Things just got funny in Rye.
The Rye Comedy Club has opened its doors, offering a once-a-month night of standup at Rye Grill & Bar. I grabbed a friend for the sold-out show recently, and off we went to the upstairs back room at this popular local establishment.
The Club is the creation of co-founders-comedians-spouses Michelle Slonim and Ben Rosenfeld. The first show was March 2023, with shows monthly since. Slonim is a comedian who performs at clubs throughout New York City and produces comedy shows like these. She also produces shows in people’s living rooms for parties, called LivingRoomLaughs.com. Rosenfeld is a comedian whose main topics include his experiences as a Russian-Jewish immigrant living in the United States, parenting a young bilingual child in Brooklyn, and geopolitics.
Slonim said the whole thing started because she was hungry.
“One day, we were starving on our way back to NYC after visiting relatives in Stamford, and we decided to get a bite to eat at the Rye Grill & Bar. We discovered their cute private room and said, ‘Bingo! This would make for a great comedy room!’ So, we talked to their professional staff and got a date on the books.”
Each month, Slonim and Rosenfeld curate the show with comedians they know from their network in New York City and beyond. In January, Turner Sparks, Alexander Payne, and John Campanelli joined them in the lineup. The room was transformed into a proper comedy club, with tables for four throughout and friends seated with strangers, enjoying food and drinks. A stage and microphone completed the setup. As soon as we were settled in our seats, the lights dropped and the show began.
It was everything I love about live comedy — spontaneous, a shared experience, and a lot of gut-splitting laughter. The five comedians took turns at the mic, and whether they were from nearby New York City or as far away as Los Angeles, they found ways to weave our local audience — and our town — into their humor. Who knew Rye could be the butt of so many jokes? One comedian joked that his booking agent called and said, “You know the famous Capitol Theater in Port Chester? How would you like to perform two miles away, in the secret upstairs of Rye Grill & Bar, across from the train station?”
We laughed at ourselves and at the jokes throughout the evening, culminating with closer John Campanelli. His ability to work the crowd and piece together stories made for a hilarious set. He bypassed his prepared material, relying instead on a combination of wit, stage presence, and audience interaction. In trying to identify the stereotypical Rye resident, Campanelli asked a few audience members what they do for a living. Surprised by the first few respondents, including a railroad engineer and a professional musician, he finally got the answer he was looking for. “I’m an IT consultant,” and audience members responded. “That’s more like it!” Campanelli exclaimed. Many of the jokes at the event are best left off the record.
For anyone looking for a fun and unique plan for Valentine’s Day, the next Rye Comedy Club event is coming up on February 14th! Get your tickets and get ready for some serious laughter.
Front Row: Michelle Slonim and Alexander Payne
Back Row: Ben Rosenfeld and John Campanelli