The New York Comedy Festival is back in the big apple for it’s 11 incarnation bringing together some of the biggest names and most buzzed about comedy shows in the world. This past Friday saw one of those said shows rip through the Gramercy Theatre in full comedy force with the power of music to back it up. The Goddamn Comedy Jam, a show with more momentum than a meteor heading towards the planet earth, sold out to capacity and then some. The stand-up / live musical performance hybrid featuring the country’s top comedians is orchestrated by comedian-musician Josh Adam Meyers. Along with the Goddamn Band, formally Elemenopy, and roadie “Moshpit,” the anticipation for it’s New York City debut was the talk of town coming into the festival this year. The lineup this go-around included Bill Burr, Hannibal Buress, Iliza Shlesinger, Big Jay Oakerson, and Matteo Lane.
Burr, a big fan of the show, has been involved from the early stages out in L.A. helping give the show instant credibility and a place for him to showcase his love for the drums while performing some of his favorite 80’s songs from behind the kit. Most comedians involved opt for vocals, karaoke style, with the band and audience providing the back-up and energy to send the performance into the stratosphere.
The show kicked off with the maestro Myers whipping the crowd into a frenzy with a powerful performance of “Shout”, the Tears For Fears hit. Then after introducing the band, he brought out the first comedian of the night, Matteo Lane. For those of you new to the format of the show, the comedian comes out and performs a set of stand-up comedy capped off with a story that ties them to the song they are about to perform. Some comedians have vocal chops for days while others plow through with the help of the crowd allowing them to live-out their inner rock star no matter how on point they are from the singing perspective. Lane fits the former. After telling hilarious stories of his father’s disappointment that both his sons turned out gay, he broke out into a spot on rendition of Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You”.
Next up was Big Jay Oakerson. The comedian who’s been on fire as of late with a new show on SiriusXM Radio entitled The Bonfire, tapings for his new NBC/Universal project What’s Your F’in Deal taking place next week, and the webseries Lucky Loser on Comedy Central already underway. He worked the crowd with detailed descriptions of sex and the poor decisions of men with “full” ball bags. He then told a story about seeing The Deftones perform a cover song that inspired him to cover the cover. That cover was Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So”. It went off without a hitch.
Then it was on to Iliza Shlesinger, 2008’s winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing and host of former reality-based dating competition series Excused who has two successful Netflix specials War Paint, and this year’s Freezing Hot under her belt. She charmed those in attendance with her tale of the “Party Goblin” before presenting a story that saw her release inner Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler. She proceeded to then slay Aerosmith’s “Cryin'” complete with hair-whip on hands and knees. Mission complete.
Josh Adam Meyers then brought out Hannibal Buress. The comedian took full advantage of the band having the drummer deliver classic rim-shots to his one-liners early on in his set. Buress explained his experience of what it was like to join the “mile-high” club on a flight, but not the particular club you’d expect, but that of the club that has used the restroom for both its intentions for which it was designed. Then he took on another unexpected challenge, performing Elton John’s “Bennie and The Jets”. He admitted not knowing the words, but that was by design. It’s a song that most people don’t know the words to but can join in full force when the eponymous line kicks in. Hearing him wail “Bennie” over and over can never be unheard by those present. Hilarious none-the-less.
Appetite For Destruction in it’s entirety. With Meyers taking on the lead vocals, Burr rocked his version of the hit song “Paradise City.”
Then, in classic Goddamn Comedy Jam fashion, Meyers brought all of the nights participants back out on to the stage along with some comics from the New York Comedy Festival who happened to be in attendance. Joining those already on the bill were Roastmaster General Jeff Ross and Wayne Federman for a performance of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” The perfect sing-along to send those who experienced the night on their way. It was heart-felt and emotional for not only the show but the audience.
Bigger plans for The Goddamn Comedy Jam are currently in the works according to Meyers, who informed us during a taping of his upcoming appearance on The Laugh Button Podcast. So be on the lookout for that episode in the upcoming weeks as well as the GDCJ when it comes to your town.