Last week the New York State Supreme Court ordered Manhattan comedy club Stand Up NY to pay more than $200,000 to American Express National Bank. According to a lawsuit filed by the lender in 2019, AmEx gave Stand Up NY a loan of $250,000 in October 2018 with a one-year term and a fee of 5.5%. By the loan's maturity date in October 2019, the club had missed several scheduled payments, underpaid others, and still owed most of the principal, according to AmEx's filings. On August 4th the court granted AmEx's motion for a default judgment, a ruling made in favor of a plaintiff when the defendant fails to respond. Stand Up NY, which apparently spent the last two years not doing anything about the lawsuit, was ordered to pay $214,486.97 plus costs.
What's that sound? Ah yes: the pieces clicking into place. As Stand Up NY owner Dani Zoldan—whose name appears on loan documents AmEx filed with the court—spent the pandemic producing indoor and outdoor comedy shows in violation of New York's health guidelines, his club owed AmEx more than $200,000. As he used the Paycheck Protection Program to receive multiple forgivable loans through Stand Up NY's one-employee side businesses, his club owed AmEx more than $200,000. As he sought Shuttered Venue Operators Grant awards of $657,587 for Stand Up NY and $153,266 for his comedy club subscription service, his club owed AmEx more than $200,000. As he produced a comedy festival in Boise to show me up for reporting on his finances… huh. That one actually throws a wrench in it. Maybe he wasn't so pressed about the debt after all?
Sometimes the universe gives us answers. Sometimes those answers raise questions. Working backwards from SVOG and PPP data, we find that in 2019 Stand Up NY made about $1.5 million in gross revenue and had a payroll of about $275,500. Maybe the club had some hefty expenses that year: Statements filed with the court show only five $5,000 payments made on the loan, plus five payments Stand Up NY missed entirely. At the same time, PPP loan data indicates, Zoldan made at least $269,152 from his side businesses Podcast Row, Stand Up NY Education, and LaughPass.
Now I'm just a humble country blogger, but I know when numbers are bigger than other numbers. In 2019 Stand Up NY's side businesses appear to have paid Zoldan not only more than the amount Stand Up NY owed AmEx, but almost $20,000 more than Stand Up NY even received from AmEx. Here I will observe that Stand Up NY is a limited liability company, which means (with some exceptions) that creditors cannot pursue its owners' personal assets to satisfy the business's debts.
Hmm. Hmmmmmmm. Hmmm. Hm.
Dani Zoldan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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