It’s day 1 of the New York Comedy Festival, The Laugh Button is all over the city covering the best in comedy the big apple has to give. The first night is a doozey too with 7 stops all over the city. From Caroline’s, to the Comedy Cellar at the Village Underground and even some time over in Brooklyn, we are everywhere all week long here’s how our first night panned out.
MODERN COMEDIAN @ UNION HALL
New Yorkers filled out Brooklyn’s Union Hall Wednesday night to see the first (and hopefully not last) Modern Comedian Live show. Host Scott Moran, the creator of the beloved web-series, provided a night full of great comedy with the help of his former film subjects. Phil Hanley started it all showing off his fine crowd work skills, tying in perfectly with his season 3 episode. After Hanley, Ted Alexandro took to the stage and explained the difference between new and old New York, sweet Beth Stelling was as sweet as expected, Sara Schaefer affirmed that no matter what anyone says we shouldn’t f*ck around with our phones on planes, and Bonnie McFarlane redefined “feminazi” (we all got it wrong). As unannounced surprise guests, Subhah Agarwal and Andy Haynes dropped in to talk about cleanses and romance respectively before passing off the mic to Ben Kronberg. Trusty joke book in hand, Kronberg justly capped the stand-up portion of the night off in style with classic one-liners and one hell of a rap to completely blow the audience away.
After the stand-up, Moran screened never before seen footage of Colin Quinn going over his infamous JFL keynote speech, and a snippet of Robert Kelly re-telling a less flattering (but of course hilarious) story about Quinn. And as this show is Modern Comedian Live, it had to end with an episode of MC. The newest episode, set to be released later this week, featured Rich Vos talking about addiction and recovery. As a super fan of the show, it was an amazing treat to watch it on the big screen with a group as opposed to a little laptop. The entire show was very well executed, and flowed smoothly. Each comic delivered a wonderful set in their own style. If you have a chance to see any of them on your own, jump on that opportunity. – Olivia Cathcart
COMICS TO WATCH @ CAROLINE’S
Heading to Times Square to catch the New York Comedy Festival’s 4th Annual “Comics to Watch” Showcase. The show was hosted by Jonah Ray and consisted of the ten finalists of the “Up Next” CC: Certified Talent Search competing in front of a packed Caroline’s on Broadway crowd for a chance to win a performance slot on a Comedy Central Stand-up series, a Comedy Central live tour, a Comedy Central Records release, a guest DJ stint on Comedy Central Radio on SiriusXM and more!
While Randy Liedtke had some incredible one-liners and Joe Pera kept it extremely awkward, Dave Thomason had the line of the night about ska music. vote. Other new faces from the night included Tone Bell, Nimesh Patel, Jenny Zigrino, and Ali Siddiq. A nice surprise to the end of the night was the sniper himself Nate Bargatze dropping in to perform at the end of the night as audience voting was happening. The show will air online next week and you’ll be able to help decide the winner by voting at cc.com/upnext. Once that’s done a winner will be crowned. We can’t wait to see what is to come from this fresh batch of new comedians! – Tim Hager
COMICS GIVE BACK @ GOTHAM COMEDY CLUB
One of the first shows of the week was Comics Give Back – a social benefit uniting comics across traditional and digital platforms in order to raise money for the charity ‘Malaria No More’. This particular NYCF show was also part of 24 hour digital comedy telethon with all-star lineups from other venues around the globe. All shows were streamed live in their entirety by Dailymotion.
While Maria Bamford was an unfortunate no-show last night, Gotham packed the house and delivered surprise sets by Reggie Watts, Rhys Darby, and Gina Brillion in addition to the scheduled lineup – Eugene Mirman, Paul Mecurio, and headliner Jim Breuer. Eddie Brill was a clever host as he jumped between the crowd in the club and also those watching the live feed. Standout sets of the night belonged to Reggie Watts for his anti-malaria music/comedy mashup, Jim Breuer’s family trip to Africa vs. Great Adventure’s Wild Safari and Paul Mercio’s crowd work with a super festive elderly bunch. – Chris Elles
HERsterical @ THE PIT
The PIT showcased several top notch female comics and even a female improv team in a show called HerSterical. Those preforming were Nikki Glaser, Alyse Kenny, Jackie Singer, Gilda’s Girls, Marina Franklin, Vanessa Bayer all with Cristina Cote as the host of the evening. The show was a lot of fun and every comic was very funny. The earlier comics seemed to have a little more of a tough time with the pretty up-tight audience but still got good laughs. Gilda’s Girls got some great laughs and brought a fun dynamic to the show, mixing it up with some improv. Wrapping up the show, Marina Franklin killed it. The audience quickly fell in love with her and finally seemed to have let their guard down.
Last up was the headliner, Saturday Night Live’s very own, Vanessa Bayer. The audience was very excited to see the SNL star preform, snapping pictures and cheering loudly as Vanessa walked on stage. Bayer crushed it too. She was hilarious, telling jokes about being a camp counselor, the TV show Friends, and even telling jokes about having leukemia growing up. I know, it sounds impossible to make funny jokes about leukemia but she did.
A solid night The PIT. The audience left the show laughing and wanting more. Also, a majority of the proceeds went to Gilda’s Club NYC, a charity for cancer patients. It was a great time for an even better cause. – Phil Rothermich
HANNIBAL BURESS @ NYU SKIRBALL CENTER
Though originally from Chicago, Hannibal Buress has become a true staple in New york City stand-up. From regular appearances at venues like the Bell House, to his weekly night at the Knitting Factory, he continues to maintain a consistent presence here. Thus, it seems fitting for Buress to help kick off NYCF. Will Miles and Clark Jones, both Chicago natives as well, warmed up the crowd for Buress’ nearly hour and a half set. Beginning with some familiar material, Buress slowly eased into some more obscure bits. Further into the set, he began to employ sound cues into his stories. He deconstructed T.I. lyrics, playing verse by verse for the audience. He even closed with some music of his own. After inviting a group of ballerinas on the stage, he performed his infamous “Gibberish Rap.” It was pretty much exactly what it sounds like, some of the only audible word being about wearing socks. Though perhaps one of his more bizarre performances, Buress set the scene for the week to come with a preview of new, three-dimensional material. – Jeanette Wall
MATT BRAUNGER @ UCB
The Upright Citizens Brigade is a mecca for improv and alt comedy in New York. However, the small theatre is an odd place for stand-up, with the bright lights making it hard for the comedian not to see the audience. But Matt Braunger didn’t let that phase him, opening his 60 minute set by comparing the experience of being able to see everyone in attendance to receiving a five year chip at an AA meeting. From there, Braunger delivered a set that showcased his tight comedic flow and skill at telling the bizarre scenarios of his past with hysterical detail. Whether it be sharing how his dad thinks Daft Punk was singing “Good Luck its Mexican Rugby” or recalling the time he was roasted during BINGO night, Braunger left the UCB audience in tears. Also leaving a strong impression on the crowd was Randy Liedtke, whose short but sweet opening set showed he has potential to be the next big thing in the alt comedy scene, or at least a top contender for Comedy Central’s Up Next talent search which he performed at earlier in the evening. – Zach Shaw
RIOTCAST LIVE @ COMEDY CELLAR AT THE VILLAGE UNDERGROUND
The Village Underground served as homebase for the Riotcast crew the entire evening as they began the night with a live taping of Robert Kelly’s podcast You Know What Dude? with some live jokes from each of the show’s regulars then into their traditional podcast talking. While we missed the live podcast, we caught the show’s airing and we’re bummed that we did. For it was one of the craziest podcasts that Kelly & crew had. Because the show ended with Bobby and Louis J Gomez getting pretty intimate with some oral sex simulation on stage (that’s our nice way of putting it). After the podcast, a few hours later the rest of the Riotcast crew showed up for a night of stand-up. Hammerfisting’s Louis J. Gomez hosted the night which kicked off with The News Whore’s Mandy Stadtmiller‘s storytelling about moments of her love life ending with the reading of a reader letter. After Stadtmiller ended her set, Gomez brought up Rich Vos (My Wife Hates Me) who got the crowd back into a the laughing spirit. Then it was time for Davey Mac (Davey Mac Sports Program) who is known to be the worst comedian ever.
Bonnie McFarlane (My Wife Hates Me) dropped in to give her perspective of being a parent. Then Dan Naturman showed up because he loves us all. Riotcast co-owner Robert Kelly then took the stage to talk about how his live has changed since having a child and giving the audience a sincere thanks for their support of the podcast network. They to wrap the night of fun, Colin Quinn took to the stage, part to tell some jokes, other parts to rag on his friends that are part of Riotcast and the NYC comedy scene in general. Quinn it the yoda of the bunch and there’s no better way to end a night of NY comedy than hearing from the master himself. – Matt Kleinschmidt