There are maybe more comedians in New York City than anywhere else. And while material can vary a lot, stand-ups tend to have similar backstories, or at least in what they feel like dishing. But Elsa Waithe is a comedian like not many others. Sure, she’s a transplant from Virginia who said she “dropped everything” and moved here to “follow my dream.” She’s also of the opinion that “comedy quite literally saved my life”– another common story. But instead of squeezing her way into the big clubs, Elsa is carving out a place for under-represented comics, something she considers part of her work as a civil rights activist.
“Are there any white people here?” Atheer Yacoub asked the audience last night at The Experiment Comedy Gallery. “Can I hide behind you until this election is over?”
Yacoub played host for Hilarious Muslims: a Patriotic Stand-Up Show, the second all-Muslim comedy showcase at Williamsburg’s newest DIY comedy venue, which caught a wave of viral attention recently when owner Mo Fathelbab introduced the “Donald Trump Special” last Friday.
While DIY music venues are pretty much done for on the waterfront, a new independent comedy club– run by comics, for comics– has popped up amongst luxury housing and sprawling new developments in Williamsburg. The Experiment Comedy Gallery isn’t located inside a gritty warehouse, but this former furniture store is an equally barebones kind of deal (for now anyway), save for a monochromatic psychedelic window mural.
The space is much closer to the Silent Barn than it is to, say, Caroline’s– and that’s very much intentional– the founder Mo Fathelbab and his artistic director, Eliana Horeczko, are trying to keep ticket prices at a minimum. “If there’s one word to describe what we’re really all about, it’s accessibility,” Eliana explained. “We’re really focused on giving people the opportunity to perform– like, all people, not just a small group.”