Following my essay "Site-Specific Comedy" for AiA's June/July issue, this Comedy Agenda is a resource for readers looking to learn more about the bourgeoning art/comedy movement. Here are a few picks taking place over the next week, all featuring individuals and collectives I've been fortunate enough to see perform many, many times.
Wednesday, June 17, 8 p.m.
A standard visit to an inexpensive weeknight comedy show in Manhattan too often means painfully watching a dozen inexperienced white male comics recycle the same three minutes about masturbation and moving back in with their parents. Luckily, the bleeding edge comedy scene that's been bubbling up in Brooklyn and Queens has infiltrated Manhattan by skipping the mainstream comedy clubs altogether. These young comics are as at home in a gallery as they are at a nightclub.
"Babydungeons: True Stories of Second Life" promises to be anything but ordinary. Hosts Steven Markow and Andrew Ritchie are manic performers whose web-based video sketches would leave a casual SNL fan confused and broken. They've recruited a who's who of underground comics from the other boroughs for a night of jokes about the impending technological singularity, encrypted digital currency and pixel-sex dungeons. Staged at Babycastles, a co-working artist and gamer space, the show aims to demonstrate the nimbleness of the thinking Millennial's brand of comedy. Must-see performers include Ana Fabrega, Julio Torres and Alaina Stamatis. What these performers all have in common is a profound adaptability in their work, rarely repeating a set and almost always agreeing on a specific topic or angle to thematically link their diverse approaches to performance. All of this quality content is just $5, the same price it typically costs to watch an uncanny facsimile of your cringe-worthy college guy friend talk about why he can't get laid at UCB East.
Babycastles, 137 West 14th Street
Wednesday, June 17 through Wednesday, June 24
Half Gallery's Erin Goldberger has curated an exhibition of new video works by increasingly visible young artists like Jeanette Hayes, Joshua Citarella, Leah Dixon and Leo Fitzpatrick. In a former video store at in Chinatown, videos play on outdated televisions among new paintings by B. Thom Stevenson and Philip H. Ashley. Never one to rest, Goldberger has also curated multiple evenings of (mostly comedic) performances and screenings that all respond to TV and video as a medium.
Over the next week, be sure to check out: Andrea McGinty's YouTube Meditation with guest DJ Jayson Musson (June 17), Joe Kay's screening of The Beaver Trilogy (June 19), Ashoonk Movie Night (June 21), Bruce High Quality Foundation University's Shireen Ahmed's video class (June 22), yours truly's "Chopped, Except It's Art Chopped" (June 23), and 55 Gansevoort's Ellie Rines as she presents a viewing of Weekend at Bernie's (June 23). All events are free and open to the public.
NEW RELEASE, 60 Mulberry Street
Saturday, June 20, 7:30 p.m.
Toronto duo Life of a Craphead's Amy Lam and Jon McCurley are experts at crafting bizarre comedic performances that distort and dismantle funny man/straight man tropes. This month, they're artists-in-residence at Flux Factory in Long Island City, and on Saturday they're transplanting "Doored," a free monthly performance art and comedy show, from Ontario to Queens. Since 2012, Lam and McCurley have served equally as emcees and performers at "Doored" alongside dozens of outrageously funny art pranksters. Many of these artists met one another through a residency program at the Banff Centre in 2012 called the Experimental Comedy Training Camp, the very experience that set the stage for my essay in A.i.A.'s summer issue.
Lam and McCurley adapt their personalities and their jokes keenly to the venue or context in which they're performing, and the roster of performers for "Doored" at Flux Factory share like-minded approaches. Supporting acts include Canadian enfant terribles like abject sketch comedy group Fake Injury Party, stand-up wackjob Neil LaPierre, the brilliantly physical Bridget Moser, and several other friends all pre-approved as very funny. Following the performances will be a screening of Soda Jerk's Hollywood Burn and an ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) performance by New York's Allison Halter. For a sample of the way that critically engaged thinking can be downright hysterical, head to this free event. Life of a Craphead, along with the rest of the featured acts, will not disappoint.
Flux Factory, 39-31 29th St., Long Island City, Queens