Entrepreneur and philanthropist Caroline Hirsch on coping with comedy, giving back and more…
Caroline Hirsch’s career in comedy began in 1982 when she opened a small cabaret club in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The first comedian she ever booked was Jay Leno, soon followed Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres and more, to perform at her club. Nearly 30 years after it first opened, and after a lot of hard work, Hirsch says Carolines on Broadway has grown into the one of the country’s top comedy venues and leading destinations for live entertainment for New Yorkers and countless visitors from across the country and the world.
On her humble beginnings: “I rode the wave of the first comedians that were starting at the time. It was the era of David Letterman going on at 12:30 at night,” she said.
Caroline also created and now operates the annual New York Comedy Festival, as well as the philanthropic arm called Stand Up for Heroes, a unique occasion that brings together leaders from business, entertainment and philanthropy for an evening of laughter, tributes and gratitude dedicated to our nation’s injured service members, with proceeds from the evening going to the Bob Woodruff Foundation. The event has raised close to $12 million dollars over the past few years.
“The New York Comedy Festival started about eight years ago but the component, the charity component that we’ve been doing for five years is Stand Up For Heroes,” Hirsch told genConnect. “That’s an event we produced with Bob and Lee Woodruff for the Woodruff Foundation. All of the money goes to help veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“Get more [comedy],” she said. “That is the only way we can cope. Laughter is a great coping mechanism. It makes you feel good and releases any anxiety that you have and you should really come out to laugh. I have the privilege of being able to laugh all day. If we’re not negotiating contracts here we are probably laughing. I have a great job.”
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