Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said that he was sympathetic to the issue. “If there is any time when a laugh is needed, it’s now,” he said. “We’ve been talking to the industry and other stakeholders, and it’s our hope we’ll be able to put together guidance where these performances can resume in a way that also keeps New Yorkers safe.”
Nearly a month has passed since that first telephone meeting, and not much has changed. “Nothing is moving fast enough,” Ms. Trent said. “None of these decisions seem to be based in logic.”
In the meantime, the rules haven’t stopped some enterprising clubs. The New York Comedy Club, for example, has begun hosting B.Y.O.B. pop-ups on private rooftops, where its owners don’t have to worry about the liquor authority revoking the business’s license. But the opportunity often comes at a hefty price: Rental spaces can run anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 for the day, said Emilio Savone, the club’s co-owner, adding that the club still pays monthly rent on its two permanent spaces, although the landlords have reduced rent by about half since the pandemic.
Smaller venues without liquor licenses have it easier, as they are not governed by the state’s liquor authority. They also have lower overhead, which means they have the flexibility to produce smaller events in a shorter amount of time (under current rules, gatherings of 50 people or less are allowed).
Take It Outside Comedy, a venture started by Santiago Angel and Daniel Vezza, has used Instagram to organize three nighttime pop-up shows a week since mid-June. But the pop-ups, the locations of which are sent to attendees in the form of an arrow on a map, have their share of challenges. In late August, performers in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, had to compete with a group of maskless, singing children.
“We’re not going for a speakeasy vibe,” said Mr. Angel. “We’re just trying to do it in a way that’s sustainable.”