What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they’re comedians? No, that’s not it. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York’s vibrant comedy scene. It’s called Meet Me In New York.
Spend enough time at The Olive Tree Cafe and Comedy Cellar and you’ll see how the comedy classes literally move up the steps and into the back of the room. New York City’s freshest comedy faces stand pensively on the sidewalk, looking for a friendly older face of one of the Cellar’s regulars to acknowledge them. Then they move into the Olive Tree and take a front table, ordering Buffalo wings, burgers and kebabs and doodling on the table with the chalk in the tabletop cups. Eventually, they feel confident enough to approach the “comedians” table in the back corner. They take some good-natured ribbing. They may even talk to Estee, the booker. One night, they’ll get a guest set audition spot. If that goes well, they’ll be invited to put in their avails and land a spot or two or maybe more on the regular schedule. Years later, they may become that friendly older face the next class of new NYC comedians seeks out.
I remember meeting Monroe Martin a while back as part of a group of young comics eagerly waiting for their chance to break. Martin, 27, will experience his biggest break yet this summer. Perhaps as early as tonight. Although it’ll come first thanks to primetime network TV, as a contestant on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. This weekend, he’ll also be opening for Jeffrey Ross at Caroline’s on Broadway, and he already has recorded a stand-up set for the second season of Adam Devine’s House Party on Comedy Central.
A former foster child from Philadelphia, he’s hoping every city’s comedy community has some brotherly love for him now. So let’s shine a light on Monroe Martin!
Name: Monroe Martin
Arrival date: August 2010
Arrived from: Philadelphia, Penn.
When and where did you start performing comedy? I started November 2007 at The Laff House Comedy Club in Philadelphia. I bombed so often that the owner banned me for two months.
What was your best credit before moving here?
Winner of Philly Sketchfest 2010 and winner of the Death At A Funeral comedy contest. I won $1,000 and spent it all on shoes and my girlfriend.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else?
I picked NYC over LA because It was closer to Philly and if I failed at comedy the ride home was only two hours.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here?
My first NYC paying gig was way before I moved here. I used to do urban rooms which always paid but never started on time.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from?
The NYC comedy scene is better for me because I can get up multiple times a night. When I lived in Philly I got up four to five times a week.
Can you describe an “only in New York City” moment from your experience here?
My first week living in the city I saw a guy smoke crack on the Bronx-bound 6 train, a drag queen pee on the side of the duplex lounge/bar, and a cute girl bought me a beer at The Village Lantern (never happened again).
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here?
Enjoy every shitty show, every fight, every show you had to bark people into, all the crazy shit people say to you after shows, enjoy it all. It builds character.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I don’t know where I see myself in five years — I didn’t even plan on making it to this point. I just don’t want to be smoking crack on the train or dressed as a woman peeing on the side of a bar.
Here is footage of Martin performing last summer at The Stand comedy club in NYC. Enjoy!
Top: Monroe Martin photographed by Georgie Wileman
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com