Career The Business of Being Funny with Comedy Icon Caroline Hirsch

by the editorial team at Citi | December 04, 2019

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Caroline Hirsch opened Carolines on Broadway in 1982. It was one in a lifetime of gutsy moves.

Over three decades, the onetime cabaret-turned-comedy-club — located a stone’s throw from Times Square — has become a center of gravity in New York City’s stand-up circuit. Hirsch bucked convention and gave upstart performers extended sets, and many of today’s greatest comedians would begin their careers by performing on her famous stage.

In 2004, Hirsch deepened her imprint on the industry by co-founding the New York Comedy Festival (NYCF), an annual event that celebrates all the diverse forms of comedy, from podcast and radio to stand-up and improv.

A constant champion of women’s voices, Hirsch teamed with Citi — a major sponsor of NYCF — and the Female Quotient, a foundation dedicated to advancing gender equality in the workforce, to expand NYCF this year. In a two-day special event at Bloomingdales, diverse female voices from comedy and entertainment came together to talk about why achieving gender equality is so important. Comedians including Judy Gold, Cat Cohen and Kerry Coddett spoke candidly on panels alongside media executives, creators and industry change makers on topics ranging from the importance of humor in our changing world and how digital content has transformed the comedy business.

Ahead of the panels, Hirsch and Shelley Zalis, founder of the Female Quotient, sat down for an exclusive conversation for Life and Money by Citi. In the video above, the two leaders cover Hirsch’s inspiring rise to the top of a male-dominated industry, the importance of listening to your gut and comedy’s increasingly female future.