Jon Benjamin / Michael Che / Jon Glaser @ The Bell House 6/13/2014
On Friday (6/13), The Bell House played host to the release party show for A Night at Whiplash, a live movie documenting a single night of NYC's most legendary weekly comedy show Whiplash, which takes place Monday nights at the UCB Theater in Chelsea.
It wouldn't be a Klaus Kinski outing if mother nature didn't deliver a horrendous onslaught of earth shatteringly shitty weather, and boy did she deliver the night of Friday the 13th. Black-green skies, crazy bolts of lightning, long, rolling peals of thunder... the works. Luckily I managed to get to the venue during breaks in the storm, but the rain was so horrendous that the Bell House flooded and needed to be quickly wrung out prior to the show. Hats off to whoever sopped up all that rain water because aside from a few minute wet spots (including the one on the front of my pants lol jk) you never would have known that they had a defcon 5 water situation on their hands just prior to the show.
But enough about wet spots. I got to the show a minute or two into the great Leo Allen's awesome lead-off set. I think I've seen Leo more times than any other comic, and the dude consistently delivers. Leo is the weekly host of Whiplash, so you can, literally, once a week, see this man dominate live. And I'm not even talking about the many bills he pops up on otherwise. He is the man. Leo was followed by Jared Logan who is easily one of the best comics in the biz nowadays. Super high energy, sharp as a tack, and flippin' loud, the dude's a machine of awesomeness. Jared literally performs at least once a night somewhere in NYC when he's not on the road, so I highly suggest you click on his hyperlinked name a sentence or two back and check out his calendar and make it to one of his shows. That dude's going places. Trust me.
Jared was followed by dance duo Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass who did a really well-executed, high energy, and, at times, extremely funny dance number to a James Brown song. I was sort of vexed as to how something like this would fit into the evening's line-up, especially since dance really is not my wheelhouse at all. But I loved it! They were great! And they really kept the momentum going.
H. John Benjamin was next and, as usual, his set was odd but extremely funny. He kicked things off by doing a dance number of his own to the same song Monica and Anna did, only he dragged some poor girl onto the stage to continue the dance while he took her seat. After upbraiding her for not performing as well as he expected, he riffed for a while before finally reading text exchanges between his 11-year old son and his friend. Truly awkward and hilarious, though, man, that poor kid.
The next act up was Aparna Nancherla who I had never seen before but have been hearing volumes of good stuff about lo these past few months. All the positive things I've been hearing and reading about her are beyond well-founded; she's the best. I cannot remember the last time I have seen a comic do "self-deprecating" so well. Her unassuming appearance hides an unbelievable level of snark and biting wit and as her set progressed, the mask of delicacy started to slip. It was awesome. Her CV is already pretty stacked but this kid is going places. Do go to her website and check out one of her many upcoming NY C area shows. Trust me.
Comedy veteran Jon Glaser was next and he definitely proceeded with a very Jon Glaser signature set about soccer and, well, stories about people with papercuts on their penises and how they got them. Glaser is another comic I have seen more than just about anyone else and, as usual, the material seemed totally off-the-cuff and unrehearsed, but completely hilarious nonetheless. The final act was Michael Che, a comedian who, right now, is so on top of his game it's ridiculous. Through relentless gigging and rock solid material, Che is basically world renowned at this point. As a new recurring correspondent, Che made his Daily Show debut earlier this month and was a fantastic headliner and a world class wrap up to a phenomenal show.
Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass
H. Jon Benjamin