Stand Up NY

Stand Up NY

Stand Up NY

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In The Beginning…

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Everyone gets their start somewhere. For comedians, it is usually in a brick-walled room, dimly lit, possibly half empty, and the MC may be landing more jokes than the comedians. That’s a pretty nerve-wracking job interview! So how do big names like Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, TJ Miller, Sarah Silverman, Judy Gold, and everyone else come about? Well, I’ll say again, everyone has to start somewhere; which is exactly what Huffington Post documented and compiled. The video below displays some of the best and worst pioneering performances of today’s top comedians. Take a look and enjoy!

Source: The First Stand-Up Performances of Famous Comedians Supercut by WorldWideInterweb on Rumble

So not everyone has a great first show… but these not-so-well-known-at-the-time names kept coming back to the stage for more until one great audience acknowledged their powers of humor and started to spread the word. A few comedians even had one of their first breakthrough performances here at StandUp NY, these names include Andrew Schulz, Dan Soder, and Joe Machi, among others. This is partially due to StandUp NY’s recurring Thursday evening show, Clap Clap Boom, offering many new comics a chance to join pros on stage to test their wit and charm against the best. Visit us at the only comedy venue currently on the Upper West Side with shows every night of the week.

 

Come see us any Thursday at 10:15pm for our Clap Clap Boom showcase, only $5. Who knows you could be watching a future star’s maiden performance here at StandUp NY!

Where Where They?

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How old were you when you realized your calling? Maybe you’re still searching for it. Comedians are no different.   Some people always knew they wanted to do comedy. There are a few comedians who were already well known when they were teenagers. Others didn’t find out they were meant to do comedy until much later in their lives. Sometimes comedians worked in vastly different fields before finding out they could make a living being funny. Here is the age and former occupations of various famous stand-ups before they made it big:

Chris Rock – Rock dropped out of high school and was working in fast food before he began performing in various New York comedy clubs in 1984 at 19 years old.

Amy Schumer – Schumer started her stand-up career on her 23rd birthday in 2004 after working as a bartender and waitress.

George Carlin – Carlin began performing stand-up in the early 1960s after getting kicked out of the Air Force and working as a radio host.

Ron White – White started performing at age 29 after serving in the Navy.

Sarah Silverman – Silverman first performed comedy at age 17 and did so bad she didn’t try again until she was 19. She was an NYU student and waitress in the mean time.

Wanda Sykes – Sykes began performing in DC area clubs at age 23 while working as a contracting specialist for the NSA.

Seth Rogen – Movie star Seth Rogen was getting paid to do stand-up comedy at age 13.

Joan Rivers – Rivers got her start doing stand-up in 1959 after working as a Rockefeller Center tour guide, as a fashion consultant and as a writer for an advertising agency.

Louis CK – Louis first performed at an open mic at 18 but worked as an auto mechanic, cook and video store clerk before he began to make a living doing comedy.

Sam Kinison – Kinison became a comedian in 1978 after divorcing his wife and giving up his career as a Pentecostal preacher.

Roseanne Barr – Barr was a stay-at-home mom before finally giving stand up a go in 1980 at age 28.

Richard Pryor – Pryor worked as a drummer and was drafted into the Army before beginning his legendary career at age 23.

Rodney Dangerfield – Dangerfield had moderate success as a comedian as a teenager in the 1930s. He gave up on show business soon after and worked various jobs but was mostly a salesman until the 1960s. Changing up his name and his act, Dangerfield finally became a successful comedian in his mid-40s.

This list shows us that comedy knows no age and you should always keep looking for the career that makes you happy. Rodney Dangerfield remained a popular comedian even around the time he died at 82. Old or young, we want to hear your jokes down at Stand Up NY.

Dick Gregory

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The world lost a comedy icon last month when Dick Gregory died of heart failure on August 19th. Great comedians know how to make people laugh. However, comedy legends can do more than that. Sometimes, comedy can transcend just making people laugh. It can make you laugh, cry, think and even help change the world. That was what Dick Gregory did. Though primarily known as a comedian, Gregory was also a writer, social critic, civil rights activist and too many other things to fit in this blog post. Born in St. Louis in 1932, Gregory earned a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University. Gregory set school records in track but was drafted into the Army before he could finish his degree. It was in the Army that Gregory got his start in comedy after an officer noticed how much he loved to joke around.

After being discharged, Gregory began to headline at nightclubs in Chicago. He began his career mostly in African-American clubs but soon began playing for white audiences as well. Hugh Hefner, who Gregory credits with helping to start his career, hired him as an act for the Playboy Club after hearing Gregory in Chicago one night. Gregory became known for making clever jokes about race and politics. He created a national conversation about racial discrimination when he refused to appear on The Tonight Show. Gregory refused to be on the show several times because black performers on the show were not invited to talk to the host after they performed like white performers were. The host of The Tonight Show, Johnny Paar, finally agreed to talk to Gregory after he performed which was a first for a black performer on late-night television.

By the 1960s, Gregory had made several television appearances and was one of the most popular comedians in America. He also earned a reputation during this time for fighting injustice. Gregory was heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement and the Anti-war movement. Gregory was arrested several times during the civil rights era for fighting racial discrimination. He was good friends with many famous people in the anti-war movement, such as Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and John Lennon. Lennon even credits him as inspiring the lyrics to Imagine and has said Gregory helped him kick his addiction to opiates. In the 1970s, Gregory was also an outspoken advocate of feminism.

In the years since the peak of his fame in the 1960s, Gregory has continued to write prolifically, advocate for various social causes and perform comedy. He went on hunger strikes to support animal rights and the equal rights amendment. Up until his death, Gregory was occasionally doing stand-up and appearing in comedic films. Today, Gregory is known as a trailblazer in comedy who wasn’t afraid to be anti-establishment or to speak on controversial issues of the time. He inspired later rebellious comedians like George Carlin and Richard Pryor. When asked about who was his greatest influence, Pryor said “Dick Gregory was the greatest, and he was the first. Somebody had to break down that door.” Several modern comedians such as Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock also cite him as an influence.

Dick Gregory used the power of humor to provoke people to think and change the world for the better. He showed the comedy world that comedy can be so much more than a way to make people laugh.

What is the Funniest State in America?

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Rolling Stone published an article earlier this year ranking what they say are the 50 greatest comedians of all time (a few of whom got their start at Stand Up NY). Sure, lists like this can be subjective, but it includes legends that most people who follow comedy would agree belong in the conversation of a comedic best of all-time list. For example, the top 5 on the Rolling Stone list are Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK and Chris Rock. After looking up the state each person on this list of 50 truly great comedians is from (the Americans ones anyway), we determined a quasi-scientific list of which part of America produces the funniest people. So here it is, the top 5 funniest states:

5. Washington DC: Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes

4. California: Albert Brooks, Phyllis Diller, Margaret Cho

3. Massachusetts: Louis CK, Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neal, Steven Wright

2. Illinois: Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Gary Shandling, Redd Foxx, Bob Newheart, Bernie Mac

1. New York: George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock, Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman, Don                    Rickles, Eddie Murphy, Rodney Dangerfield, Woody Allen, Amy Schumer, Freddie Prinze, Elayne Boosler

In some ways, there are no surprises here. Those top 5 states produce legends and have the most famous venues for comedians and entertainers. Also, great comedians from elsewhere travel to the biggest cities in those states to try and make it in comedy. That begs the question, are these states really producing the funniest people or are people in these states just more likely to pursue comedy and be discovered due to the giant cities in those states seemingly being the centers of American comedy? There could be several overlooked funny people in the so-called “flyover states,” but without the great comedy infrastructure in cities like New York. So Iowans, tell your funny friend to buy a plane ticket and come to Stand Up NY to show us what they’ve got because we love humor from all over, even when it’s corn-related.

Tragedy + Animation = Comedy

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If you’re a fan of cartoons, you know that this past year has been a good one.  With shows like HBO’s Animals., Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, and OF COURSE Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, older fans of comedic animation have little to no reason to be disappointed.  These new and noteworthy cartoons aren’t great just because they’re funny, they’re great because, in addition to being absolutely hilarious, they’re also tragic, poignant, and heartwarming.  Do I take cartoons a little too seriously?  Yes.  But believe me, these cartoons are worth getting emotionally invested in.

    Animals., the two season HBO series created by Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano, explores New York City from the perspective of the animals who inhabit it.  In the show, animals are far more human than the few humans who appear in the series: they fall in love, deal with loss, and do things like run businesses and graduate from high school.  We meet a wide variety of characters, from cats who run a mob in Little Italy, to squirrels dealing with their respective parents getting married, to dogs interacting in a dog park that seems more like a prison yard.  Plus, the cast is packed with some of your favorite comedians and artists.  As you watch, you’ll recognize voices like Aziz Ansari, Eric Andre, Wanda Sykes, and even Usher.  Some moments in the show are a little grotesque, like when the rats who live in the Nostrand subway stop in Brooklyn grow up, have babies and die within the span of one episode, or when a bird who leaves her newly hatched baby to get some food is killed by a possum, but these moments are part of what makes the show so great.  It makes you see these animals as emotional, intelligent beings who you can’t help but sympathize with.  In the final episode of the second season (which feels like it’s probably the series finale) we get to see Mike and Phil, portrayed as rats, talk about following their shared dream to make a cartoon together.  I literally cried.  It’s incredible.

    Another must-see is the acclaimed Netflix series Bojack Horseman, created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and stars Will Arnett as Bojack, a horse, a has-been celebrity, and an alcoholic.  Yes, I said a horse.  In Bojack Horseman, sometimes people are humans and sometimes people are horses, or cats, or mice, or goldfish, or any other animal.  Unlike in Animals, these animals walk upright, wear clothes, and interact with humans regularly.  Like Animals, the series is funny because many of the characters are funny, but the events in the show are often tragic.  Bojack constantly is faced with his own dysfunctionality, insecurity, and intimacy issues.  The show also does a great job satirizing show business and the concept of celebrity.  In the fourth and newest season, which was released just a few days ago on September 8th, Bojack is forced, now more than ever, to deal with the repercussions of his actions, mend relationships he’s destroyed, and face his own inner conflicts.  Sounds funny, right?  Believe me, it is.  It’s also captivating as it’s serialized, so you’re constantly left wanting to know what happens next.  As if that weren’t enough the new season features the incredible New York comedian Aparna Nancherla.  I recommend binge watching the entire series on Netflix ASAP.

    Of course, I can’t write about cartoons without mentioning Rick and Morty.  It’s on Adult Swim, it was created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, and it’s one of the most fun shows to watch.  Rick is a genius scientist, a misanthropic alcoholic, and Morty’s grandfather.  Morty is a fourteen-year-old boy who probably shouldn’t be in any of the situations Rick puts him in due to the physical danger and emotional trauma, but he continues to go on adventures with Rick regularly.  One of the most remarkable aspects of the show is how well-crafted the world they’ve made it.  It exists half in Rick and Morty’s family’s suburban household and a half in other worldly intergalactic dimensions that Rick drags Morty into.  The show is also brutally honest about the tragedy surrounding many of its characters.  In the current season (airing now on Adult Swim), Morty has to deal with his parents getting divorced, while Rick has to find the strength to stay in the lives of his daughter and grandchildren, who he’s abandoned multiple times before.  The series also has a nihilistic quality and often causes characters to go through their own existential crisis.   Because the characters are able to travel into different dimensions, they often meet other versions of themselves in them, making them aware of how insignificant they are in comparison to the entirety of the universe.  You know, a comedy.  It’s tragic, it’s horrific, it’s violent, it’s emotional, it’s touching, it’s heartwarming, and it truly is absolutely hilarious.  Take my word for it.

    If you love these shows for their comedy, you’ll probably love our shows too.  Come out any night of the week to laugh and get riggity-riggity wrecked with us!

Where’s The Love?

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Ever feel like one person can ruin your big night? Two comedians, Jessie Jolles and Claire Burns, have just paired up to display the best and worst of love stories and tales as they face their own doubts about romance. Currently one half of the well-known Soren & Jolles comedy duo, in the past Jessie has worked for the Letterman Show and MTV; while Claire is part of two active indie improv teams and stars in her own web-series, Better If You Didn’t.

Leading up to the commencement of their new comedy show, No Such Thing As Love, Jessie Jolles and Claire Burns film themselves on a double date gone wrong, thanks to one griper. See if you can catch the red flags…

To avoid this awkward mess, come to us for a StandUp date this weekend! Special shows from Friday’s “A Night Literally Off Broadway” to Saturday’s “Bring It!” and discount late-night showcase. Check out our lineups and purchase tickets here: http://bit.ly/1M4sbCH, also check us out @StandUpNY.

Be sure to follow up with Jessie and Claire on their Facebook page to watch comedians tell tales of love and loss from their personal experiences, while the girls navigate their own disbelief in love.

R.I.P. Seeso

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On January 7th, 2016 NBCUniversal launched Seeso, a streaming service that catered specifically to comedy fans.  Seeso became an alternative to other streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, by focusing solely on comedy for the low price of $3.99/month.  On August 9th, 2017, only 18 months after its debut, Seeso announced on Facebook that the website will be “shutting its comedy doors” later this year.  This was sad news for many of Seeso’s subscribers as the service has become a home to many original series, some of which have acquired devoted fan bases and cult followings, as well as many classic comedies that aren’t available on any other streaming service.  Seeso had become the place to find coveted content, like early episodes of Saturday Night Live, Canadian sketch comedy shows Kids In The Hall and Monty Python.   In addition to these renown, well-loved series, Seeso has also become a platform for some unconventional original content.  Here are some Seeso originals that we’ll be missing the most (in no particular order):
1. The UCB Show
The UCB Show, is a sketch and stand up show filmed live at the UCB theater in L.A., and hosted by the founders of UCB (or the Upright Citizens Brigade), Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh.  The UCB Show featured performances that, until now, were only available to those who could go to a UCB theater to see a show.  These included sketches, stand up, and character performances, all taped live and in front of an audience and all hilarious.  If you like live comedy, but don’t like leaving the house, this is a show for you.
2. The Night Train with Wyatt Cenac
The Night Train started as a live stand-up show in Brooklyn, hosted by Wyatt Cenac and frequented by other local and visiting comedians.  The best thing about it being put on Seeso was that the show was recorded and made available for streaming without losing anything.  Each episode runs almost 90 minutes, so the sets are not cut down to fit into a 30-minute slot with commercials on a cable network.  This made Night Train a gold mine for stand up comedy, and Seeso made said gold mine available nationwide.
3. Cyanide and Happiness 
Cyanide and Happiness started as a wildly popular internet based comic strip and youtube series.  It’s a great example of something Seeso did really well: figuring out what people like and giving it a platform.  The comic was turned into an animated TV series on the streaming service and is well-regarded by fans of the original comic.
4. Besser Breaks The Record
Unlike the other shows mentioned in this list, Besser Breaks The Record isn’t a series.  It’s Matt Besser’s original comedy special, which takes place at the UCB theater in L.A. and is absolutely hilarious.  Besser attempts to and usually breaks records such as “most jokes in one minute” and “most jokes told in one minute while eating.”  You have to see it for yourself, trust me.
5. Take My Wife
Personally, I think Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher’s semi-autobiographical series Take My Wife will be the hardest to say goodbye to.  The first season of the series follows the two comedians, who play themselves, as they navigate the world of comedy and their relationship.  Not only is Take My Wife hilarious, charming, and captivating, it’s also pretty groundbreaking.  To see two queer women (played by ACTUAL QUEER WOMEN) being intimate on screen in a way that’s not overtly sexual is refreshing, to say the least.  Not only is the plot revolutionary, the production is too.  The Take My Wife team made a point of hiring queer actors to play queer characters, which doesn’t happen often in the modern TV industry.  The show itself is charming, funny, romantic, and definitely worth watching before it’s gone forever.
Rest in peace Seeso, comedy fans everywhere will miss you.

Comedians Playing Dramatic Roles

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Popular comedians are often seen in comedic movies and TV shows, but every so often we’ll see one star in a dramatic role. It may seem surprising at first, but it doesn’t take much to realize that many comedians are dealing with the same dramatic themes in their humor as are found in serious movies.

 

Kristen Wiig in Skeleton Twins

Kristen Wiig became popular as a prominent cast member of Saturday Night Live and went on to star in the hit comedy Bridesmaids. She also had smaller supporting roles in movies like Knocked Up, Semi-Pro, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, all comedies. When Wiig did The Skeleton Twins with fellow SNL alum Bill Hader, it was a surprising but well-done turn as they both pulled off dramatic acting like seasoned pros.

 

Steve Carell in Little Miss Sunshine

Since 2006 when Little Miss Sunshine came out, Steve Carell has starred in multiple dramatic movies like Foxcatcher and The Way, Way Back. However, many people remember Carell’s role as the suicidal Uncle Frank to be his first dramatic breakthrough, as up to that point his big credits had been from The Daily Show, The Office, and movies like Anchorman and The 40-Year-Old-Virgin. It shows that as much as Steve Carell can bring the laughs, he can also bring the crushing sadness of a suicidal gay Proustian scholar rejected by love.

 

Mo’Nique in Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Before Precious, Mo’Nique was popular mainly for her stand-up and role in TV show “The Parkers.” Her portrayal of the cruel and abusive Mary Lee Johnston, mother of Precious, earned her an Academy Award and credit for being able to imbibe even the most horrible of characters with a level of humanity.

 

Sarah Silverman in I Smile Back

Sarah Silverman is widely known for her stand-up comedy and has had a slew of supporting comedy roles, which is perhaps what makes her role in I Smile Back even more hard-hitting. She plays a suburban wife with a seemingly good life, but is dealing with mental health issues and destructive behavior. Silverman herself has said that the role took a lot for her emotionally, and watching the movie, one can see why.

 

Much of comedy draws from the same material as dramatic stories. If you’d like to see how it works, check out a show at Stand Up NY.

Satirical News on the Web

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Looking for a solid, low-commitment laugh and to avoid the real news at the same time? Satirical websites are great for two things: you don’t have to get through eleven seasons of episodes to feel satisfied, and the funny ones are really funny (if satire’s your thing). To be clear, this is not fake news in the pretending-to-be-actual-journalism-and-tricking-you-with-malicious-intent sense, but rather the it’s-a-joke-and-hopefully-you-recognize-that sense.

 

The Onion

You’ve heard of it. America’s Finest News Source churns out witty and humorous and funny and comedic and even humorous comedy news spoof material. It started out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has bloomed into a beautiful and occasionally controversial news satire media company. It can be both smart and intentionally stupid and is a front-runner in the satirical news game.

 

The Daily Mash

Fancy a crumpet with your satirical bangers and mash? The Daily Mash, which sounds a lot like the Daily Mail, is a satirical news source from across the pond. It’s similar to The Onion, but it also has an advice column titled Agony aunt, and even a dating network titled Daily Mash Dates, although I’m not sure how legitimate that is. Check it out, and maybe make a fun comparison list of which of the two most culturally similar countries in the world, the U.K. and the U.S., is funnier. Fun!

 

Clickhole

There’s nothing like it. Clickhole’s voice is so unique and difficult to nail that it’s funny simply due to it reading like utter nonsense sometimes. The website is a parody of the Internet, especially the click-bait articles that populate the bottom of screens and the inane, often ridiculously subjective viral media that seems to dominate so much of the web. It churns out viral articles that you’ve probably seen on Facebook or somewhere else, but have at the website!

 

McSweeney’s

This one is so niche, it might just be satirizing one specific Brooklyn book store/human charcuterie board, and I am here for it. The aesthetic is its aesthetic, and reading McSweeney’s is like getting lost while walking on a straight cobblestoned path to a millinery where a whimsical little shopkeeper pins on you a button with a fun little phrase, for free. Neato!

 

The Borowitz Report

The Borowitz Report is not a standalone website, but rather a subset of the New Yorker, in which the magazine’s resident satirist Andy Borowitz writes New Yorker-level articles that are specifically “not the news.” It’s not as prolific as the other sites, but each article is packed with some real good funnies. Reading the Borowitz Report is not only entertaining but at the end of each article, you get to do the kind of haughty, all-knowing laugh that until recently was reserved only for first class customers about to send back their crap quality complimentary champagne.

The Only Way to Have an Opinion

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When it comes to people, places, and things, there can only be two extremely opposing views and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. Sometimes, my opinions are so powerful and unsupported by fact that I barely have the mental strength left to summon the words that would describe my indescribable emotions towards these issues, and I am left a screaming, sweaty mess that sputters out vague syllables in an attempt to piece together a sentence.

So to avoid another trip to the hospital being mistakenly treated for stroke, I created a couple fill-in-the-blank phrases to immediately voice each little gemstone that pops into my mind about large groups of people I have generalized using one personal experience, two subjective ideas, three superficial details, and four more things that are definitely not facts. Try them out! All ________ are ________, I hate it when _______ always _______, and every time _______s _______ , I want to ______ my ______.

I have found that these statements work for both sides of The Issues, but only one of those sides (my side) is the correct side. The reason I love having my Fancy Fill-Ins at the ready is that last week I only popped seven blood vessels instead of the usual thirteen. In conclusion, the earth is flat, there are seven tgszdsf for every hfbj, and I have been constipated for 80,000 years.

 

This article is sponsored by Middle Earth, The Eightfold Path, and People of Various Heights.