Comedy club is back in the hands of original owner Rick Newman

By Jason Cochran
Updated May 10, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Catch A Rising Star — the New York comedy club that burned brightly two decades ago but slowly fell — will be born again May 9.

It was 1972 when Rick Newman created a base for then-no-name comics such as Robin Williams, Andy Kaufman, and Billy Crystal. ”For a newcomer, it was a gymnasium so you could ‘work out,”’ says Crystal. ”And when it was good it was like Las Vegas, even though you were working for just a meal.” Newman sold it in the ’80s; the new owner nationalized a Catch chain but filed for bankruptcy in 1993, forcing the landmark Manhattan location to close (clubs in Vegas, Philadelphia, and Princeton, N.J., remain). Now Newman, 54, is back as co-owner to work his magic again. On April 24, CBS aired a salute that included nostalgia trips from alums like Williams, Crystal, and Robert Klein. And the New York Catch will reopen as a reconceived ”variety club” featuring music, a restaurant, even monitors so comics can experiment with video. The first headliner? Catch’s big find of 1973: Richard Belzer. ”It’s coming full circle,” Newman says. ”Kind of like coming home.”