“Beautiful” is not the first word that comes to mind when you step into the back room at Bar Matchless. But that’s how comic Nimesh Patel affectionately describes the dark, brick and concrete space that houses a small stage with the lonely bones of a drum kit and a couple guitar amps sitting silently on top. As host of the free Monday night show Broken Comedy, Nimesh tirelessly works the room every week.
Though he lives in Hell’s Kitchen, Nimesh is also a regular at Matchless, right on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The after-party sees comics, friends, and straggling audience members move to the still-divey but definitely nicer front room for drinks into the early hours. Says Nimesh, “It’s like Cheers but black. With an Indian guy. And white kids.”
Originally, Broken Comedy was the brainchild of comic Mike Denny, who brought on pals Nimesh and Michael Che. Together, they created a chill, party vibe. As underground as it seems, the show has seen several heavy hitters drop in, like Aziz Ansari, Judah Friedlandler, Todd Barry, and Hannibal Buress. And then there’s co-founder Michael Che, a full-time writer for Saturday Night Live who’s appearing in an upcoming Chris Rock film. Following in Che’s footsteps, Nimesh was just named one of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch.”
Nowadays, Che is a special guest at Broken Comedy because, says Nimesh, “He’s busy being famous.” And Denny is a regular performer. Meanwhile, Nimesh has stepped-up as sole master of ceremonies in a room that’s matched by no other.
I’ve done comedy in shitty, dank basements with beer kegs everywhere. This is a dedicated space. When it’s lit right, it looks awesome.
There’s only nine seats. A lot of times people won’t take those seats because they’re afraid they’ll get spoken to [by the comics]. So we say, these are VIP seats, and they get free shots. I mean, there’s no velvet rope, and most of the time those seats are just wooden and wobbly. But it’s just more about that party feel.
Matchless is a rock bar, and they have rock shows in the back. We don’t know what else to do with the drums [onstage]. Inside the bass drum is a wine soaked pillow that looks like there’s blood on it. That’s always a laughing point for first-time comedians. They’re like, “How the fuck?”
The problem with the lights is that they’re made for a rock show. They’re super bright. It’s just another thing that people will laugh about and remember. A comic will say something like “I feel like I’m under a fuckin’ French fry lamp.” That’s our show.
Some weeks there’ll be super uptight Brooklyn fucks who are just like, “We’re not laughin’ at shit. We just here to stare.” And then other times it’ll be Brooklyn awesome people…It might be just stereotyping Brooklyn people, but more often than not, there are bearded white dudes in plaid shirts and girls who think not-matching is cute. But it’s such an eclectic crowd from week to week.
I don’t know if there’s another venue where comedians come hang out. There’s no politicking going on. No cliques. Everyone is a friend. If it’s a really crazy show, we’ll stay in the backroom and just play music and party and dance and hang out. I like to see it as an afterschool program for late-night comedians.
This is like home. A lot of people only get up once a week at a show. I’m happy that I have a place where I can do comedy guaranteed every Monday. If people don’t call it Broken Comedy, they call it “that show at Matchless.”
The funniest things have never been said onstage. It’s always been between two comedians sitting next to each other just bullshitting about some shit that they can only rap about. I feel like a lot of those times have happened here. Those relationships have been built here.
A lot of us became better friends because of the drunken conversations we’ve had here. We bullshit with each other. Like Seaton [Smith], Jermaine [Fowler], Che, [Kevin] Barnett, Jeffrey Joseph or whoever else. Everyone has that “Hey, remember that talk we had at Matchless that one time?”
It’s like The Max from Saved By the Bell but with alcohol and people hanging out and cursing at each other. It depends on who’s here, but if Che’s here, he’s usually Zack, and I’ll be Slater or Screech or something. Denny never hangs out.
I have this theory that everyone’s life is at 80% at the most. There are five things in people’s lives: your love life, your money or job, your passion, your family, and your health. And at the very most, you’ll only have four out of five things, no matter what. Right now, my family’s doing great; I’m healthy; I have a girlfriend who I like a lot; comedy’s going cool – I’m never going to be happy where I’m at because comedians are never happy – but I’m enjoying the process.
The bartenders know me. The bouncer knows me. People associate me outside of Matchless as the guy who runs a room at Matchless. I’m here from 8 til 2 every Monday.