Comedy is not a pursuit for the faint of heart, and that goes for audiences and comics alike. Lately, there’s been a widespread and mercilessly drawn-out public debate over what exactly counts as “offensive,” and how that may or may not be something quite separate from old-fashioned hate– you know, the classics, like racism, misogyny, homophobia. Meanwhile the term “safe space” has become so common, so misused and abused, that invoking it comes with some seriously heavy baggage that makes it almost impossible to use without infuriating some people and inspiring others to swoon.
F*@#d in the East Village
January 11-17 at The Wild Project, 7:30 pm: $20, $16 students/seniors.
The East Village isn’t what it used to be, I think we all know that. Samantha Fontana and Roger Manix especially do, so much that they’ve crafted a comedic play all about it. F*@#d in the East Village is one of those plays where two people play many characters, but in this case the show begins with only two people: a “recently dumped high school senior” who meets “her twentysomething gay man self in 2005.” Now that that pattern of logic has been established, the audience will go on a journey back in time to the East Village of the past, only it’s a little weirder and more surreal. Not in the sense of there being more avant-garde art spaces, but like, in the sense that the Astor Place Cube is granted the ability to speak. You know, just average stuff like that. Fontana is a born-and-bred East Villager, so this isn’t a mediation on “old New York” by people whose first interactions with the city included Duane Reades and Starbucks on every corner already.
Under the Radar
Wednesday January 4 through Sunday January 15, various showtimes at The Public Theater and other spaces: $20 and up
Ah yes, it’s that time again, when the slew of January performance festivals sail in every winter to overwhelm you with a seemingly endless supply of shows. One of these is The Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival, which presents a wide variety of music, performance, and more from artists based across the U.S. and all over the world.
Wednesday, December 28 at Throne Watches, 8 pm: FREE
Mary Houlihan, Joe Rumrill, Sam Taggart, and Julio Torres’s recurring comedy show Future Forms is a tasty treat, and probably one of the only shows you can say you’ve seen in a watch showroom. I mean, with the impending closure of spaces like Cake Shop, and DIY spaces getting all hush-hush for fear of getting shut down, perhaps we’ll all soon be watching shows in the aisles of grocery stores or something like that. Which could be fun, but the lighting leaves something to be desired.
The Perfect Play
Wednesday, December 21 at JACK, 7 pm: $15
Not much seems perfect in 2016, especially in these last few moments. However, at Clinton Hill art space JACK, experimental performance ensemble Banana Bag and Bodice will summon a crop of luminaries of the downtown theater and performance world in a grand attempt at perfection. If a pursuit of flawlessness makes your eyes roll into oblivion, let me clarify that what these folks are actually doing is staging their fourth annual adults-only musical weirdo version of the classic Nativity story. You know, the perfect child, the virgin birth, etc.? Perfect. There’s certainly a lot to unpack here. Particularly the virgin birth– I still have a lot of questions about that. But I trust that this merry gang of creators, who have also dreamt up concoctions like a Beowulf musical and an experimental piece on political prisoners scored by a soundscape of found objects like fishbowls and license plates, will do the whole thing justice. After the formal show, stick around for drinks and “special Christmas musical maneuverings.”
Wednesday, December 14 at The Rosemont, 9 pm: FREE
This event is for the later crowd, especially if you like to experience a show and a party all at the same time, in the same place. Queers, colorful folk, and nightlife crawlers alike will gather in jazzy Bushwick cocktail bar The Rosemont (opened by Trash Bar’s Aaron Pierce) for a night of lip-sync and general debauchery. The lineup, hosted by Andrew Ayres, includes ultra-flexible burlesque babe Apathy Angel, “vegan goddess” Slater G. String, photographer and performer Gypsy Hill, and “part dandy part showgirl” Nellee Dii. Rounding out the evening is Neon Music, spinning tunes all night. Performances begin at 11 pm, which is late enough to feel mysterious and nightlife-y but early enough for people to actually be conscious for them. Grab one of the Rosemont’s bespoke cocktails (or a beer and a shot) and prepare for a “Sexxxplosion.”
Let’s take a moment to talk about a strange and ubiquitous inhabitant of today’s internet landscape: the social media influencer. You know the type. Millennial. Self-described “lifestyle blogger.” Multiple Instagram posts per day. Perfect lighting. Radiant skin. Expensive clothes. Exotic locales. Thirsty for followers. #Grateful to be #blessed with such a strong #brand.
Wednesday, December 7 at Vox Bizarre, 8 pm: FREE
Vox Bizarre is a new Ridgewood-based “store and workshop” pop-up devised by four design labels: Casey Caldwell, TILLYandWILLIAM, Claire Fleury, and LACTIC. Aside from all creating unconventional and intriguing attire and accessories, the common thread that unites these labels is that they are interested in shedding binary gender classifications within fashion and developing pieces that are inclusive to all body types. In addition to selling their wares, they’ve planned a variety of community-based events, such as performances, workshops, photoshoots, and more.
Thursday, December 1 at The Annoyance Theater, 9 pm: $10.
Surely many of you have taken a crack at reading David Foster Wallace’s behemoth of a novel Infinite Jest; perhaps some have even gotten through the entire thing. Or maybe the idea of parsing through a book so large it could double as a weapon seems daunting, and you’d rather sit in a basement watching a comedy show that vaguely riffs on the novel but is set in a vaguely dystopian future where the NFL is in cahoots with the government. In that case, Brian Pisano and Sam Taffe’s sketch comedy play Infinite Jets may be the thing for you. Our current future prospects aren’t looking too hot, so might as well laugh at a made-up future before ours becomes all too real. The show comes as a double feature with Deep Space Live, a late night talk show set in space hosted by a man whose only friend is a robot.
Wednesday, November 23 at The PIT Underground, 7:30 pm: $5
It seems like a sensible enough idea to ready your stomach for the inevitable large amounts of food you are going to funnel into it come Thursday. Some may do this through going to the gym or going for a brisk walk. If that’s not your style, consider stretching out the old gut with some hearty laughter at The PIT’s night of comedy by an all-Latinx (for the uninformed, a gender-neutral term for Latina/Latino) lineup. You’ll be treated to stand-up, improv, storytelling, and other ways of spinning words in a humorous fashion. Plus, the event hints at “perhaps some delicious treats.” Whether this means metaphorical treats in the form of comedy or actual snacks, it sounds like a good evening to me.