2. The Friars Club Started to Stop a Ticket Scam

Room inside the Friars Club
The Milton Berle Room

At the turn of the 20th century, press agents were being taken advantage of by phony reporters. To drum up promotion for Broadway shows, press agents would dole out a number of free tickets to reviewers in exchange for mentions in the newspapers. Many agents soon found that they were being swindled by fake reporters who weren’t associated with any publication, but were taking the free tickets and sometimes selling them for profit.

A group of agents began to hold weekly meetings at Browne’s Chophouse in midtown Manhattan to suss out which reporters were real and which were not. They created a blacklist of impostors and formed a tight bond among themselves. The Press Agents Association was formed. When Browne’s closed, the agents continued to meet in various locations, occasionally accompanied by their playwright, director, actor, comedian, singer, and dancer clients. The group eventually adopted the name Friars, which members felt represented their bond of brotherhood.