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At a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams, Carolines on Broadway founder Caroline Hirsch, NYC Go President Fred Dixon and Hard Rock Hotel Managing Director Karin Kopano gathered to announce the details of the festival, which will be held from November 7 to 13, feature over 200 comedians (with headlining acts like Tracy Morgan, Nurse Blake, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, John Mulaney, Ms Pat, JB Smoove, Jenny Slate, Wanda Sykes, Jimmy O. Yang and Bassem Youssef), and be held across venues in all five boroughs, including Midtown’s Madison Square Garden, The Town Hall and Carolines on Broadway. The Hard Rock Hotel will serve as official host hotel for the duration of the festival.
Picking National Tell a Joke Day to announce the launch of the festival, Caroline Hirsch joked that “we in the comedy world look forward to this day as much as Thanksgiving and New Year’s combined. So thanks to our crack PR team who let me know about it — er, reminded me about it.”
Hirsch went on: “If there was a day we need now more than ever, it is a day that embraces comedy — the art of making one laugh. So it is truly fitting that we gather together on National Tell a Joke Day to announce that the New York Comedy Festival is returning with more venues, more comedians and more acts than ever before.”
Hirsch opened her first New York comedy club in 1982, booking legends like Jerry Seinfeld, Rosie O’Donnell, Billy Crystal and Jay Leno before expanding to the South Street Seaport and eventually Times Square, where the club has resided since 1992. NYC Go President Fred Dixon credited her not just with establishing the club as a city entertainment landmark and for launching the festival in 2004, but also for her role in revitalizing Midtown: “She helped shepherd in the new era of Times Square in a remarkable way,” he said.
In honor of her contributions to the city, Mayor Eric Adams was on hand to proclaim August 16 “Caroline Hirsch Day.” The mayor, at first forgetting the date and declaring today “April 16”, turned the moment into his own comedy act: “That was a joke!” he added of the misstep.
The Mayor emphasized his priority of bringing entertainment — and tourism — back to Times Square. “There has been nothing funny about the last two and a half years,” said Adams. “But there’s scientific evidence that connects laughing with our friends and family — and Caroline, you’ve really saved us during this time. This comedy festival that’s coming is so significant in this moment.”
He added: “We have forgotten the power of laughing. We have forgotten the power of sitting around with a group of our loved ones and seeing how much we are thankful for. When you laugh, when you walk out of one of these shows you think, ‘You know what, it’s not that bad after all.’”
He concluded: “Comedy brings us together — it allows us to look to the right of each other and to the left of each other and watch each other smile and laugh. That’s what’s great about New York — this diverse group of people from all over the globe are coming together to celebrate the beauty of the diversity and the specialness of our city. If New York laughs, it cascades throughout the whole country, and the country laughs — and then, we will turn around the devastating impact of the sadness that accompanied us during COVID. So I’m looking forward to laughing a lot.”