We’re gonna go ahead and guess it’s probably been a while since you’ve visited a church (unless you were enticed by the Jesus karaoke at that new “hipster” Bushwick church, that is). But tomorrow night Lucy Cottrell and Catherine Cohen will make it worth your while. The comedian-artists are hosting a New Age-like ritual (otherwise known as a comedy show) at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah in Greenpoint.
“If you really think about it…you…really is…all around…” beckons their invitation. In this era of self-care as religion, the show riffs on positive thinking blandishments and inward-looking “spirituality” with soothing comedic pronouncements on the mysteries of life and the power of the inner journey.
Set up like a cross between a variety show and a religious ceremony (complete with a donuts and orange juice table nodding to Cohen’s childhood church memories), “the whole thing will feel like a convocations and each guest [aka comedian] will give a sermon, whatever that means to them,” Cohen said.
She and Cottrell, playing New Age experts who “met in a puddle of light where they both remembered being born,” plan to dress up in robes and headsets (like a cross between a tarot reader and a megachurch preacher) and there’ll be live music and dancing, some communion, a few prayers, and of course, plenty of jokes. The list of performers includes comedians Owen Bates, Bowen Yang, Zach Mandeville, Steven Markow, Eudora Peterson and Tessa Skara. (Unlike most cult scams, they are not charging admission.)
Instead of bumping into each other in a puddle of light, the two actually met in an improv class about two years ago, and have become frequent collaborators (tonight they’re both performing in It’s a Guy Thing at Over the Eight, a monthly comedic lecture series about all the stuff girls just “don’t get”).
Cottrell, an Andy Kaufman awards finalist, likes to make videos that straddle art and comedy (the “An Evening of You” characters and promo videos follow a similar trippy vein as her “today’s today” “guide 2 modern living” video tutorial series). Cohen is a regular at the Upright Citizens Brigade and involved in a rotation of monthly sketch and standup shows, like New American Comedy, a growing collective in North Brooklyn.
For “An Evening of You,” the two liked the idea of playing with an “expert dummy” kind of character, drawing inspiration from modern cult-like groups, like Superstar Machine. Cottrell said she tries to model her voice and mannerisms off a “deeply felt sincerity combined with being a total expert of the stars and science.”
Many touches in the show also weave quotidian concerns into the mystical realm–“spiritual” songs are printed on the backs of debt collection letters. Cohen might read from the holy text of “The Guy Who Ghosted Me.”
“It’s like combining the totally ordinary with something magic and bigger,” said Cottrell. “Which, to me, is like is the whole New Age thing—seeing something very small and asking: What does that mean in the grander scheme of things?“
“And I think it’s also about taking everything as sacred and yourself as very important and powerful,” added Cohen.
But don’t mistake their satire on spirituality for straight cynicism. All of their mocking is in good fun. One of Cohen’s favorite modes of comedy, after all, is “making fun of stuff that I actually like but that seems silly.” And both say they are easy victims to spiritual clickbait, sometimes falling down a web-hole of astrology readings.
“I find that with all these horoscope and New Age stuff, I really do just have a genuine attraction to that. That’s totally a sincere interest,” explained Cottrell.
“In the show there’s so much sarcasm and irony going,” Cohen added. “And there’s layers of it that you’re trying to find out what’s real and what’s true. And we’re trying to share something we actually love, and doing it in this fun way.”
She paused. “I mean, I just bought a crystal. What’s not to love?”
And Evening of You, Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah, 129 Russell Street, by McGolrick Park.