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Jerry Seinfeld reopens Gotham Comedy Club after NYC venues expand to 33% capacity

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld performed a stand-up set at the reopening of the Gotham Comedy Club on Friday after New York City expanded its capacity to 33% capacity for venues.

The reopening of the club also came months after Seinfeld penned an op-ed slamming people who say the city is dead forever.

A number of other theaters, music venues and comedy clubs have started to reopen as the city starts to awaken after a year of closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

‘It felt like getting electrocuted in a good way – in a good way,’ Seinfeld told reporters after the show, according to the New York Post.

Jerry Seinfeld speaks to journalists after performing at Gotham Comedy Club on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of coronavirus disease

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld performed a stand-up set at the reopening of the Gotham Comedy Club on Friday after New York City expanded its capacity to 33% capacity for venues

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld performed a stand-up set at the reopening of the Gotham Comedy Club on Friday after New York City expanded its capacity to 33% capacity for venues

Sam Morril also performed at Gotham Comedy Club on its first night back open after loosened restrictions on Friday

Sam Morril also performed at Gotham Comedy Club on its first night back open after loosened restrictions on Friday

People watch a performance at Comedy Club on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease

People watch a performance at Comedy Club on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease

Seinfeld, who came out of the club wearing his signature blue blazer and New York Mets hat, wore a mask as he told reporters ‘the audience was great.’

‘I was actually feeling like: can I still do this? You wonder if you remember. It’s like not playing tennis for a year,’ he said.

‘And so, as soon as I get up, the audience exploded and I just felt so at home.’ 

He added: ‘And I love this club – I love performing in New York. I didn’t want to get emotional but I’m really excited to be helping to bring it back.’

Seinfeld, 66, then walked to his Mercedes G Wagon on West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

A reporter for the New York Post asked the comedian if he told any ‘what’s the deal with’ jokes, a reference to his appearance hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1992 during which he used the phrase in a sketch called Stand-Up and Win.

‘No, I wish I had some,’ Seinfeld laughed, according to the outlet.

Seinfeld also told reporters that ‘comedy is more than just interesting and amusing.’

‘It like changes your mood. It’s one of the few things that really can change how you feel and give you a little bit of real relief,’ he said. 

‘In the moment of a laugh you forget every problem you’ve ever had.’

Seinfeld arrived at the club wearing his signature blue blazer and New York Mets hat after performing on Friday

Seinfeld arrived at the club wearing his signature blue blazer and New York Mets hat after performing on Friday

He wore a mask as he told reporters 'the audience was great' when he came out and walked to his Mercedes G Wagon on West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Pictured: Seinfeld arrives at Gotham Comedy Club

He wore a mask as he told reporters ‘the audience was great’ when he came out and walked to his Mercedes G Wagon on West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Pictured: Seinfeld arrives at Gotham Comedy Club

Newlyweds leaving the venue told the New York Post that they particularly enjoyed his jokes about marriage

Newlyweds leaving the venue told the New York Post that they particularly enjoyed his jokes about marriage

The Gotham Comedy Club's owner, Christopher Mazzilli, said that being allowed to open at 33% capacity was a 'huge win' for venues

The Gotham Comedy Club’s owner, Christopher Mazzilli, said that being allowed to open at 33% capacity was a ‘huge win’ for venues

Newlyweds leaving the venue told the New York Post that they particularly enjoyed his jokes about marriage.

‘It felt like life was back to normal. Comedy is back,’ said a woman named Leyla.

The club’s owner, Christopher Mazzilli, told WLNY that being allowed to open at 33% capacity was a ‘huge win’ for venues.

‘A few months ago I thought it would be like a another six or seven months. So, the fact that we’re open now, [I’m] really, really excited about it, as is my staff,’ Mazzilli said.

According to WLNY, tables inside were spaced six feet apart with plastic sheets installed to separate the audience from performers.

In August, Seinfeld told the people who are ‘wailing and whimpering’ that New York City is dead to get a grip because it will ‘sure as hell’ bounce back as the city continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating crime and homelessness.

In an op-ed in The New York Times, Seinfeld, who has lived in NYC for 44 years, slammed those who have been fleeing the city in droves ever since the pandemic broke out last March.

The comedian’s comments were in direct response to a viral blog post written earlier this month by NYC comedy club owner and hedge-fund entrepreneur James Altucher.

Altucher – who Seinfeld labeled a ‘putz’ – declared that the city was dead and would never recover again as he said he fled with his family to Miami following the week of looting and riots that plagued the NYC in June.

In response to Altucher’s claim that New York would never bounce back, Seinfeld insisted that it would because of ‘tough New Yorkers’ who stayed behind to rebuild it.

Seinfeld, who has an estimated net worth of $950million, lives in an apartment overlooking Central Park on the Upper West Side and also has a sprawling waterfront mansion in the Hamptons which he purchased for $32 million from Billy Joel back in 2000.

Singling Altucher out for moving to Miami, Seinfeld wrote: ‘You found a place in Florida? Fine. We know the sharp focus and restless, resilient creative spirit that Florida is all about. You think Rome is going away too? London? Tokyo? The East Village? 

‘They’re not. They change. They mutate. They re-form. Because greatness is rare. And the true greatness that is New York City is beyond rare. It’s unknown. Unknown anyplace outside of New York City.

‘You say New York will not bounce back this time. You will not bounce back. In your enervated, pastel-filled new life in Florida. I hope you have a long, healthy run down there. I can’t think of a more fitting retribution for your fine article.

‘This stupid virus will give up eventually. The same way you have. We’re going to keep going with New York City if that’s all right with you.

‘And it will sure as hell be back. Because of all the real, tough New Yorkers who, unlike you, loved it and understood it, stayed and rebuilt it.’

On Friday, other comedians and stand-up comics said that the industry has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Comedian Chuck Nice told WNYW that his last indoor performance was on March 11, 2020 until he performed a show last weekend in Atlantic City.  

‘It’s been awful. The baseline would be a bustling, vibrant New York City that you just see alive everywhere and then the last year would be Nagasaki,’ Nice said.

A comedian performs at Comedy Cellar on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York on Friday

A comedian performs at Comedy Cellar on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York on Friday

A comedian performs at Comedy Cellar on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease

A comedian performs at Comedy Cellar on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease

A comedian performs at Comedy Cellar on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease

A comedian performs at Comedy Cellar on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease

People wait in line to attend shows at Comedy Cellar on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease

People wait in line to attend shows at Comedy Cellar on its first night back open after loosened restrictions during the continued outbreak of the coronavirus disease

Nice told the outlet that performing in front of smaller audiences with empty seats amid capacity restrictions can be jarring for comics.

‘A room where 20% is missing, 10% is missing — as a comedian you’re so neurotic that’s all you see,’ Nice said.

Nice performed on Friday at the Upper East Side’s Comic Strip Live and admitted to the outlet that he was nervous before the show.

‘When you’re out of practice, you kind of look that way,’ Nice said.

At Stand Up NY, another comedy venue in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan, staff told WLNY that they were excited to open. 

‘It has been 13 months since we’ve actually opened up our doors, so it became a matter of are we compliant with CDC guidelines, with the opening procedures, as well as what hasn’t been used in a long time,’ said Jon Borromeo, the venue’s chief of staff. ‘We had some squeaky faucets.’

A guest walks into The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday in New York City

A guest walks into The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday in New York City

A guest walks into The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday and places their phone into a bag

A guest walks into The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday and places their phone into a bag

An employee wearing a mask hangs up a sign with the lineup at The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday

An employee wearing a mask hangs up a sign with the lineup at The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday

People arrive at The Shed, a center for performing and visual arts at Hudson Yards on Friday in New York City

People arrive at The Shed, a center for performing and visual arts at Hudson Yards on Friday in New York City

The Comedy Cellar had a dozen shows scheduled for its four stages on Friday night, The New York Times reported. New York Comedy Club also reopened this weekend.

Noam Dworman, the owner of the Comedy Cellar, told the Times on Thursday that shows at the club were already sold out for the weekend.

‘We had more comedians than we can use vying for spots. They’re really eager to perform,’ he said.

The Times noted that comedy venues are requiring masks, social distancing and temperature checks.

Comedy clubs were not the only venues excited by the expanded capacity.

Blue Note Jazz Club owner Steven Bensusan told WNYW that he had to furlough ‘almost all’ of his staff but told the outlet he did not plan to open his doors soon.

‘We can’t make it work financially at 33%,’ Bensusan told the outlet.

He said that the capacity only allowing for 33% of the audience makes it difficult to pay a full kitchen staff, a wait staff, managers, and production engineers as well as the performers.

‘In order to present the artists that we want to present, they have to get paid a certain amount,’ he said.

The Shed, a large venue in Hudson Yards, told The New York Times last month that it would require proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test in order to open with larger audiences

The Shed, a large venue in Hudson Yards, told The New York Times last month that it would require proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test in order to open with larger audiences

People enter City Winery on Friday in New York City, a venue that combines a fully functioning winery with concerts, food & wine seminars, and private events

People enter City Winery on Friday in New York City, a venue that combines a fully functioning winery with concerts, food & wine seminars, and private events 

People arrive at The Shed, a center for performing and visual arts at Hudson Yards on Friday in New York City)

People arrive at The Shed, a center for performing and visual arts at Hudson Yards on Friday in New York City)

People stand in line at The Shed, a center for performing and visual arts at Hudson Yards on Friday in New York City

People stand in line at The Shed, a center for performing and visual arts at Hudson Yards on Friday in New York City

Audience members line-up outside the Comedy Cellar on Friday n New York City after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that entertainment and performing arts venues may reopen at 33% capacity as of today

Audience members line-up outside the Comedy Cellar on Friday n New York City after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that entertainment and performing arts venues may reopen at 33% capacity as of today

Comedian Sean Donnelly poses outside the Comedy Cellar on Friday in New York City after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that entertainment and performing arts venues may reopen

Comedian Sean Donnelly poses outside the Comedy Cellar on Friday in New York City after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that entertainment and performing arts venues may reopen

A guest checks in at The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday in New York City

A guest checks in at The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday in New York City

People wearing masks are seen waiting in line at The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday

People wearing masks are seen waiting in line at The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday

Broadway theaters are seen in New York City on Friday, many of which remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic

Broadway theaters are seen in New York City on Friday, many of which remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic

An employee holds the door open as guests walk into The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday

An employee holds the door open as guests walk into The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday

An employee takes a guest's temperature while others walk into The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday

An employee takes a guest’s temperature while others walk into The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village as arts venues reopen on Friday

Ron Sturm, the owner of the Iridium jazz club near Times Square, also told the Times that 33 percent capacity is not sustainable and his club would not reopen until 50% capacity is allowed.

‘I figure, let other people be pioneers. For us, it’s more of a wait-and-see posture,’ Sturm told the Times. 

Michael Swier, who owns the popular concert venues Mercury Lounge and Bowery Ballroom, told the outlet that they will not open until social distancing requirements are either eliminated or greatly reduced.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had announced in early March that venues would be able to open in April – which he reiterated in a press release on Friday morning.

The state is allowing venues to open at 33% capacity up to 100 people indoors or up to 200 people outdoors. 

However, if all attendees present proof of completed vaccination or recent negative test result prior to entry, capacity they can host up to 150 people indoors or up to 500 people outdoors.

The Shed, a large venue in Hudson Yards, told The New York Times last month that it would require proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test in order to open with larger audiences. 

More openings are expected next week, including the Off Broadway show The Office! A Musical Parody and modern dance on ice presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music. 

‘New York’s beloved arts and entertainment venues have been hard hit by the public health guidance we’ve implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, and after a long and difficult period,’ Governor Cuomo said in the press release on Friday.

‘I am glad to see them reopen their doors to New Yorkers.’

However, some politicians including Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate, have appeared more cautious about loosening restrictions and have asked Cuomo to slow down reopenings, the Times reported. 


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