This month marks the passing of 35 years since, in 1980, influential dork-rock gods Devo dropped their third and only platinum record, Freedom of Choice. Anew 33 1/3 book out by rock critic Evie Nagy describes this brief moment in time when the forces of a conservative shift were gathering in America and the pre-AIDS party was about to hit its peak. At the same time, people were increasingly hopeful when it came to technology and the possibilities it held for the future. Enter Devo, a band of brothers (literally– founding members included Mark and and Bob Mothersbaugh and Gerald “Jerry” and Bob Casale) whose mission was to call out the greater society for being a bunch of sheepish nitwits. The author, who’d interviewed Devo regarding their new album for Billboard back in 2010, was inspired by this unique moment in American history as well as a band that she said “there just isn’t really anything like them.”
I hate to say it, but I can sort of imagine Natasha Vaynblat, when she was Ms. Vaynblat, coming off at first as the teacher who could be walked all over. She’s nice, cute, and says things like “oh my gosh” with complete sincerity, but her unassuming nature belies her comic demeanor. During her four years as a teacher (she left the job in 2013, for comedy), Natasha loved to prank her students. In “United Federation of Teachers,” her first one-woman show at UCB Chelsea, the audience gets to see both her victories over troublemakers and her hilarious miscalculations, all of which remind me of the myriad reasons why I’ll never willingly put myself in charge of children. B+B spoke with her over the phone about her experiences and her new show.
Carolyn Castiglia for Right NOW! (Photo: Mindy Tucker)
A live late-night show premiering this Wednesday at the Slipper Room aims to “shine a light on women,” according to its host, comedian Carolyn Castiglia. The guests and supporting cast of Right NOW! will be women, and all the behind-the-scenes work will be done by women. With the occasional exception. “We have two guys on the first show,” Castiglia said. “One is black and one is gay. These are the voices that I relate to and these are the voices that right now—pun very much intended—I want to empower.”
Nation Lampoon magazine cover, Jan ’73 (Credit: National Lampoon)
I know I’m not the only one whose pre-adolescent mind was warped by National Lampoon and the cartoons of the New Yorker, so it’s a real treat to have seen documentaries about both at the Tribeca Film Festival.
On Sunday, Calvin Trillin kicked off a post-screening panel discussion about Leah Wolchok’s doc, Very Semi-Serious, by confessing that he had a “100 percent turndown record for cartoon ideas at the New Yorker.” Back in the day, aspiring doodlers would submit for 25 years before they were finally accepted, but the documentary makes clear that entry is no longer quite as forbidding.
If you haven’t heard of comedian Sue Smith yet, you likely will soon, because Time Out New York named her one of the 10 funniest women in NYC in 2014 and she’s coming out with an EP, Slutty Pretzel, on May 7 on The Experiment Comedy Network. Or maybe you met her in McCarren Park one recent Saturday when — as a member of UCB1, the Upright Citizens Brigade “news” team — she asked you to stick something up your vagina to save the world. We called her up to learn more.
Sally Burtnick and Brett Davis, co-creators of “The Macaulay Culkin* Show.” (Photo: The Macaulay Culkin* Show)
The fact that The Macaulay Culkin* Show has never had its namesake on stage doesn’t bother Sally Burtnick, the show’s co-creator. Since December 2013 when it debuted, it’s gained a reputation of being insane, and people have started caring about the show for its own sake. Despite the lack of Mac, the show’s had a huge year, with success neither she nor her co-creator Brett Davis could foresee. We rang her up to hear about it, and get a peek inside their upcoming performance, a staged reading of the screenplay Whenever Possible Forever, starring Jon Glaser.
Before you freak out, the East Village’s diviest tiki bar hasn’t changed immensely– but Otto’s Shrunken Head has revamped what Nell the bartender described as a floor that was “peeling off,” and apparently the source of that overpowering smell of urine. The new bright blue floor smells like fresh linoleum and has given Otto’s, which opened back in 2002, a new lease on not-smelling-like-piss-and-regret, something really quite fortunate for a bar where people get shamefully sloshed on Zombies and Singapore Slings. Keep Reading »
“Difficult People” waz here. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)
Looks like Louis CK might be coming back to the East Village — a sign near the corner of East 12th Street and Third Avenue indicates that his production company, Pig Newton, will be filming here next Wednesday. The new season of Louiestarts April 5.
Earlier this week, the comic sent fans a self-described “very long email from Louis CK,” about his new stand-up special and his love for comedy clubs like (in the Village) the Comedy Cellar, Boston Comedy Club and the Village Gate. It’s worth a read if you’re a comedy nerd, so we’ve pasted it below. Keep Reading »
Stop worrying about ebola and just be glad you aren’t on a cruise ship teaming with food-poisoned zombies. That’s the setting of a quirky, uproarious tale now playing at Under St. Marks. Keep Reading »
It’s that time again, folks. The time when the world’s most avant-garde and experimental theater types descend on the East Village and Lower East Side for a fortnight of moderately insane adventure know as the Fringe Festival. The 18th edition of the Fest will be deluging the metropolis with playful peculiarities from August 8 to 24. Highlights include The Mormon Bird Play, Fatty Fatty No Friends, Fuck You! You Fucking Perv! and much, much more.
Broad City fans, you might want to earmark this one. Split Personality is a weekly storytelling and comedy show hosted by husband-and-wife team Patrick Clair and Jiji Lee. Their basic formula is part slam-style open mic (during which anyone can put their name in a bag for a chance to perform a five minute true story or sketch character), and part curated show, featuring special guest performers from New York’s comedy and storytelling elite. August’s first offering will showcase the comedic genius of Chris Kelly, writer for SNL, Emmy nominee (for the above sketch), and one of the driving forces behind Comedy Central’s runaway success, Broad City(which began in 2009 as a “cult hit” web-series). Kelly will be joined by Joanna Bradley of Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, and laughs, no doubt, will be in plentiful supply.