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The First Annual Indie Show Awards

Hey there.

As part of my function in the NYC Indie Comedy Community, I end up booking a lot of variety acts for shows I produce or help produce. I also get asked a lot for recommendations of who to book for shows. So I figured I’d put this together. It is entirely unscientific and based on whims and made up on the spot. You can agree or not.

And just in case you were wondering, there are MANY great groups and acts in the city to book. This is really just my opinion at one point in time, singling out certain people.

This doesn’t include The Stepfathers or teams or acts you’d rarely see at variety shows, only people who are or could be frequently seen on stage. People one could book easily.

So I hereby present: The first annual Indie Show Awards as created arbitrarily by me.

Enjoy.

***

BEST IMPROV TEAM (Large):
MULTIBALL

Runners-up: The Serling, Villain, Gulf Oil

Their motto is: no plans, never the same thing twice. I saw one show where Ian Stroud recorded the set he was doing with a go-pro strapped to his head the whole time and another set where Mark Vigeant showed the rest of his team his real, live penis. They have the right balance of people who are on teams at UCB and fun players who everyone enjoys, they show up consistently and always put on an entertaining show, sone of which are presentational and thematic, some of which are one scene played slowly. Very compelling and the easiest choice on this list. The runners up, it should be said are all excellent and consistently provide hilarious, involving shows, but no one does what Multiball does or really anything close.

BEST IMPROV TEAM (Small):
POWDER KEG

Runners-up: Pompadour, Three Dogs, Fuck Destiny (Oh Shit)

Again, like the previous award, individuality and voice counts the most for me. No one does what Powder Keg does. Their slow but very silly, deadpan style of play always cracks me up, as much an unironic deconstruction of improv comedy as it is an enjoyable show. Joe, Nathan and Eddie have a chemistry that can’t be manufactured or faked.

Pompadour is consistently funny, positive and enjoyable. Three Dogs have the same chemistry and enthusiasm at a higher speed. FDOS doesn’t perform very regularly but is very fresh and enjoyable.

BEST SKETCH TEAM: KINGMAKER

Runners-up: Kokomo, The Rolling Scones, The Hubbies

It’s not a coincidence that Mark Vigeant has two teams on this list. The man is unafraid to take chances, goes big with his choices and has an infectious positive energy to his work.

His duo sketch work with Dan Kenkel (Kingmaker) is fast and funny without being prop or tech heavy, things that can be difficult for an indie show to accommodate. It’s just a bunch of funny characters and sketches and non-sequiturs presented by two blazer-dressed best friends.

Kokomo has a great indie presence and a Will Ferrell-like star in Michael Delisle, Scones has a gonzo nerdy energy and also features Delisle as well as wild-card Pat May, The Hubbies are filled with enthusiasm and a kooky originality (one of their sketches is a poem about sex with Martin Luther King) but haven’t been doing as many shows recently.

BEST STAND-UP: MATT KOFF

Runners-up: Joe Pera, Brandon Scott Wolf, Brian Frange

This was the most difficult category to judge and there were MANY more stand-ups I would have liked to included as I’ve seen many excellent ones.

But the fact that Matt, originally a Magnet-trained improviser and currently a writer for The Daily Show, is so fucking good at stand-up and will randomly do your free show if you email him is criminally good and speaks to how nice of a guy he is.

I’ve seen him many times with a mix of fresh and old material and every time he crushes like some crazy mutant and then thanks you for doing the show. What a guy.

Joe is part of Powder Keg but as a stand-up brings that same originality and voice to the stage in a way that is immediate and a bit scary. BSW has a fine tune on his act and delivery that makes his job look effortless while digging in to himself. Frange, who is doing Montreal this year, is one of the smartest stand-ups out there, placing his opinions about news and government in a way that challenges us to be smarter while just being that funny.

BEST CHARACTER PERFORMER: FRANK HEJL

Runners-up: Chelsea Davison, Sebastian Conelli, Justin Tyler

Frank has honed his craft to a place now where his characters and impressions aren’t just funny but surgically accurate and well crafted to show you what his sense of humor is and what his target is. His videos have been circulating online but rather than rest on his laurels he’s constantly doing mics and small shows to hone and time new and old bits. His doggedness edges this one out.

Chelsea is hilarious, a young up-and-comer off to Montreal. Sebastian, my buddy, has more pure funny than anyone else at UCB right now. Justin’s energy and craft is evident every time I’ve seen him perform in a way that is very impressive.

BEST INDIE IMPROV SHOW: DESSERT CART: FULL FAT

Runners-up: Free Kittens, Howl Hour, The Hurly-Burly Show

At this point Mimi Fischer and Morgan Phillips who host Dessert Cart are the patron saints of indie improv here in New York City. Their Sunday late-night show is often the first exposure for new teams or a chance to put on rare combinations in a timeslot where otherwise people might not be available.

Their improv too is rich and silly in a way that is fun to watch and keeps the audience up at such a late hour.

Free Kittens is almost the longest running of the indie shows now other than Jerkface and Thank You Robot (correct me if I’m wrong) and consistently features high quality acts. Howl does a great job hosting an up and coming show with a lot of young stars. Hurly Burly has proven with their variety and commitment a worthy successor to the slot formerly filled by Scrambled Legs.

BEST INDIE SKETCH SHOW: BAKED GOODES

Runners-up: Bridge and Tunnel, Sketch Show: The Sketch Show

There should be more of these but sketch is hard and the teams don’t often stay together.

That said, Ian O’Keefe and his cast of collaborators has created something really excellent here that is rarely seen: a live sitcom, not an ironic presentation or deconstruction, but a real original fun thing. His integration of live music and sketch “commercials” between the character games and scenarios of the bakery really makes his show feel whole and complete in a way that most UCB or Magnet teams do not. There is clearly thought and a concerted effort (as opposed to scattershot or slapdash effort) going into these shows and that it is done outside the theater system with such quality is a testament to the cast and crew’s resolve.

SPECIAL MENTION: RED HOT VIDEO FUN TIME

There isn’t a category to fit this show but Micah, Jared and Drew have created something awesome and already super popular: a rollicking hella-cool party where people create and premiere their comedy web videos to a supportive audience. The fact that this well-run and evolving show encourages the sort of creation that any serious comedy person should be participating in is only underscored by the free drinks and the warm atmosphere.

THE TERRY WITHERS AWARD: JO FIRESTONE

When I was coming up, Terry Withers would do the craziest indie shows anyone had ever seen including weirdly self-righteous short form improv and direct mockery and antagonism towards the audience. His shows defied all convention so I dedicate this award to him and to the people who do shows and acts that defy convention.

The obvious choice for this mantle is Jo Firestone, a woman whom the mere mention of her shows (PUNDERDOME, Friends of Single People, The Incredible Game Show Showcase) inspires amazement and considerable confusion. Jo also does solo acts when booked that fit neither under the category of stand up or characters but veer more towards an interactive piece of funny and endearing performance art. She is a great get for a show and a boon to the community.

***

And that’s it for this time. I only listed things and people I had seen directly so shows I had heard about but have not a attended were not considered. Best Host and Best Musical Act, categories I’d intended, were not listed for lack of consistent performers I knew though I’d look at NANCY for funny songs and Evan Altshuler for solo good music.

Love to hear some thoughts or recriminations and congrats on your arbitrary awards.

Love,
Nick

emilyhoffman:

On Sunday I decided to take myself to the movies. It was a last minute decision and since it was a movie that would be inevitably disappointing I went alone.

I got on the subway. It was a semi crowded car and when I saw an empty seat I decided I would be better off taking it than trying to keep…

frankhejl:

My one man sketch show, HEJL IS OTHER PEOPLE, goes up for review again TONIGHT at 6pm at ucbtheatre NY (chelsea theatre)! Directed by michaelhartney! I will also be performing in Character’s Welcome at 8pm after the show. Check it out!

Frank is the best! Check it out.

frankhejl:

My one man sketch show, HEJL IS OTHER PEOPLE, goes up for review again TONIGHT at 6pm at ucbtheatre NY (chelsea theatre)! Directed by michaelhartney! I will also be performing in Character’s Welcome at 8pm after the show. Check it out!

Frank is the best! Check it out.

thechrisgethardshow:

So I’ve been thinking a lot about The Chris Gethard Show lately. Its very existence. Why we started doing it. Why we’re doing it now. I’ve noticed a few things.

And it is time for us to BURN IT DOWN. It’s time for us to set a FOREST FIRE to this show, that might be…

Come take a ride.

VACATION TIME

Hey all! I’m going to Europe for a month to figure out my life and take a break and all that jazz!

Being 27 and involved in an alternative/performance/writing path feels hard, as does working a string of jobs I don’t enjoy! I want to get some distance and perspective and I’m lucky enough that I have this opportunity to do so.

So this means a few things:

1. If you have anything awesome you think I should see in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid or Berlin, please let me know! I don’t have any plans currently so I’d love to hear what cool things I should see!

2. I’m subletting my room for the month of August! It’s discounted: 650 plus utilities! It’s a six block walk to the Jefferson L train and there’s a laundromat and bodega near by! Let me know if you know anyone who’s interested (or if you are)!

3. There will be guest hosts for my shows!

***

-SUPERNOVA will be hosted by:

-Magnet house team member and former SUPERNOVA coach BRANSON REESE on the 3rd and the 17th of August!

-Former SUPERNOVA member and current FART POLICE-man IAN O’KEEFE on the 10th and the 24th of August!

-Former SUPERNOVA member and current SUPERNOVA coach STEPHEN GARDELLA on August 31st!

These guys will be hosting the show and functioning as me, giving notes to teams that do not have coaches present. They have my full confidence and a ton of handsome charm!

Come check them out and all the great teams every Sunday in August at 6pm at Brit Pack!

***

-The Hero Show will be hosted in August by my great fill-in hosts for June: Mr. Joe DiBella and Ms. Jenny St. Angelo!

Come check them out and a bunch of great people playing with their heroes on Saturday August 23rd at 6:45pm at The Creek!

***

And I think that’s it! Thank you so much to everyone in this wonderful community for making me a part of it, to my rents for giving me this trip for my admittedly extremely adolescent 27th birthday and to my great friends. PLEASE give me your cool spots to visit in Europe and any leads on a subletter and if I don’t see you in the next two weeks, I’ll see you in September!

Love,
Nick

I did things in my 30s that were ignored by the world, that could have been quickly labeled a failure. Here’s a classic example; in 1974 I did a movie called Phantom of the Paradise. Phantom of the Paradise, which was a huge flop in this country. There were only two cities in the world where it had any real success: Winnipeg, in Canada, and Paris, France. So, okay, let’s write it off as a failure. Maybe you could do that.

But all of the sudden, I’m in Mexico, and a 16-year-old boy comes up to me at a concert with an album - a Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack- and asks me to sign it. I sign it. Evidently I was nice to him and we had a nice little conversation. I don’t remember the moment, I remember signing the album (I don’t know if I think I remember or if I actually remember). But this little 14 or 16, whatever old this guy was… Well I know who the guy is now because I’m writing a musical based on Pan’s Labyrinth; it’s Guillermo del Toro.

The work that I’ve done with Daft Punk it’s totally related to them seeing Phantom of the Paradise 20 times and deciding they’re going to reach out to this 70-year-old songwriter to get involved in an album called Random Access Memories.

So, what is the lesson in that? The lesson for me is being very careful about what you label a failure in your life. Be careful about throwing something in the round file as garbage because you may find that it’s the headwaters of a relationship that you can’t even imagine it’s coming in your future.

Paul Williams  (via albinwonderland)

I agree with this. Very eloquent.

TCGS @ DCM 16: TCGame of ThroneS (And a chance to see the pilot!)

thechrisgethardshow:

image

Tickets and Info at DelCloseMarathon.com!

Last year at the Del Close Marathon, TCGS put together a show where you were able to enter a series of tents to hang out one on one with your favorite members of the TCGS family. It was interactive and weird and super fun.

This year we’re upping the ante by linking you up with cast members so you can FIGHT other cast members and other AUDIENCE members. It will be a tournament unlike anything the world’s ever seen, with your favorite public access absurdist goofballs honoring Del Close in a series of competitive trials.

It’s going to be interactive theater of the most competitive and perhaps physically risky caliber.

I don’t know if anyone else in America feels this way, but the past few years I’ve been into this TV show called Game of Thrones, and the book series it was spawned from. And that gave me an idea – why can’t we try to live for one night in a world that works like that world? Why can’t we layer the TCGS universe on top of a pseudo-medieval society, then hold a tournament where actual audience members compete in a tournament where they face off for an ultimate prize?

WHY NOT?

Here’s how our show at DCM will work this year…

Read More

This is crazy and fun.

melleigh:


This machine allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like. Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour. This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York. This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary. Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.

god damn

melleigh:

This machine allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like. Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour. This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York. This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary. Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.

god damn

talkingtcgs:

Written by Sam Bradley
  • JD Amato – London – Can be the best place can be the most evil, in charge of everything
  • Chris Gethard – Manchester – Chip on it’s shoulder, aggressive yet thoughtful,friend to the arts, always down to party, friend to the people. Rains a lot.

wheneveritisnottherainyseason:

I sent this in to Talkin’ TCGS, and since it didn’t end up on the podcast, I figured I’d post it here. This is the culmination of a couple of months of thinkin’.

Chris Gethard - Captain Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise NX-01 (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Although…

Honestly thrilled!