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Legendary NYC Comedy Club Sued for Being 'Rat-Infested Dump'

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on September 04, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Comic Strip, a legendary New York City Comedy Club that launched the careers of such famous comedians as Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Adam Sandler, has fallen on hard times. One of the co-owners, Tess Wachs, is suing the other, Richie Tienken. She claims that he has mismanaged the club and misappropriated company funds for his own personal pleasures.

Nothing From Nothing Is Nothing

The Comic Strip was co-founded back in 1975 by Bob Wachs, Tess's now-deceased husband, and Richie Tienken. Once a very successful and lucrative club, it is now on the verge of collapse. According to Tienken, there are too many other comedy clubs in NYC, and the Comic Strip has become irrelevant. He claim revenues are low, and that he and his wife earn nothing. Tienken admits that Tess Wachs is a 50% owner, but half of nothing is nothing, and that is why Tess receives no money from the club.

Dead Rodents and an "A" Health Rating

Tess Wachs claims that the place makes no money due to mismanagement by Tienken, his wife, and the club manager. Wachs contests that the club has earned no revenue because they have let the club waste away, citing tattered carpets, holes in the bathroom floor tiles, and dead rats and mice left rotting for weeks stinking up the club. She also claims that the Tienkens only come to the club to drink free alcohol, and has used the joint corporate account "as their own personal piggybank." In a sincere but ironic retort, Tienken claims this is "nonsense" and that the place can't be that bad, since it earned an "A" rating from the city's Department of Health.

It's Hard to Keep a Silent Partner Silent

At the heart of this matter is that Tienken wants Wachs to remain a silent partner, like her husband was. Lawsuits dating back a few years show the discontent between the two current owners. Tienken claimed Tess Wachs didn't have anything to do with the club for years, and suddenly started micro-managing the operation, "harassing" the staff, and "bothering" the comedians before they took the stage. It could be said that Wachs is equally at fault for the demise of the club. It appears this partnership has run its course and is headed to court, again.

If you feel your business is being mismanaged, or that funds are being misappropriated, contact a local business attorney to discuss if filing a lawsuit would be the right move for you.

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