How the Comedy Cellar went from ‘icky’ basement to overnight sensation

How the Comedy Cellar went from ‘icky’ basement to overnight sensation


In the mid-1990s, the Comedy Cellar was in a slump. One night there was just a single person in the audience — a tourist from the Netherlands who barely spoke English. 

Comedian Gregg Rogell was set to go on, but when he saw how empty the room was, he decided to skip telling jokes on stage altogether. Instead, he sat down with the tourist and had a conversation for 20 minutes. 

That was his set. 

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Today, the Greenwich Village hot spot is one of the most well-known comedy venues in the world, hosting names such as Kevin Hart and Dave Chappelle and turning away 1,000 people on an average Saturday night before the pandemic. Its history is detailed in the book “Don’t Applaud. Either Laugh or Don’t. (At the Comedy Cellar)” (Scribe), out now, by Andrew Hankinson. 

“It was like a long, slow overnight sensation,” the Cellar’s current owner, Noam Dworman, tells The Post. 

Located on a MacDougal Street

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