Maybe it's because we're both originally from Massachusetts and share a lot of the same comedic and cultural sensibilities, but comedian Greg Johnson is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite comedians. Although I can't remember the exact showcase or even the exact year, Greg for sure first came to my attention at a comedy showcase at Rififi (probably Invite Them Up). Greg possess an absolutely classic stand-up style that avoids long, tangential, story-based, long-form bits and instead employs a quick, sharp, economic set-up/delivery model. It infuriates me on a daily basis practically that Greg is not yet a household name. Greg is doing a live comedy recording on Thursday 12/29 at Putnam's (419 Myrtle Ave) (flyer below) and I can't think of a better way to segue into the madness that is New Years weekend. It's a measly $6 and he'll be joined by the extremely funny Adam Wade and Danny Tamberelli (aka Little Pete of The Adventures of Pete & Pete). And Putnam's has Elysian Spacedust IPA on tap which will knock you on your ass in the best way possible.
Greg is very much a comic's comic, so when I asked him to kindly participate in our annual Year End Best Of list mania, he produced a list that is very comic-centric and also very on point. Big ups, Greg!
GREG JOHNSON'S TOP 10 PROJECTS FROM COMEDIANS HE ENJOYED IN 2016
Hi. I am pleased to do this, but I will spare you my list of top 10 (or -God forbid- more) music or films or BluRay DVDs of this year. As a NYC comedian (doing a show in Brooklyn Thursday 12/29 as part of a live album recording at Putnam's in Fort Greene- please come), here is an intensely-curated list of 10 projects FROM COMEDIANS I enjoyed this year.
1) Decker : This is not the Ted Danson show Becker, it's Tim Heidecker's super silly, secret-agent spoof series which began on YouTube (you can go there and start with episode 1) and made its way to TV in 2016 (renamed Decker: Unclassified). These brief episodes are addictive and funny as all hell, in my humble opinion. Between this and his numerous other production projects, Tim Heidecker just may be a comedic genius who is now entering his prime. Also, Gregg Turkington (aka. Neil Hamburger) cannot be denied.
2) Search Party: Search Party > Stranger Things. Everyone seemed to enjoy watching and talking about Stranger Things this year, but this similarly binge-worthy series set in Brooklyn (also about 4 people searching for answers in a mysterious disappearance) may be both more grown-up and satisfying than its sci-fi counterpart. And it's FUNNY. Alia Shawkat is endlessly watchable, and anything John Early touches turns to gold (editor's note: AGREED). Seriously, John is a hero. Speaking of which....
3) Other People : Chris Kelly (SNL) wrote and directed this movie about his mother dying, and it is entirely remarkable. It is so fucking heart breaking and often hysterically funny. I got dehydrated from crying (TMI). Molly Shannon deserves an Oscar. And again, John Early.
4) Broad City : I appreciate that this show continues to entertain, evolve, its stars are now icons and, at its most basic, I think it's a show that can often make you appreciate the quirks and grandness of living in New York City, even on days when you may hate living here. Speaking of a pair of wonderful comedians and their work-
Two fantastic NYC comedians released their debut books this year. Worth checking out if you enjoy quality reads, or great humorists. Jessi and Jacqueline are gifts from Heaven.
6) Tig Notaro LIVE at Carnegie Hall : Tig Notaro was the toast of this year's NY Comedy Festival when, not only did she deliver a flawless, killer hour long set at Carnegie Hall, but she ended her set by introducing surprise guests Indigo Girls who rocked a 6 song mini-concert to close out the show. The audience completely lost their minds when this happened. The surprise had them leaping out of their seats, screaming and wiping away tears. It was psychotic. Tig is out of this world.
7) The Eric Andre Show and Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule : The hyperactive hilarity of Eric Andre's show is masterful , with 2016's season 4 marking maybe its best outing yet. And its Adult Swim counterpart, Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule, is just as mind-bendingly funny. John C. Reilly as Steve Brule is perfection. A triumph.
8) Baskets : Between this series that premiered in January, and his Between Two Ferns interview with Hilary Clinton (and others), Zach Galifianakis remains a national treasure. Not every episode of Baskets is necessarily a banger, but the season as a whole provided thoughtful moments, poignant hilarity, and a strong desire in me to see where we go in season 2 (which premieres in early 2017). Louie Anderson, who won an Emmy for portraying Zach's Mom, and Martha Kelly round out the quality here. I literally love them both.
9) David (Story of David) and Nathan For You : Nathan For You is one hell of a great show. And Nathan Fielder is wonderful. So is the great Dean Fleischer-Camp who brought us David: Story of David which stars Fielder in the title role and is out there on Youtube. A true delight. The talented Fleischer-Camp killed it with this one. Binge it.
10) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee : These 2 disciples of The Daily Show got me laughing at the news in a year when it definitely wasn't always pleasant to begin with. I sort of get the feeling John Oliver has the best and most thoughtful comedy news show of all time. And his post-election season finale deserves a Peabody Award. Must see shit. And Samantha Bee is fantastic: smart, endlessly likable, and many think should have been the choice to take over for Stewart at the Daily Show. Oh well- she's doing fucking great where she is on her own show.
** Honorable Mention: Stand Up Brooklyn with Greg Johnson **
This is a stand up series (free on Youtube), shot in Brooklyn featuring over 30 talented stand-up comedians that I created for Brooklyn's BRIC TV. All 8 episodes are free on YouTube. Search for it by name. Right now. Thanks. Happy new year. It gets better.