Mon-Thu, 10am-midnight; Fri, 10am-2am; Sat, noon-2am; Sun, noon-midnight
N, Q, R at 49th St.; C, E at 50th St.; 1 at 50th St.; B, D, E at Seventh Ave.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Before cable and the web, before blogs and podcasting, back in club-mad, early '80s, Caroline Hirsch gambled on a new cabaret in Chelsea. Comedians quickly eclipsed torch singers, starting with the club's first funny guest: Jay Leno—yes, that Jay Leno—and continuing with a roster of then-rising stars. (Think Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, and Sandra Bernhard.) Regulars like Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Rubens drew steady fans, including the pajama-clad Andy Warhol. When Rouse's renovations beckoned, the club staked out prime turf in Times Square, where Carolines landed in 1992, long before Rudy's smut-chasing efforts took root. Today, the subterranean, 300-seat room evokes diminutive Vegas grandeur, with comfortable, well-upholstered banquettes and tables packed tightly but the audiences—well-scrubbed, and often from out-of-town—hardly seem to notice. The jokes keep coming: acerbic, scatological, and sharp. The room’s too shabby to be a comic Olympus, but keeping onstage company with the likes of Mario Cantone, Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, Janeane Garofalo, and Pauly Shore offers a certain heady buzz. (That, and the stiff, free-flowing drinks.)Take Home
For souvenir hounds, the Carolines specialty cocktail comes in a commemorative glass.
Picnics with a view, roller-skating nostalgia, and a party for gay headbangers.