comedy roundup: SXSW report ++ upcoming NYC shows (Anthony Atamanuik, Joe Pera, more)
So much comedy happens in NYC it’s hard to keep up. Here’s this week’s roundup of comedy stuff going on in the city. Be sure to check out last week’s roundup for more, and you can check out our comedy tag for still more.
Before we dive into NYC stuff…most know SXSW for its music and film offerings, but 2018 marked the 11th year of the adjacent comedy festival, which has grown from a single night to nearly an entire week of stand-up, sketch comedy, and podcasts. In addition to bigger names in stand up like Nick Offerman and Jim Gaffigan, the week also highlighted the best that indie comedy has to offer. On Friday, Joe Pera premiered three episodes of his upcoming Adult Swim show Joe Pera Talks With You, with support from the show’s writers and stars, Conner O’Malley and Jo Firestone. The show definitely isn’t for everyone – a person I sat next to left halfway through after saying it was “too weird” for her – but for those who appreciate Pera’s comforting yet eerily soft demeanor, it was just the right amount of uncanny to make for a heartwarming and hilarious viewing. The stand up was even weirder – O’Malley started with a joke about breaking up a fight between his two adopted Russian sons over a fleshlight – but vulgarity lost to absurdity throughout the night, with Firestone and Search Party star John Reynolds acting out the world’s most uncomfortable marketing roundtable.
Many of the same faces cropped up on Jo Firestone’s showcase Saturday night, which featured Reynolds, Pera, and O’Malley as well as Matteo Lane, Jo’s Butterboy co-host Maeve Higgins, and Ian Abramson. On Saturday, Comedy Central’s Corporate brought their cast to Esther’s Follies for a night of stand up and an advance premiere of the show’s finale. The comedians on the whole matched the dark, sordid tone of the bleak TV show – Jake Weisman had perhaps my favorite joke of the entire festival, “I know I’m gaining weight because my belt doesn’t fit around my neck like it used to.” The show also featured sets from Matt Ingebretson, Aparna Nancherla, Baron Vaughn, and Adam Lustick.
On Sunday, Nancherla returned to the stage for a SXSW edition of her weekly NYC stand up showcase Butterboy Comedy, which featured co-host Maeve Higgins along with Matteo Lane, Ian Abramson, Liza Treyger, and Roy Wood Jr. Treyger killed it with a set focused on a recent breakup and her thoughts on male friendship (“If you make eye contact three times you’re automatically a groomsman at the wedding). Lane’s hilarious observations on the homosexual undertones of hunting and his musings on reality TV also left a strong impression.
Later on in the week, Brandon Wardell and friends brought their brand of humor, which can only be called “hypebeast millenial,” to Esther’s Follies as part of the Loud Village comedy showcase. Proving that perhaps ironic memes don’t translate to the stage, Brandon Wardell’s tired take on lazy homophobia as it relates to your “bros” landed with the younger male crowd much more than the rest of the audience.
In general, SXSW Comedy brought a surprising amount of rising stars to its stages this year, all of which were well-received by Austin’s famously open-minded and experimental comedy audiences. Luckily, many of the same names we saw in Austin last weekend are performing in New York this week – from Liza Treyger at the Comedy Cellar to another weekly installment of Butterboy, read on to find the best New York comedy has to offer this week.
Last week, Comedy Central announced that after some speculation, they were indeed renewing Anthony Atamanuik‘s whip-smart political satire The President Show for another season, in addition to running an hour-long special, titled the Make America Great-A-Thon on April 3 at 11 PM. Long before he was the President of the United States, however, Atamanuik brought his masterful character-driven absurdity to stages across New York City. This Wednesday (3/21), he returns his old stomping grounds, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (now in Hell’s Kitchen), to do just that at his monthly installment of “The Tony Show” (tickets). Atamanuik’s monthly showcase is one of dozens of fantastic comedy shows this week. For the rest of our weekly recommendations, read on.
Tonight (3/19) once again brings the impossible task of choosing between two amazing showcases at 8 PM: Butterboy Comedy, hosted by Aparna Nancherla (who will appear on season 2 of Netflix’s The Standups, premiering Tuesday), Jo Firestone, and Maeve Higgins, and featuring Ophira Eisenberg (NPR’s Ask Me Another), Chris Donahue, Nore Davis, Dwayne Kennedy, and Wanjiko Eke (tickets); and Side Ponytail Comedy at Friends and Lovers in Crown Heights which features Dan Pearlman, Trey Galyon, Sarah Sherman, Lawrence DeLoach, and Gideon Hambright. Side Ponytail is a great place to catch up-and-coming comedians, and this week is no exception. Chicago comedian Sarah Sherman, who was recently on the cover of the Chicago Reader for her noise music and comedy showcase Helltrap Nightmare, wraps up a string of New York tour dates at Side Ponytail this week. At Butterboy at littlefield, rising comic Nore Davis is definitely worth a watch – his Amazon special, “You Guys Are Dope,” comes out this May.
Also on Monday at the Living Gallery in Bushwick, catch the monthly showcase Living For It! This month’s installment features Emma Willmann (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), plus Josh Johnson, Shane Torres, Carmen Lagela, Kenice Mobley, Lena Einbinder, and more. The proceeds from the show goes to a different charity each month. This month, the beneficiary is the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which fights to protect the freedom to express one’s gender without harassment (tickets).
On Tuesday, 3/20, David Cross performs to a sold-out crowd at littlefield. If you didn’t get a chance to grab tickets before they sold out, another great Tuesday show is The Stand’s 8 PM show, featuring Janeane Garofolo, Nikki Glaser and Pete Lee (tickets). Or you could always stay in to catch the season premiere of The Chris Gethard Show at 11 PM on truTV.
On Tuesday at The Shanty is the “Dan + Joe + Charles Show” with Dan Licata, the aformentioned Joe Pera and Charles Gould, plus guests Josh Gondelman, Gary Richardson, Stavros Halkias, and Eliza Hurwitz.. That show is free, 8:30 PM.
Also on Tuesday at Union Hall, catch Ophira Eisenberg again with Jawbreaker opener and New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake, along with Iris Bahr, Carolyn Castiglia, Roz Chast, and Aminah Imani at Shitshow, a night of parenting-themed comedy (tickets).
At Union Hall on Wednesday, 3/21, be sure to catch Sasheer Zamata at Rent Party, an improvised music and stand up show featuring Ryan Beck, Jake Head, Alison Leiby, Dina Hashem, and Kenice Mobley, hosted by Farah Brook and Yedoye Travis (tickets). For more even more comedy from the SNL cast and writers, check out our ticket giveaway to an upcoming Writers Showcase hosted by co-head writer Bryan Tucker below.
And if you’re seeing Anthony Atamanuik on Wednesday at UCB Theater, come a bit early to catch “The Opposers,” a.k.a. improv from the cast and crew of The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, at UCB Hell’s Kitchen. Klepper and friends are on at 8, while Tony starts at 11.
Another fantastic Wednesday lineup at The Bell House also benefits a great cause: “Never Again, A Night to Benefit Stoneman Douglas High School,” features comedy from Mike Birbiglia, Seth Herzog, Michelle Buteau, Jo Firestone, Christian Finnegan, and Dave Hill, and music from Tony Award winner Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) (tickets). Birbiglia returns to the Bell House on March 27 for another showcase for a good cause, The Comedy Resistance, which promises to combine political activism and stand-up. That show also features Hari Kondabolu, Cipha Sounds and Eudora Peterson. Get tickets before they sell out.
Also on Wednesday at LIttlefield, the Comedy Co-op features stand up from Dave Hill, Janeane Garofalo, Liza Treyger, Gina Yashere, Harris Stanton, Mike Britt, and special guests (tickets).
For a more experimental stand up showcase, Carmen Christopher’s Union Pool showcase The Juice is always a solid bet. This month’s installment features Mary Houlihan, Rebecca O’Neal, Molly Austin, Robby Hoffman, Tim Platt, Rachel Joravsky & Rachel Pegram, and Daniel Simonsen (tickets).
Thursday (3/22) brings another showcase from Comedy Central – this time, Trevor Noah and the cast of The Daily Show take the stage at The Stand for a night of stand up (tickets).
On Thursday at A Bar in Greenpoint, Mike Abrusci and Diego Lopez host Cool World Comedy, a monthly showcase. This week, catch Clare O’Kane (fresh off of her opening set for Jawbreaker earlier this month), in addition to Julia Shiplett, Damian Holmes, Eliza Hurwitz, and Taj Osorio (tickets).
One of the brightest new additions to the New York comedy scene has been the Brooklyn Comedy Collective, which currently hosts shows at The Brick Theatre in Williamsburg. This Friday (3/23), catch their weekly showcase “The Sauce,” hosted by Joe Rumrill and Nick Naney and featuring an all-star lineup of underground comics, including Matt Koff (The Daily Show), Mitra Jouhari (The President Show), Julia Shiplett (Crashing), and Sydnee Washington (Unofficial Expert Podcast) (tickets). On Saturday at The Brick, catch Conner O’Malley’s newest sketch creation, “The Hog Live!” Described as an “hour long talk show hosted by Chicago’s most insane classic rock radio shock jock Jason “the Hog” Brink (O’Malley)”, and featuring support from Annie Donley, Carmen Christopher, and Andrew Tisher, one can only expect absolute mayhem from the king of Chicago satire (tickets).
And as always, there are tons of great comics performing throughout the week at the Comedy Cellar – highlights include a set from Chris Gethard on Wednesday 3/21, one day after the season premiere of TCGS, and an appearance from friend-of-BV Dave Hill on 3/20 as part of Tom Pappa’s showcase “Come to Pappa.” Other notable regulars this week are Michelle Wolf, Liza Treyger, Colin Quinn, and Emma Willmann. The full lineup is available on the Comedy Cellar website.
We’re also giving away tickets to an exciting showcase coming up next week! On March 29 at he Q.E.D. Theatre in Astoria, Saturday Night Live co-head writer Bryan Tucker will host the SNL Writers Showcase. The lineup will be announced closer to the show, but previous showcases have included appearances by Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah Pete Davidson, Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones. The show is completely sold out, but BrooklynVegan is giving away a pair of tickets.
To enter to win tickets, either comment on this post, or tweet: “I want to win tickets to the SNL Writers Showcase at Q.E.D. Astoria @BrooklynVegan http://bit.ly/2IDh76c” (be sure to include the bit.ly url.