Almost from the moment he started his first job, at age 18, Louis Faranda knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. It was the early 1970s, and the Newark native had crossed the Hudson to take a job as a waiter at the then-new Upper East Side comedy club Catch a Rising Star. There, he discovered a creative hive buzzing with comics who were stretching the boundaries of the traditional stand-up act.
"I remember going into this place and realizing that I was part of something so different and so unique. You saw people that were being funny like funnymen, but they weren't the old Borscht Belt comedians. It was a different style. That was the catalyst for me," he says.
Sheer tenacity and that genuine love for the business enabled Faranda to move up the ranks and eventually become the club's booker. While there, he gave a leg up to such then-unknown talents as Jon Stewart, Ray Romano, Rosie O'Donnell and Adam Sandler. His knack for spotting a great act caught the eye of Caroline Hirsch, owner of Carolines on Broadway, who offered him a job in 1994.
"I came in as the booker and within a year I became the general manager, and I've been running the club ever since," Faranda says.