At the height of the brick-wall comedy-club boom in the mid-eighties, a Greenwich Village bar called the Paper Moon started a weekly comedy night. The stand-up later moved upstairs, and the old bar, which was renamed the Baggot Inn in 1996, became a comedians’ clubhouse. On May 10, both close. Regulars look back:
It used to be this lesbian bar called Bonnie & Clyde’s. It became Paper Moon, and Eddie Brill, who now books comics for Letterman, started doing a comedy night. I remember there was this snotty NYU kid, 17 years old, who came in one night, and they put him on because he had 30 other kids with him and they needed an audience. He sang some funny songs. That was Adam Sandler’s first time onstage.
July 27, 1984—I’ll never forget the date—I started a comedy night. I would import in all these great acts to do hour-long sets—acts like Dennis Miller, Bobcat Goldthwait, Susie Essman, and Jake Johanssen. A guy from the Post came to review us, and Denis Leary goes onstage, not knowing the guy is reviewing, and proceeds to trash him. Then the spotlight breaks and falls, so it is shining right on the reviewer, and Leary just keeps trashing the guy.
Judah Friedlander, 30 Rock
I would play Ms. Pac-Man, and while the other comics hit on the waitresses, I’d talk soccer with the Irish bartenders. The live music was just amazing. I’d perform upstairs, then run down and check out a set of live music, then run back upstairs and do another set. All night. I hope they don’t open a CVS where the Baggot used to be.
Matt Frost, agent
There would be these big comedy showcases upstairs: Dave Chappelle, Dane Cook, Jay Mohr, Jeff Ross. They would all just destroy, and there’d be all these guys in suits in the back taking notes. Then everyone would go downstairs, and Barry Katz, who was managing the acts and running the club at that time, would start negotiating some deal with a network or a production company. A lot of handshakes went down at that bar.
Ben Bailey, Cash Cab
I remember confronting Jay Mohr there after he stole my handicapped-parking joke. He’d seen me do it a couple times, then one night, I saw him upstairs doing my exact joke. I caught him in the stairwell, and I accused him. He denied it, but he knew that I knew. He quietly reached into his jacket and handed me 400 bucks cash. He told me not to tell anybody. I told him I’d tell everyone, and I did.
Robert Kelly, Tourgasm With Dane Cook
What was nice about it was that you could continue the feeling of being onstage. You’d finish a set, get that seat by the window—which was prime real estate—and then listen to some awful band. The Baggot gave us somewhere to go where there were other comics; you’d get a little respect even though you were a nobody.