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Chris Gethard tells us his Top 10 Reality Escapes of 2016

Chris Gethard’s Smiths cover band at Chumped’s final show (more by Nick Karp)
Chris Gethard’s Smiths cover band at Chumped’s final show, 2/6/16 (more by Nick Karp)

Comedian Chris Gethard has graced the pages of BrooklynVegan many times over the years, and rightfully so. In addition to being one of New York City’s finest comedians, orators, writers, and personalities, he’s also tightly woven into the the fabric of the New York/New Jersey music scene and scenes further afield (like that time he relied solely on human kindness to get from Los Angeles to Bonnaroo with no car, no phone, and no money). Whether he’s hosting a BV-presented music showcase, singing in a Morrissey cover band, or bringing awesome bands onto The Chris Gethard Show, Chris has seamlessly cemented himself into the worlds of comedy and music.

2016 has seen some pretty great things happening for Geth, including a co-starring role in Mike Birbiglia’s movie Don’t Think Twice and an off-Broadway residency of his one man show Career Suicide (which has been extended through January 8, get ticktets). I also highly recommend his Earwolf podcast Beautiful/Anonymous wherein Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. Lasting upwards of an hour, these calls have been all sorts of interesting.

For years, Chris has been an absolute favorite of mine. His style of funny is lucid, poignant, direct and vulnerable. He tackles difficult topics such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse with incredible sensitivity and clarity and his live performances have always blown my mind. He has also inadvertently caused your man Klaus many moments of personal reflection. He is a one of a kind  talent whose participation in the BV 2016 Year End List was essential. Take it away Geth!

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Chris Gethard’s Top 10 Reality Escapes of 2016

Hi everybody!

Chris Gethard here, hoping everyone is having a happy and safe ending to 2016, a year I think we are all super PSYCHED about in every way!

If there’s one thing I enjoyed doing during a year like this, it was consistently escaping into various aspects of pop culture so I could forget both the omnipresent personal fear (2016 was a great year for me professionally but I do not respond to success well, so I spent a lot of time participating actively in escapism) and the overall looming fears of the world becoming scarier.

With that happy face put on things, please allow me to share with you ten things about 2016 that floated my boat:

1) THE CRUISERWEIGHT CLASSIC – I am a proud subscriber to the WWE network, though I don’t watch modern wrestling. Mostly I’ve just used it to live in the nostalgia, watching documentaries about guys I watched growing up and diving into old matches. A lot of that involves watching old matches from the NWA when things were presented a bit more as “Who would win in this athletic matchup?” versus the storyline driven stuff that eventually won and took over. The Cruiserweight Classic was a totally modern version of that old school throwback. The guys shook hands before every match. They framed the whole thing around the idea that each guy was representing their country and coming from far-flung corners of the globe to test their mettle. And then on top of all the pomp and circumstance, the wrestling was really fucking good.

2) CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR – Look, they finally got Spider-Man totally right. Tobey Maguire wasn’t so bad, but a bit emo and a bit old, right? Andrew Garfield was put in a real bad spot right out of the gate. This new kid, they really did it right! He was insecure, and a wise-ass, and didn’t know when to shut up. I’m re-reading Ditko’s run on Spider-Man on the Unlimited App right now and this movie depiction was so on target. I’m not going to lie – I burst out crying when Spider-Man showed up and I realized it was finally the Spider-Man I grew up with. I later thanked my wife for not mocking me for crying over Spider-Man. She reminded me that this was actually the third time I’ve cried over Spider-Man in front of her. (The first two involved me verbally explaining old Spider-Man storylines to her and getting emotional thinking about them, so this was actually an upgrade.)

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3) COLIN QUINN: THE NEW YORK STORY – Colin Quinn really is a godfather of stand up comedy, and I think for a lot of us who do comedy in New York, he’s a guy everyone looks up to and admires. I am in awe of him. He’s given me advice on some of my jokes and he can solve problems in thirty seconds that I’ve been tackling for months. ANYWAY – his new Netflix special, The New York Story, made me laugh so hard. It’s just relentless. It’s also an amazingly smart way to use a theatrical overview to do effective ethnic based humor in 2016. It’s a history lesson of New York told through stereotypes of the people who live there, and not many people could pull that off in the times we currently live in. It’s so smart and so funny.
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4) JEFF ROSENSTOCK: WORRY – This super-talented, well intentioned, giving asshole who looks out for everybody around him and tries to make sure that there’s an actual scene worth supporting once again made an album full of melodies I can’t get out of my fucking head. Fuck.
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5) WOMANHOODJo Firestone and Aparna Nancherla are two of the most brilliant comedians going and I can’t stress enough how great they are. Them coming together on a truly bizarre series focusing on the idea of Womanhood itself? There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.
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6) SETON HALL WINNING THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP – Look, if there’s one thing that I know every single reader of BrooklynVegan agrees upon, it’s that the dissolution of the Big East conference in the face of the money consuming monster that is NCAA football was the downfall of something truly special in the face of unhindered corporate greed. That’s why I think we’d all agree that the Big East bouncing back, and inviting a series of schools that immediately re-established it as the home for scrappy hardscrabble teams that don’t have the huge athletic department money but that set the bar so high for themselves or each other that they’re a major player come March is exciting as hell. Being from West Orange, NJ I fondly remember the Terry DeHere teams and was so thrilled that Seton Hall – one of the scrappiest teams in this scrappy conference – shocked Villanova at the Garden. Isaiah Whitehead is the shit.
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7) MIKEY ERG: TENTATIVE DECISIONS – After making us wait years for his solo album, Mikey hits us with a chorus of “I wish you loved me, blah blah blah blah. And I wasn’t lonely, blah blah blah blah.” Which is somehow both the prototypical Mikey Erg sentiment while simultaneously serving as Mikey himself rolling his eyes at the prototypical Mikey Erg sentiment. So so good.
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8) TICKLED – Yo, did you see this movie? What in the fuck? Didn’t see that shit coming! (editor’s note: Jonah Ray liked it too!)
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9) #1 TRUMP FAN IN NYC – For my money, this is the funniest video I watched online all year. Conner O’Malley is a madman and a genius and is an unstoppable rampaging comedy machine. His antagonism of Trump fans throughout the year under the guise of “Mark Seevers” was some of the most in your face aggressive political stuff related to the election and in retrospect I bet many of us would agree we could have used more of this. This video though, takes the cake, because it starts in a way that any New Yorker will say “That is ballsy and hilarious but completely fucking disgusting and totally unsanitary.”
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10) A TRIBE CALLED QUEST – Some of my fondest memories of childhood involve hanging out in my best friend Anthony’s basement, playing Sega Genesis and listening to Midnight Marauders. And that shit sounded weird then. This new Tribe album, it’s like a throwback to that, but in a way that makes you realize in a totally non-melodramatic way, “Oh, everyone always said A Tribe Called Quest was ahead of their time, but them putting out this album in 2016 shows that they were exactly this far ahead of their time.” It’s like they stopped bothering to be ahead of their time, waited for the world to catch up, and put out an album this year as if to say “In 1993, we were already in 2016. We’re glad you motherfuckers finally caught up.”

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