Theater archives

Comic (Un)convention


NPR recently asked me to comment on the “downtown alternative comedy scene from an academic perspective.” An academic* perspective?! Though it currently serves as a launchpad for local jokers, perhaps a more apt perspective is: This bunch of boys and a small sprinkling of girls who are unconventionally cute, smart, and funny (of course) attract broader audiences than the smattering of hipsters and friends that once attended such shows—carefully curated evenings that often include music and video elements alongside traditional stand-up routines. Vox Pop attended events put on by the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and NBC’s talent-incubating arm PSNBC, among others, that featured the old guard (David Cross, Michael Showalter, Todd Barry, David Wain . . .) and introduced some who should soon be household names (Paul Scheer, Jessi Klein, Demetri Martin, Eugene Mirman . . .) to the throngs. Yes, cramming 400 people into Pianos, or turning away ’round-the-block lines at Marquee and UCB constitute throngs. Throngs hungry for humor.

We asked: So, you think these guys are funny, eh? What else in New York is funny?

EVAN GOLDFINE, stock trader LISA BIDERMAN, psychology student [Manhattan]

EG: What’s funny is the relative size of our picture on this page to the number of copies our mothers are going to take for relatives. We just got engaged, so it’s sort of like a free announcement. Also, Lisa’s favorite one-liner. LB: (hesitates) EG: Come on. LB: What’s brown and sounds like a bell? VP: (contemplates) LB: DUNG! EG: Nice.

DEMETRI MARTIN, comedian, writer [Manhattan]

Invite Them Up, the weekly show that Eugene Mirman and Bobby Tisdale have cultivated at Rififi, is funny. The crowd is so good and there is a great feeling of experimentation there. Mopeds are funny too.

JEN CARLSON, writer [Manhattan]

David Cross and Todd Barry gave me this lovely bottle of Trump eau de toilette as a gift. Onstage. What’s funny is not that they gave me a gift, but that this bottle of cologne looks like the Trump Tower but smells like the F train.

MIKAEL JORGENSEN, musician [Chicago, Illinois]

Animals in human clothing. Also, underground phone prank tapes.

SAMM LEVINE, actor [Los Angeles, California]

How about the overabundance of hansom cabs in the city? It’s cool if you want to ride through the park in one, but I got stuck in traffic today between four of them! And I don’t feel good yelling at a horse I don’t have money on. Why not unclog the city streets by making the drivers direct traffic and letting the horses roam free someplace empty, like New Jersey? This is only funny, I suppose, in the sense that watching me get irritated tends to make women laugh.

DAVID WAIN, comedian-filmmaker [Manhattan]

I just saw a great improv duo at UCB. Oh, but one of them moved to L.A.

*VOX POP QUIZ: Which local comedian majored in “comedy” in college?

Hint: The prize is a copy of his/her new CD. Answers: