Among the things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving week is that comedy, of the standup and other varieties, is in a very different place than it was 25 years ago. And for some of that, we have to thank the influence of UnCabaret, the alternative showcase that celebrated its 25thanniversary at the Theatre at Ace Hotel with a mostly all-star showcase that spent almost as much time looking inward at what it means to have a conscience in comedy as it did eliciting obvious laughs. Andrew “Dice” Clay was invoked as the common enemy when UnCabaret got seriously underway in the early ‘90s, and Louis C.K. as one now, so the question might be… how much has changed? A lot, actually.

Kicking off a three-hour commemoration that featured the likes of Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk, Jill Soloway, Sandra Bernhard and Rebecca Corry, among many others, perennial host Beth Lapides recalled the origin story of the off-and-on weekly showcase. Waiting to go on in the Comedy Store’s Belly Room, Lapides was listening to Clay “doing his usual woman-bashing act… I was hating him for hating women, and the audience was laughing, and I was hating them for thinking it was funny, and then I was hating myself for hating everybody else,” Lapides said. “And I don’t do well with hate. I actually don’t do well with anger, which is unfortunate for a comedian. I do super-well with sadness… Anyway, there at the Comedy Store, I just had this thought: there’s got to be a better way. And that started to run through my brain like a lead singer… I said, you know what, I’m going to make you a show that’s going to be unhomophobic, unxenophobic, unmisogynist — it’ll be the UnCabaret.”