Don’t say I told you!

The Amateur Comedy Club on East 36th street is a club for members only, they do not advertise and they actively discourage publicity. There are no signs outside, no listing of performances in the press, there are no tickets issued for shows and money does not change hands. Ah, the success of an ( almost ) secret society! If it were not for the immense merriment that glows from this clandestine clique, then I would not be in the know. Not that I am, and not that I’m telling you about it…

The club grew out of an intense boredom with Victorian dramas, when, in 1884, six fellows got together and elected an absent seventh as president. Thus began an actor’s club for members who like to drink, or alternatively, a drinking club for members who like to act. Men only of course, producing and acting each show, with female roles being played by guests of the club. This is a quirky tradition that has survived three thousand nine hundred and thirty four performances, and that’s not all. Female players are ‘announced’ at the beginning of the show, but not the men, unless they are making their debut. At half time, lemonade and coffee are served in the library as is alcohol at the end – unless you have access to the men’s locker room where whiskey and vodka are stashed. Black tie is mandatory at the weekend performances and if you come underdressed, wardrobe will be provided to accommodate those ‘delinquent’ members of the audience. Then there’s the Snarks, the sister group of women actors, who put on their own performances each year and no doubt have their own collection of eccentricities.

Last week I was privileged to be invited on a member’s allocation of seats to see How the Other Half Loves, a gleeful comedy of misadventure from Alan Ayckbourn. The play was delightful, and all the more fabulous just by being in the club itself. The walls in the library where we took club crested coffee were covered in rich memories. Posters from performances long past, photographs of famous actors, books, leather couches and reviews. No-one gets a bad one at The Amateur Comedy Club and perhaps that is why this is the oldest continuously performing theatrical group in the United States. There’s no judgement, it’s just all about having some fun…

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One Response to Don’t say I told you!

  1. Jody O'Halloran says:

    Dear Gabrielle,
    It was lovely meeting you recently at The Frick Museum. Sarah and I had a lovely time exploring and making our way around the Neue Galerie shortly after, even caught a good look at Iris Apfel, which tickled us for the remainder of the day!
    We would love to keep in contact with you if that is at all possible as it looks likely that we are going to pursue our small group tours to the city and we thoroughly enjoyed our little chat with you.

    Jody O’Halloran
    &
    Sarah Shanahan

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