Updated: Sep 19
While most comedy clubs struggled in the past couple of years, Stand Up NY found its voice. And the owner, Dani Zoldan, found a new sense of fulfillment.
"People need to laugh,” Zoldan said. “I feel like we're making an impact."
Now, the Upper West Side club is producing shows beyond the venue. One of those events was "The Chosen Comedy Festival" with an almost all-Jewish lineup in mid-August — and it’s why Zoldan is Jew of the Week.
We talked more about his background, how he’s built the Stand Up NY Business, and what’s next for the festival.
Zoldan bought Stand Up NY at 27
Zoldan, who grew up in Long Island and New York City, spent his high school years going to comedy clubs, but never tried it himself.
He focused on business. At 24, he started his own telecommunications company. At 27, looking for his next venture, he replied to an ad that a comedy club in the Upper West Side was for sale.
He became a co-owner of Stand Up NY at the end of 2008. At first, he says, “I wasn't thinking past this club, I was just thinking, 'Alright, we've got this club, let's renovate, let's book comics, let's fill the seats.'"
A few years later he converted the black box theater upstairs into a podcast network and launched successful comics' podcasts through Stand Up NY Labs. He also started Skitish Media, an agency that pairs comics with brands to create content. Then, the club started selling online courses to teach people to do standup.
COVID was a catalyst for even more comedy innovation
Starting in March 2020, Stand Up NY, along with many other venues in NYC, closed for over a year. Zoldan said he put up a fight against the city — the day after he sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo, clubs were allowed to reopen.
But, it was also a turning point for Stand Up NY. He said the club evolved much faster during COVID and after than the previous years.