David Kimowitz, a beloved comedy manager and co-owner of The Stand comedy club and restaurant, died in his New Jersey home early Saturday. Kimowitz was 40.
The au pair for his two children, 26-year-old Karen L. Bermudez-Rodriguez, also died Saturday morning, found outside the Kimowitz home. Police announced on Sunday that they had arrested the au pair’s boyfriend, Joseph D. Porter, 27, of Elizabeth, N.J., charging him with two counts of murder, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal restraint. Porter remains behind bars at the Essex County Correctional Facility. Kimowitz’s wife and children were not at home during the crime.
In addition to running a comedy club and managing comedians, Kimowitz also helped booked stand-ups on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon from 2014-2015.
The current Fallon booker, Michael Cox, wrote: “Our comedy family lost a special one yesterday. David Kimowitz was someone who would want to know how my babies and family were doing first, business second and was always there for advice and offered his support. Just last week we were sitting, shouting over incredibly loud music at the Comedy Central party in Montreal. Talking about our kids and he was saying what I could expect after they turned one, which was happening the next day. … you will be dearly missed, Dave.”
Kimowitz’s TV and film credits include executive producing Big Jay Oakerson’s 2016 hour on Comedy Central (Live at Webster Hall), Oakerson’s Seeso series, What’s Your F@#King Deal?! and his Netflix half-hour with The Degenerates in 2018. Kimowitz also received co-EP credit on Super Troopers 2, and helped EP Laurie Kilmartin’s special, 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad.
Kimowitz’s initial entry into live comedy came via his childhood friend, Andrew Goldstein. On Goldstein’s podcast with Matt Goldich, Sorry I’ve Been So Busy, Kimowitz recalled serving as Goldstein’s “bringer” for bringer shows in the early 2000s. After pursuing a dual-degree program of study between Columbia University and Jewish Theological Seminary, Kimowitz graduated in 2002 and began working in commercial real estate sales, which he described as “crazy guys making big deals…(mostly) Italians and Jews from Long Island.” Kimowitz also worked with Peter Rosenberg and his brother helping manage the careers of some aspiring hip-hop artists.
But Kimowitz found his calling in comedy after watching the other comedians at venues such as Gotham Comedy Club and The Comedy Cellar, and finding a mutual love for comedy from two of his real estate partners, brothers Cris and Paul Italia.
As Kimowitz explained: “We produced a show that we shot for A&E, a pilot (Misery Loves Comedy) about comics in New York, it was Robert Kelly and Patrice Oneal, Colin Quinn, Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane. About how their lives are filled with insanity and that’s what makes them funny. That was our concept. And at the time it was considered too dark. That was my in into the comedy world and these comedians that have basically been the prototype of comics I’ve tried to work with: Old-school, very honest, club comics.”
They began producing live shows with a fourth partner, Patrick Milligan, who’d already established the “Cringe Humor” website and brand.
He became a comedy manager with his first client, Dante Nero, who at the time was co-hosting with Patrice Oneal on XM radio’s “Black Phillip Show.” CH Entertainment got Nero on Comedy Central (Russell Simmons Presents Stand-Up at The El Rey) and eventually five more clients before Kimowitz could forget about selling real estate.
The four partners opened The Stand in Gramercy in 2012. It closed in June 2018, reopening last month in a larger venue just off of Union Square. As comedy club owners, they’ve embraced voices outside of the “Cringe Humor” aesthetic, although Kimowitz said in 2016 that he always enjoyed a wider variety of comedy: “I grew up watching The State. I grew up watching Mr. Show. So I liked alternative types of comedy already.”
Kimowitz worked with not only Oakerson and Kilmartin, but also stand-ups such as Danny Lobell, Subhah Agarwal, Vladimir Caamaño, Pete Lee, Sarah Tollemache, Derek Gaines, Graham Kay, Monroe Martin, Nore Davis and Ian Lara. Lara competed on this summer’s NBC series, Bring The Funny.
He sponsored Kay’s “green card” application, and helped Oakerson, Martin, Davis and more get dental work done thanks to Kimowitz’s father and brother.
“You get very personal, because you care about the clients and what they do. I definitely care about comedy. That’s why I do this. I started because I really love comedy, and then I wanted to help comedians with their careers. And then you start to build relationships with the comedians that you work with, and try to help them. So it becomes — of course, it’s business, but it’s extremely personal. It’s building trust, and then going through this experience of trying to create somebody’s career. And not just a career, you’re working on projects, you’re coming up with concepts together. So you build this personal relationship.”
Oakerson wrote to friends on Sunday:
“For any of you who never had the pleasure of meeting Dave, I would love to tell you that he was the most fun loving, positive, and caring people I’ve ever met. 8 years ago we began working together and with his guidance and help, we achieved so much together. Dave and his partners Cris Italia, Paolo Italia & Patrick Milligan started The Stand Comedy Club and hired Christine Evans to be the manager of the club. That club and the people affiliated became such a home and family for me in NYC. I spoke with him more than anyone about my life, my fears, my self doubts and Dave always was there to support and be a positive influence in what can be a very ugly business. Dave put together the audio demo for The Bonfire which was the catalyst for Dan Soder and I to be able to do what we love. He helped me navigate and produce 2 specials, 3 albums and our baby “what’s your f@$!ing deal”. He invited me into his personal life, and was so much more than a manager. He was family… his brother and father have been my dentists for the last 7 years, helping me out so much when I was too broke to afford dental care. He was so important to me and my family every step of the way, and feel truly unstable in this world without him. On top of all the amazing things I can say about his friendship and guidance, far more impressively, he was a devoted husband and doting, loving father that we all would be so lucky to have. He valued his family and friendships more than anything, and the love that they felt for him shows that. I had to break this news to several people and it was gut wrenching. The only smile I can muster up right now is remembering that just a week ago we spent 4 days in Montreal together at a comedy festival, attached at the hip, planning, laughing and just really enjoying time together. I’ll remember that week forever and be happy that I got to just appreciate being around him one last time. He is irreplaceable and a giant void has been left in my heart, the world of comedy, and the world in general. Not enough people like him in the world… pure goodness! I will do my best to honor him in everything I do moving forward. Please keep his amazing wife, 2 baby daughters and his beautiful family in your thoughts and prayers during this time. My apologies for the long post, and any repeated words or typos, but I finally felt it necessary to let the world know that we really lost one of the great guys this weekend. I love you Dave! I’m glad I got to tell you and show you that a lot.”
Rest in Peace, David.