The Gaslight Cafe featured in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was a true Greenwich Village club that hosted creative minds like Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan.
The Gaslight Café is where Midge Maisel makes her comedic debut in the series premiere The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) returns to The Gaslight to hone her skills at various points in her career. The Gaslight was actually a real meeting place in Lower Manhattan, New York. This familiar setting was frequented by poets, musicians, comedians and famous members of the Beat Generation until it closed in 1971.
Wonderful Mrs. Maisel’s The first season is set in 1958, which was also the Gaslight’s first year of operation. Midge’s world as a devoted housewife, mother, and unofficial manager to her soon-to-be comedian husband, Joel (Michael Zegen) implodes after Joel announces he’s leaving Midge for his naïve secretary. Midge drunkenly kicks off her stand-up career on stage at The Gaslight, riffing on her husband’s indiscretions with wit and rage. The timeline of Mrs. Maisel as a comic unfolds as she tackles unceremonious dive bar gigs, a wayward telethon appearance, a tour with international crooner Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), and the spinoffs. of losing her spot on Shy Baldwin’s world tour. Midge finally takes control of her role as master of ceremonies at a strip club.
The shallow, damp basement where The Gaslight was located began as a literary speakeasy in the 1920s and 1930s. It grew into one of Greenwich Village’s many famous folk clubs. The Gaslight represented a cultural revolution in the late 1950s that mirrored the transition of Midge’s own evolution from housewife and mother to career comedian with a rap sheet (Mrs. Maisel is arrested multiple times in Seasons 1 and 4).
The series honors The Gaslight by retaining historic elements of its non-alcoholic menu at artist compensation. Real Gaslight owner John Mitchell stuck to a dry atmosphere because it meant he could keep his establishment open until the wee hours of the morning. Midge clarifies for her mother in Season 4, Episode 5 “How to Quietly Chew and Influence People”, that The Gaslight is a “basket house” and she can’t pay her bills if she doesn’t take more gigs. Although The Gaslight sometimes charged a cover charge to be shared with its performers, Midge would perform at the cafe when performers passed baskets or hats around the audience for tips. The meager salary prompted her to seek performances elsewhere. While longer nights have created more opportunities for The Gaslight performers, the fiscal reality coupled with Midge’s career aspirations pushes her and Mrs. Maisel’s manager Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) to explore gigs. chargeable outside their home playgrounds.
The scope of the world of women in the 1950s widened by the end of the decade. Women’s rights advanced alongside the resounding voices of the Beat Generation. The Gaslight was one of many cafes on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village where beat poets like Diane di Prima, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac read their non-traditional works dealing with sex, politics, drugs and spirituality to the public. The cafe would later add folk music to its lineup, a trend ironically addressed by Suzie in Season 4, Episode 3 “It’s All Bellmore”. In Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 3Midge comes into her own as a single woman and performer who isn’t shy about staying true to her values, such as when she refuses to perform on a live radio show endorsing paleoconservative politician, Phyllis Schlafly in the season 3, episode 7 “Marvelous Radio.”
The rising artistic tide at The Gaslight coincides with the evolution of Mrs. Maisel herself. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt and countless other artists developed their signature sounds at the cafe where artists like Woody Allen were also booked to break the flow of poetry and music. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino said Midge was inspired by Joan Rivers, another Greenwich Village comedian who fearlessly cut her teeth at The Gaslight as a strong woman. Midge ventures into her own renaissance at a time when the Beat Generation is giving way to new interpretations of thought, providing permanent cultural change delivered first-hand by The wonderful Mrs. Maisel.
NEXT: Did Lenny Bruce Play (And Succeed At) Carnegie Hall? Ms. Maisel Fact Check
How I Met Your Father Season 2’s Perfect HIMYM Cameo Is Better Than Barney
About the Author