Another New York City institution has closed after the city shuttered comedy clubs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Rebecca Trent, the owner of The Creek & The Cave in Long Island City, revealed on Thursday that the venue would not reopen after 14 years in business. Trent announced the closure in a Facebook post. “I wanted to wait until the election before I let you all officially know something that I’m sure most of you already know,” she wrote. “The Creek & The Cave is not going to reopen. I simply wasn’t in a strong enough position going into the pandemic to sustain the Creek without going into insurmountable debt. (Most would say I’m already there.)”
The club was known for cultivating a looser, less polished atmosphere than its Manhattan equivalents, allowing stand-ups, improvisors, and sketch comedians to workshop newer shows. It took chances on less established performers, cultivating the early talents of Michael Che, the Lucas Brothers, and Michelle Wolf. It was also a regular performance spot for comics like Colin Quinn, who workshopped his one-man show Unconstitutional there.
The venue received backlash last year for its association with controversial figures, in particular the Legion of Skanks podcast, which taped at the venue until criticism over a scheduled appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos prompted the show to move elsewhere. Trent seemed to acknowledge some of this in her announcement of the club’s closure. “I know my time at the helm of the Creek wasn’t everyone’s favorite. There were times when I was too angry, too outspoken, too passionate, too much. I disappointed people, I know,” she wrote, adding, “I served this community as hard as I could. I took chances on people and offered stage time to everyone as fairly as I could. The Masters, The Proven, The Villains, The Dorks and The Yet to be Brilliant all graced that stage for 14 years. Because when someone has a stage it becomes their sacred duty to say yes to the artists that grace it, to give them time and space and permission to fail so that they can become great.”
The Creek is the second comedy club to close this year, after Dangerfield’s shut its doors last month after 50 years in business. And it comes at a particularly grim time for the New York City comedy scene, with comics relegated to outdoor shows since the city shut down performance venues in March. Club owners came together back in September to lobby Governor Cuomo for permission to reopen under the same regulations as indoor dining. And at least one club owner, Marko Elgart, has since gone rogue, reopening Brooklyn club EastVille in spite of the restrictions. Trent, who has been the Creek’s owner and booker for the past 14 years, spoke to Vulture briefly about the club’s closure. “Comedy is essential and they’re going to have to figure something out before this happens to other clubs,” she wrote in a text message. “When the city loses its culturals it loses its heart.”