“Honestly, I just wanted a festival and to throw a big party,” says Coree Spencer of her forthcoming Cinder Block Comedy Festival. As lighthearted as that seems, Spencer organized the festival on her terms in order to challenge the ongoing status quo in the comedy world.
Thursday August 25, 9 pm at Union Hall: $10
Hosted by Lacey Jeka and Kristen Buckels (Between Two Bushes), this show is stacked. I mean seriously, you’re telling me that you’ve got Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone– who by the way also host some great shows together— and Brett Davis, the cult-obsessed audience antagonizer, plus a great young man named Gary Richardson, all on the same bill?
Also, the show is only $10? And it’s on a Thursday and at a reasonable hour? Wait, there’s a flyer for it? Uh, yes please. Like, on all accounts. This show might only last one night, but, oh man, what a summer fling it will be.
Mentioning Gad Elmaleh’s residency at Joe’s Pub to my American friends was a weird experience. “He’s the most famous comedian in France!” I said, full of jingoistic pride. The embarrassed silence that ensued made me realize that my announcement didn’t quite have the expected effect. So I tried a different approach. “He’s like the French Jerry Seinfeld, you know. They’re actually good friends. He’s even been a guest on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
“Oh… Really?” was the politest answer I could get. But I saw in my interlocutors’ perplexed eyes that they had no clue who the hell I was talking about.
At 81 years old, D’yan Forest describes herself as a “young Betty White.” The octogenarian and veteran performer doesn’t mask her sexual conquests in grandma-speak. Indeed she speaks Millennial more fluently than some natives I know– she’s sex positive, has done her fair share of swiping left on Tinder, and is open-minded toward all kinds of people. Before I set off to the West Village apartment to meet D’yan where she’s lived since the ’60s, I phoned her and she assured me: “I’m very interesting, too, darling.” Click. It’s hard to argue with that: the multi-instrumentalist’s career spans at least three continents, and she can sing in nine languages. On top of all that, she’s now trying to hack it as a stand-up comic.
I was sitting in the Olive Tree Cafe, upstairs from the Comedy Cellar, flipping through Judah Friedlander’s new book. Largely single-panel cartoons, the book’s drawings run the gamut between The Far Side and The New Yorker, offering plenty of belly laughs and a few head scratchers. My favorites include one captioned, “Then one night, the dishes did Jeffrey,” a dark mass-jumper routine about a “building’s semi-annual suicide race,” and a sketch of where to meet women in Manhattan: yoga studios and $50 cupcake shops.