Spend any time in the black-box theaters and back-room bars of New York City’s comedy scene, and you’ll undoubtedly see Mindy Tucker and her camera, documenting the action from just offstage. Spend any time with Tucker, and you’ll soon find yourself changing the social-media profile pictures you use to ones taken by her. She has that knack for capturing you in your best light, no matter the light.
After several years and thousands of snapshots, Tucker has collected more than 500 of them for an exhibition that covers the restaurant walls of The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City — a record not only of Tucker’s work but also of a comedy scene in motion — “One Year in Comedy.” Rebecca A. Trent, The Creek’s owner, said the exhibition will remain up as long as Tucker will let her keep them.
Tucker offered her thoughts on the project with The Comic’s Comic in a video interview.
Tucker said Trent had asked her to put up some of her photos. “She said it could be whatever I wanted it to be,” Tucker said. She usually goes into a theater, club or bar with a game-plan in her head about capturing the overall life of a show. “I’m always thinking of things in terms of what would make a good portrait photo, or a really great performance shot, and I’m also thinking about backstage, and anything that can be about what a comedy show is like or the artistic process is like.”
“At some point, and I don’t know what the moment was,” she said, “I felt like if I wasn’t being inclusive enough, I wasn’t being fair. And the work began to change.”
And grow. And grow some more. Eventually, she found she had three terrabytes worth of photographs stacked up in her hard drive, and the thought of poring through them all seemed daunting. Nevertheless, she curated a full year of portraits, candid snapshots and behind-the-scenes looks at the ins, outs and around-the-bends of New York City comedy.
How much of it’s in the exhibit is even beyond Tucker’s count, at this point.
“I lost count in the middle, for numbering purposes, when I was captioning them. It was either 571 or 575 images that I had. I lost count around Keith Alberstadt,” she said.
See and hear here how Mindy Tucker approaches the photography of stand-up comedy, in this video interview conducted the day her exhibition opened at The Creek. Roll the clip!
Full disclosure: I’m included in the exhibition, too — in a photo taken in Aug. 1, 2011, following a Whiplash show, with Ed Larson from Murderfist and Comedy Central’s The Burn with Jeffrey Ross. Thanks, Mindy!