Is Devo the Funniest Band in History?


This week in Cheap Laughs, we have sad Griffins, nostalgic whippings, mid-Nineties strokings, and the vital importance of basements. Here’s our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.

Wednesday, May 27

Showcase of Showcases
Eastville, 9 p.m., $8

Nick Griffin was on Letterman three times in the last three years (eleven visits in all), and he crushed it every damned time. Only a handful of performers were batting that kind of average — Jerry Seinfeld, Brian Regan, and Griffin himself. Not that it made him happy. Griffin seems blessed with two great gifts: the ability to write an exceptional joke with total apparent ease, and the power to find the utter futility in almost anything. If that sounds hilarious, you’re in excellent company. Griffin headlines this local showcase tonight alongside killers like Andy Sandford and Naomi Ekperigin.

Thursday, May 28

Funny Songs Fest
The Unicorn, 7.30 p.m., $10 (and various times/venues through the week)

The NY Funny Songs Fest is an independent festival created by the comedy musicians of NYC for all the tune-clowns of the world. It’s three days of shows, parties, panels, and more. All the local heavy hitters will be in attendance, alongside great performers from all over this silly song-singing planet. Look out for Stuckey and Murray, Rob Paravonian, and the Girls With Brown Hair. Jessica Delfino hosts with aplomb.

A Comedy Tribute to Devo
Littlefield, Doors 7 p.m. / Show 8 p.m., $10

Were Devo the world’s funniest band, or the world’s most musically gifted comics? These and other questions of vital importance may be answered tonight, as Littlefield is taken over by terraced energy dome hats in tribute to the greatest band ever to come out of Akron. It’s the 35th anniversary of Devo’s Freedom of Choice, and also the year that record gets the full 33 1/3 book treatment from author and journalist Evie Nagy. To celebrate, comic Jake Fogelnest hosts, Devo songwriter Gerald V. Casale makes a personal appearance, and a bunch of great comedians whip it good with their best new-wave jokes. We shall all enjoy this event. We are Devo.

Friday, May 29

First Comes Love
The Knitting Factory, 7.30 p.m., $5 here

First Comes Love is based on a simple theory. The theory is this: If you ask Craigslist users to write amateur porn scripts, on a highly specific theme, for no money, based on an extremely vague promise that they might (might) be made into actual erotic films…they will send them to you. This is exactly what Kyle Ayers asks Craigslist users regularly. And he receives hundreds of scripts, which he then performs live with comedian pals. Tonight is a special Nineties TV–themed show, so prepare to enjoy Boy Meats World, Mystery Porn Theater 3000, and our favorite, Two in the Pinky & the Brain. SNL‘s Sasheer Zamata does stand-up, too.

Saturday, May 30

Dark Spots
The Creek and the Cave, 10 p.m., Free

If you take your comedy dark, this is the show for you. Rather than shy away from life’s big painful issues, this show takes aim right at them, inviting comedians to perform their saddest (i.e., funniest) bits for a receptive crowd. Each month’s sets will be inspired by a different dark theme, such as death, illness, depression, divorce, or addiction. Tonight’s theme is Childhood Trauma, so expect some bed-wetting and a few handsy uncles. Special guest sketch group Murderfist will also perform some of their most horrific material. By the end, one of two things will happen: Either you walk away with troubled childhood memories cathartically lifted, or you sprint for the nearest shrink’s office. In the long run, both are good outcomes.

Monday, June 1

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide
Union Hall, Doors 8.30 p.m. / Show 9 p.m., $8

For three years, The Chris Gethard Show on Manhattan’s MNN network was a Bruegel-like parade of public-access lunacy. Self-confessed anxious failure Gethard presided over a massive cast of characters — The Human Fish, Bananaman, the woman who Hula-Hoops constantly — in a cavalcade of utter silliness that recalled early Conan or the movie UHF. Over time, real guests showed up, like the time Zach Galifianakis gave haircuts live on air, Mike Birbiglia juggled one-handed, or Sleater-Kinney stopped by to Godzilla-stomp a cardboard city. Now the show has been picked up on an actual cable channel — Fusion TV — and Gethard is almost a success — so it’s the perfect time to perform an hour of stand-up focusing on suicide, alcoholism, and all the other funniest parts of life.

Tuesday, June 2

Aparna Nancherla: Album Taping
Union Hall, Doors 7 p.m. / Show 7.30 p.m., $8

Aparna Nancherla is one of the funniest human beings on Twitter. She also happens to be one of those people who can translate a “Twitter voice” into an “actually-devastatingly-funny-in-an-actual-room-with-people-present” voice. Tonight she’s recording her debut album in Brooklyn’s perfect comedy venue, Union Hall. It’s dark, with a nice low ceiling to keep all the laughs in. And it’s a basement showroom, which is essential. For some reason, people laugh harder underground. Maybe it shortens the distance between you and the Devil.