t Tell Mama through the years.
The booking for the return of comedy acts is being handled by Alex Simmons, with consultation by Don’t Tell Mama’s Booking Manager Sidney Myer. we had a chance to chat with Alex about the new comedy nights.
LocalTheatreNY: Tell us. How did you get involved in booking comedians and helping run a comedy at Don't Tell Mama?
Alex Simmons: I got involved in booking stand-ups in the year 2015, I was looking for a creative outlet between acting gigs. A friend of mine was bar tending in Williamsburg and was looking to get people in the door. I told him and his manager I'd book comics willing to work for the stage time and I'd try to get as many people into the bar as i could. That first show's lineup was just me and a handful of friends i thought were funny. As the show's popularity grew with the bar's patrons, comics started finding me through social media sending me tapes and asking for a spot on the show. I shopped around my show to a few other bars and restaurants in the city, and within the year I was booking four shows a week in three different hospitality establishments, one in that Williamsburg spot and two in Midtown and the West Village. After running those shows I had an opportunity to join the management team at a New York City comedy club and learn even more about how a professional comedy club operates. Now I'm bringing my experience to Don't Tell Mama.
LocalTheatreNY: Comedy at Don't Tell Mama.. give us a little history in your own words of why it went away, and why it’s back...and what the plan is all about.
Alex Simmons: Don't Tell Mama is obviously a well known Cabaret venue. Tons of high profile performers have performed here. There's been stand-up here before booked by various independent producers over the years, and those shows featured celebrated comics like Aziz Ansari & Jim Gaffigan in the early part in their careers. There are also one-person shows at Don't Tell Mama performed and written by accomplished stand-ups like Kendra Cunningham. This new comedy effort at Don't Tell Mama is front and center alongside their Piano Bar, the Cabaret shows, and their award winning restaurant, rather than simply another show produced by a outside producer. Hopefully we'll be able to carve out our own comedy scene here at Don't Tell Mama.
LocalTheatreNY: There’s quite a few comedy clubs in the city, how will DTM be different? How will it coexist with the other things Don't Tell Mama is known for?
Alex Simmons: While Don't Tell Mama is known as a Cabaret venue, Stand-Up is the other side of the same coin. Where New York City's comedy clubs focus on stand-up, at Don't Tell Mama I have an opportunity to show comedy audiences not only some of the top comedic talent working in the scene today, but also some Cabaret performers that those audiences may not see if they only recently have gone to comedy clubs, after all even Saturday Night Live features a musical guest once a week, so why not us? My goal is to make a Don't Tell Mama flavored comedy experience, rather than a stand-alone weekly comedy show.
LocalTheatreNY: In your opinion, what’s different about comedy these days? Where is comedy going overall?
Alex Simmons: The comedy scene and its community is so large I don't think I can say anything about it's overall development or direction without sounding like a huge douche. But I am very appreciative of how social media and video streaming sites like YouTube have leveled the playing field for younger comics and producers trying to promote themselves and their shows. It's also great to see more women and non-white performers breaking into comedy, I hope to make my lineups here at Don't Tell Mama as varied as possible to reflect the diversity in this great city and it's comedy scene.
For more information and for the lineup on November 30th, you can visit their site at donttellmamanyc.com.
Doors open at 9 PM, $20 cash cover at the door with a 2 beverage minimum. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made online at donttellmamanyc.com or by calling 212-757-0788 after 4 PM.