Comedy icon and founder of Caroline’s on Broadway and the New York Comedy Festival Caroline Hirsch sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “Hollywood at Home,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Hirsch talks about Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld’s comedic style, Larry David, Wanda Sykes, cancel culture and comedy’s edge, Lena Dunham crediting Caroline’s Comedy School for making her career, and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “Hollywood at Home” featuring Caroline Hirsch –
On Jay Leno’s comedic style and how George Carlin influenced it: “I think he was edgier early on when he was younger. But well, it was the start of what we call this observational humor… This was the trend that was starting, which you can kind of go back to when George Carlin started it. You know, George Carlin started with a lot of weird things, like the weatherman, but when George got hooked into the observational humor, and how he connected with audiences, all the young people coming up after him– and they’ll tell you, you know, Jay and Jerry Seinfeld– they kind of followed what Carlin was doing. You know, it was commenting on the normal little things about our life. And how you make that funny. And why it’s funny is because we’re all sitting in the same room, and we’re laughing about the same thing that happened to me. And that’s what makes things funny.”
On cancel culture and whether comedy still has its edge: “So, you know, a lot of the cancel culture happened when people did the wrong thing. But then at a point when they realized they did the wrong thing, they apologized for it, and should be led back into society, again, should be led back into doing what they do. You know, Louis C.K. apologized for what he did. I’ll go back to, Louis was a 30 year old young man. And I don’t believe he had a lot of power at that time. But he was accused of throwing his power around. And I think he went back and did apologize to two young women at that time, who were insulted by him and not treated the right way by him. So if Louis had gone to jail, you know, okay, he would have been in jail for a year. But when he gets out of jail, we’re supposed to accept him back into society. So I think that Louis, you know, paid the penance on what he needed to do. So I think that a lot of people make mistakes and I think we as a woke society, we should let people in that make mistakes and apologize for them. That’s how I feel… I think there’s an edge. I think that’s the beauty of being a, you know, a talented performer… There’s just a way to how you place your joke. So that it’s politically correct. In the situation, but that’s a technique.”
On how Lena Dunham credited Caroline’s Comedy School for giving her a big break: “So that we had the comedy school for many years. Linda Smith ran it and another funny thing that happened to me once, I met Lena Dunham at a luncheon, a Variety luncheon, and I said hello to her and ‘I just love all the work you’ve done.’ She goes, ‘Caroline, I graduated from the Caroline’s Comedy School! That made my career!’ And then she also accepted an award for the Directors Guild for “Girls.” And she gets up on stage and she says, ‘I just have to tell you of how I got into comedy. My mother took me to Caroline’s to see Lisa Lampanelli one New Year’s Eve and I was hooked.’”
On Larry David and the genesis of “Seinfeld”: “He did the seaport when I opened the seaport– I opened that 1987. And about two years later– Jerry had worked there– and about two years or a year later they went out to LA to do “Seinfeld Chronicles,” which was the first “Seinfeld.” And I remember us all watching it at the bar at Caroline’s at the seaport. All of us standing there watching everybody that was on the show, because it was really exciting for Jerry to have this show, and, boy, what they made of that show. Just unbelievable. You know, we used to have nights at Caroline’s on Eighth Avenue also, Larry was a writer on SNL, but nobody ever used any of his sketches. So we used to have a Sunday night and Larry would invite everybody there from the show and they try out different stuff. Pretty exciting stuff way back when.”
On how Jerry Seinfeld hasn’t changed: “Jerry, you know, he was, you know, just the same Jerry. Really, really funny how you go back and Jerry tells a story about how he was really, really, really, really excited when he was headlining at Caroline’s and he was doing New Year’s Eve. So there was a time when you could come to Caroline’s on Eighth Avenue and see Jerry Seinfeld and New Year’s Eve. So I’ve got a lot of great fond memories of working with everybody early on.”
On Wanda Sykes: “Wanda Sykes was also– her name was Wanda Sykes Hall when I met her. And I remember her being married to a young doctor at the time. And Wanda was appearing at the club, kind of, you know, like a newbie, but we knew she was really talented. And Luis Ferrando, who does all the bookings at the club now, put her as an opening act for Chris Rock at the club. And she opened for Chris. Chris adored her, they became best friends. And she went to write on Chris’s show for HBO at that time. And that’s what made me want to scream. Then she moved to LA and then you know, history after that. And then, you know, Larry David and, and Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Wanda, this whole group of them, they all grew up together and they all work together. So when they went out to LA together, they all worked together. They all started on the stand-up stage.”
More about “Hollywood at Home”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “Hollywood at Home” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Iain Armitage (“Young Sheldon”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Aaron Cooley (“The First Lady”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Colman Domingo (“Euphoria”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Frances Fisher (“Titanic,” “Unforgiven”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), LaMonica Garrett (“1883,” “Sons of Anarchy”) Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Nathan Kress (“iCarly”), Jaren Lewison (“Never Have I Ever”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Ross Patterson (“Range 15”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Paul Scheer (“The League,” “Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”), Tramell Tillman (“Severance”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.