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Performance Picks: Conspiracy Puppets, Thomas Paine, Synth Improv

THURSDAY

(image via Paul Pinto / Facebook)

Thomas Paine In Violence
Now through November 18 at HERE Arts Center, 8:30 pm: $25

While Paul Pinto may be known by some for his work as a performer in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, he is also a highly interesting composer in his own right. In collaboration with director Rick Burkhardt, he has whipped up an electro-acoustic opera centering around founding father Thomas Paine and a surreal, dreamlike radio station from another planet. Paine, played by vocalist Joan La Barbara, is attempting to deliver various messages on economic justice while a raucous chorus of sound unfolds around him. The show in particular concerns Paine’s 1797 pamphlet Agrarian Justice, considered a precursor of basic income theory and planted seeds for ideas such as Social Security and taxing those who owned land in order to provide for those who did not.

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Performance Picks: Comedic Compliments, Native Satire, All the Feels

WEDNESDAY

(image via The Center for the Humanities)

This Isn’t Funny!: I, An Moron
Wednesday, November 8 at CUNY Graduate Center’s James Gallery, 7 pm: FREE

Comedy is a strange thing. Many write it off as merely jokes with little meaning, but comedy is one of our biggest and most pervasive cultural forces. So, be careful what you joke about, because hey, jokes do matter and it’s extremely easy to be very funny without tearing down marginalized groups. I see it happen literally all the time. Anyway, tonight you can see performance artist Dynasty Handbag perform their new work that riffs on “white activism” (#resist by buying this shirt about feminism!) and solo shows made by privileged heterosexual women with little self-awareness, which I also see happen all the time. After the performance concludes, the artist will be joined by Morgan Bassichis, Dominique Nisperos, Keisha Zollar, and moderator Bess Rowen for a discussion about the role of comedy in times of political unrest, and how one can utilize the genre to productively take on the establishment.

THURSDAY

(flyer via Union Hall)

Boast Rattle
Thursday, November 9 at Union Hall, 10 pm: $10 advance, $12 day of

Ah, roasts. No, I don’t mean cookouts or that ceremony where you put the whole pig in the ground and take it out after a while. I am talking about the weird comedic ritual of hurling insults in a way some take as complimentary, ultimately. In my opinion, it is too easy to resort to cheap shots in a roast. Unless maybe you are roasting a white man who does not have many redeeming qualities. In any case, at this show you needn’t worry about expecting to laugh at any cruel or dumb retorts. In fact, Boast Rattle is a night of fierce compliments. So, you can sit back and watch Jo Firestone, Josh Gondelman, Mike Drucker, Adam Conover, Shalewa Sharpe, and even Bizzy The Dog cook up their best words of praise to each other. Plus, this edition of the show is part of the New York Comedy Festival, so maybe you will feel fancier in the audience.

FRIDAY

(flyer via Ars Nova / Facebook)

Every Feeling I’ve Ever Felt
Friday, November 10 at Ars Nova, 8 pm: $15

When it comes to feelings, composer and musician Ellen Winter has many of them. So many, in fact, that she’s written an entire show to expose them all to you. Her one-night-only show at Ars Nova (where she also interned several years back) not only has a hefty dose of emotions all along the spectrum (and probably more than one or two tears), it also serves as a showcase of songs she’s written over the years, from renditions of punk songs past to new material from her upcoming solo album. With some rare actual good news coming from the most recent local elections and the inevitable advent of chillier weather and seasonal depression, I have also been feeling many types of feelings. It can always be a treat to experience them with a roomful of others, set to a handful of songs.

SATURDAY

(photo: Theo Cote)

Don’t Feed The Indians: A Divine Comedy Pageant
Now through November 19 at La MaMa, 7 pm (Sundays at 2 pm): $25, $20 students/seniors

One (and certainly not the only) group who has faced hundreds of years of oppression that still continues today is Native Americans. Though their land and livelihood is still largely disregarded today, illuminated by movements like that of Standing Rock and more, the struggles they face are not always splashed on the (virtual) front pages of the news. And when Native or Indigenous people are portrayed in fictional media, it’s equally uncommon that they themselves are the ones telling the stories or even playing the roles. That all gets turned on its head at Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective’s “greatest sideshow of Indigenous people you’ll ever see.”

Created by Murielle Borst-Tarrant of Spiderwoman Theater with music direction by Kevin Tarrant, Don’t Feed The Indians takes common Native stereotypes and subverts them in a satirical, musical night performed by actual Native artists. May the future only bring more and more work like this.

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Performance Picks: Stigma Unbound, Alaskan Journey, Moon Juice

WEDNESDAY

(flyer via The Juice / Facebook)

The Juice!
Wednesday, October 25 at Union Pool, 7:30 pm: $5 advance, $7 doors

What is The Juice? Is it pressed and does it cost $9 for some reason? I do not know about how pressing the situation is, but I do know that this juice costs $5 in advance and $7 at the door. It is also a comedy show hosted by Carmen Christopher, which seems more enjoyable than sipping some green and/or pulpy liquid through a straw, which we were recently reminded are bad. Tonight, the show welcomes stand-up from Liza Treyger, Casey James Salengo, Dan Licata, and Greta Titelman, and improv from John Reynolds, Zack Pearlman, Monique Moses, Meghan Strickland, Matt Barats, and Zach Cherry. If you’re already tired of all the spooky and Halloween-themed goings-on around, why not check out something loosely themed around uh, juice. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Nightcaps, Bars Become Barns, and Black Girl Magic

THURSDAY

Nightcap | by Ike
Thursday, October 19 at Joe’s Pub, 9:30 pm: $15

Sometimes you’ve had a long and hard week, and you just want to sit back in a comfortable chair and enjoy a nice nightcap. Whether this, to you, means a snug piece of headwear to pair with a matching set of PJs or a fine pour of neat whiskey, come Thursday night it means joining comedic performer Ikechukwu Ufomadu at Joe’s Pub for a night of special guests, gentle quips, live music, and more. As a host and performer, Ike has a demeanor and tone of voice that will simultaneously make you chuckle robustly and feel like a soft blanket is enveloping your very form. Joining him on this evening will be jazz singer Stephan Crump and singer-songwriter LOLO. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Chocolate, Non-Toxic Masculinity, Comedy for PR Relief

WEDNESDAY

(image via Chocolate Dances / Facebook)

Chocolate Dances’ Costume Party Tasting Performance
Wednesday, October 11 and Saturday, October 14 at Triskelion Arts, 8 pm: $30 advance, $35 doors

Sometimes, chocolate is paired with wine. Sometimes, ice cream. Sometimes, milk. Sometimes chocolate is eaten in groups, sometimes alone in a bedroom in large quantities in the dark of night. Less so is chocolate associated with dancing, but this show will almost certainly change that. Chocolate Dances is a company run by Megan Sipe, who is both a choreographer and a literal chocolatier. She has wisely combined these two things into a night that pairs dance performance with handmade chocolates, from decadent infused truffles to smatterings of cacao nibs. Plus, there will be colorful and fun costumes, and even some for the audience to try on, which might be a good idea in case you get chocolate on yourself, which is likely. I’ve seen Megan and her cohorts perform several times before, and tried her chocolates, and I must say you will be in for a treat. Literally and figuratively. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Lingerie, Cuddly Comedy, Trans Is Magick

WEDNESDAY

(image via Joe Rumrill / Facebook)

Little Garden Guys: An Evening of Comedy About Ducks and Rabbits
Wednesday, October 4 at Babycastles, 8 pm: $5

Joe Rumrill and Andrew Tisher are back with their series of comedy shows that are restricted to two topics and two topics only. Past ventures have been themed for frogs and lizards, and bats and rats. Though the weather is cooling and fall is upon us, the duo has chosen a rather cute and spring-feeling pair of critters for tonight’s comedic fodder: ducks and rabbits. At Babycastles, you’ll see Eudora Peterson, Tony Zaret, Max Wittert, Ana Fabrega, Eliza Hurwitz, Joe Pera, and Becky Krause perform material exclusively about those aforementioned ducks and rabbits. While there’s no knowing what they’ll have prepared for you, one thing is certain: it will be about ducks and rabbits. Keep Reading »

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Ex Habitus Tells A Queer Tale of Privilege and Podcasts

Derek Christopher Murphy, Renee Rises (photo: Jo Chiang)

Nowadays, the latest form of media to stir up a craze is also probably the most simple. Podcasts are becoming more popular than ever, allowing anyone anywhere the chance to hear people jabber on about anything from carnal desires to hyper-niche political in-jokes. Some fund their ventures through services like Patreon, others insert mid-show interludes hawking mattresses and web design platforms for advertiser money.

New satirical play Ex Habitus, written by Lilla Goettler and Katie Hathaway and presented as part of the inaugural Corkscrew Theater Festival, gives a behind-the-scenes look into the world and drama of this auditory media form. While it’s billed as a take on “millennial podcasting,” don’t expect any complaints about killing industries. There’s not even one mention of avocado toast. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Cavemen Presentations, Bodily Explorations, Socialist Talents

WEDNESDAY

(image via The Creative Independent / Facebook)

What Is A Body?
Wednesday, August 30 at 58 Kent Street, 7 pm: FREE

What is a body? Well, that’s a good question. For one, it’s a sack of flesh with some organs in it. But it’s also so much more. This performance and panel discussion delves into the inherent relationship that live performance has with bodies. If you make something and perform it yourself, the way your body exists, moves, and functions affects how that performance happens. Additionally, the societal constructs regarding bodies and how they should act and appear will affect the audience’s perception of the performance. Is there a way to prevent or subvert this? Performers Erin Markey, Neil Goldberg, and Jonathan Gonzalez will all show you some of their work, and then discuss what you’ve seen and how it relates to the big wide world of bodies. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Pizza N’ Jokes, Anime Burlesque, A ‘Folkloric Spectacle’

THURSDAY

(image via Tiny Hornets)

Tiny Hornets, Or, It Didn’t Have To Come To This
August 24-September 8 at 389 Melrose Street, 7:30 pm: $12

What is folklore? Who belongs to it, who disseminates it, and who decides what it looks like? That is what The Drunkard’s Wife, Craig Flanagin, and Normandy Sherwood are trying to figure out in their latest creation, Tiny Hornets, in which a guide introduces you to a slew of villagers and all their peculiarities. These villagers are all unique in their own ways, including one who may or may not be interested in the taste of flesh. And of course, folk isn’t folk without music and dancing, so there will be plenty of that too.

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Performance Picks: Demystifying Sex, Activist Storytelling, Adolescent Witchcraft

WEDNESDAY

(image via HERE Arts Center)

The Sex Myth: A Devised Play
August 16-20 at HERE Arts Center, 8:30 pm (Sunday at 4 pm): $35

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to state that most of America had either an awful sex ed or none at all. Sure, you can take to the internet in all its glory to learn a thing or two, but formal sex education programs are notoriously lacking. This has created a hush-hush attitude around carnal matters, which leads to shame, misinformation, sensationalism, and a whole host of other not-so-great stuff. A new devised show, The Sex Myth, uses real stories and experiences to expand conceptions of what is “normal” in bedrooms and bodies alike.

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Performance Picks: Bats N’ Rats, Comedy Music Fest, + More

WEDNESDAY

(poster by Jack Sjogren)

Little Gross Guys: An Evening of Comedy About Bats and Rats
Wednesday, August 9 at Babycastles, 8 pm: $5

The last time I saw Joe Rumrill and Andrew Tisher pay tribute to quirky creatures, it was at Little Green Guys: An Evening of Comedy About Frogs and Lizards. Though sadly no actual frogs or lizards were in attendance, the show went swimmingly (do lizards swim?) and it appears they are continuing on with this charming theme. This time around, they’re dedicating it to the little guys often misunderstood or feared by the human species: bats and rats.

The two hosts have assembled a mighty group to sing the praises and oddities of these furry and beady-eyed critters. Expect creative concoctions of all sorts from Patti Harrison, Ike Ufomadu, Alyssa Stohona, Phil Meister, Brian Fiddyment, and Joey Dundale. This may be the only time you see someone screaming at the sight of a rat in a positive and encouraging way. I was once walking and a rat scurried across the sidewalk and ran straight into my boot on his way to his destination. Maybe he was heading, slowly but surely, to this show. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Magicians, Flashlight Ghost Stories, and Queer Debauchery

WEDNESDAY

(flyer courtesy of Patrick Terry)

Wondershow
Wednesday, August 2 at House of Yes, 8 pm: $20

Ok. I know what you’re thinking. You want to see a magic show, but you don’t know where to go. Well, as it turns out there is one happening tonight. While you ooh and ahh over my magnificent mind-reading skills, Wondershow is gearing up to show you mind-bending tricks at the Bushwick venue with some of the bendiest bodies I’ve ever seen, House of Yes.

Wondershow is hosted by magician and mentalist Eric Walton. I would explain his work by relating it to someone else’s, but the event description calls him “incomparable,” and I don’t want a magic spell to be cast on me if I disobey. The show also features mind reader Eric Dittelman (of America’s Got Talent), knife-thrower The Great Throwdini, “Western variety arts” master Chris McDaniel, and ballerina/burlesque performer Aurora Black. For those ageless or nostalgic folk mourning the loss of the early 20th century burlesque and vaudeville shows that used to be so commonplace in areas like Midtown, surely you’ll be in for a treat.

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