A tiny thank you to a cupboard
The rooftop that kept NYC comedy going through a pandemic
Published in May 2021 | Free Standup NYC
Article by: Andrew Bayroff
Hundreds of NYC shows disappeared in early March 2020. Gone. Stage time, bookings, and income vanished with a snap of the finger. While everyone hurriedly bought masks, hoarded toilet paper, and washed their Amazon boxes, comics wondered when comedy would return. When could we perform again? Then, something tiny happened.
I’m not sure Amy Wong and Matt Rosenblum knew what was in store for them when they created and founded The Tiny Cupboard in 2019. Described as a tiny art studio, comedy church, and a large rooftop used as performance spaces, they held the answer for NYC comedy before the pandemic even hit. I first performed there in 2019 in one of the cupboards that held myself, another comic, the producer, and seven audience members. A very intimate show to say the least. The halls reminded me of my art school days. Materials everywhere, people coming and going, creating and performing. I loved the energy but had no idea it would soon be home to dozens of shows.
While clubs waited for permission to open, and bar shows dried up, with its unassuming main door, narrow outside staircase, and spacious rooftop (with social distancing) Amy and Matt unknowingly gave comedy and comics a new home. Shows, open mics, even a comedy special was filmed there while other venues sat dormant. Shows soon popped up in parks, amphitheaters, side streets, backyards, and other rooftops, but The Tiny Cupboard became—and still is—a centerpiece in NYC comedy. Thankfully, clubs are now opened; at reduced capacity, and bar shows are back.
Ask any comic and they will tell you online shows will never replace live comedy. Ever. Hearing the roar of laughter when a joke hits, seeing the faces in the crowd light up at a punchline, crowd work, a real connection to the audience. Seeing the New York skyline as you perform is an unexpected gift. The nighttime air, the stars, getting back to comedy feels good.
So, here’s a tiny thank you to Amy and Matt for giving comedy a home during the pandemic in their Tiny Cupboard.
Mark Anthony Ramirez
"Ask any comic and they will tell you online shows will never replace live comedy."