Aaron Berg, Jessica Delfino set out to break Steve Byrne’s record for stand-up comedy sets in one night
Aaron Berg is known for his muscles and muscling his way through any crowd work that comes his way, whether he's working a guest spot at a comedy club, headlining a show or hosting his popular free Frantic showcase Monday nights at The Stand in New York City.
This Saturday will be the most frantic yet for Berg, as he's attempting to perform 23 different times in 11 different venues across NYC over the course of 11-plus hours, shattering whatever the record may be for such an endeavor.
“I’m think because I’m so extreme, I had one night where I did eight or nine sets, and there was all this downtime in between,” Berg told The Comic's Comic on Monday. “It was eight. And then I was like, I could do more sets! What’s the record? Then I found out about Steve Byrne’s record, which was 13. I watched Steve Byrne’s documentary just the other day, and I thought, the state that New York comedy is in, I think I can do way more than 13. So I started going over my possibilities, and I was like, oh, I can get 18-19. And then I scheduled 20. And now I’m at 23 scheduled. So, if I have to miss one or two, I’m still going to break 20. Which is insane! Like last week I did six, and I was tired by number six. I got to Gotham and I was like, geez, why did I, I didn’t need to do this. So it’s going to be nuts.”
Most think Steve Byrne holds the record at 13 stand-up comedy sets in one night. But just last night, in fact, Jessica Delfino performed some 16 times.
"I achieved my goal of performing the most consecutive comedy sets in one night in NYC last night though I did lose official count along the way. We got it all on video though and will figure it out," Delfino posted this morning. "At the end of it, I looked and felt like a weathered sea captain. In a strange, coincidental, irksome twist, comedian Aaron Berg will attempt to beat the record as well, this Sat. He's planning 20+ sets and I have faith he'll nail it, he's got lots of big muscles."
Delfino told The Comic's Comic she had the idea to pursue this record six months ago, back in February when "I was working on a series of prank-style videos. I was trying to think of things to do that would be outrageous and inexpensive. I made one where I walked around Gramercy Park asking guys to take better dick pics, one where girls beat me up with fish. 16 sets was the next idea but I dropped it when I couldn't come up with 16 sets for the date I had picked." Then she opened her own performance space and music school -- The Unicorn NYC. "And then I got pregnant. And then I had a miscarriage. And then I found a lump in my breast. When I was was faced with the idea that I could have breast cancer (I've had 4 tests, waiting on more...), I decided fuck it. It's now or maybe never."
She learned of Steve Byrne's recorded feat when Wil Sylvince showed her the footage.
Which only went back online a couple of weeks ago, via All Things Comedy, to commemorate the launch of Byrne's new podcast, "Gentleman's Dojo." This was "Steve Byrne: 13 or Bust." Roll the clip!
Delfino reunited with her video guy last week and decided to go for it on Thursday. "I thought it was odd that no one had attempted, and that he set the record in 2003. I was actually pretty shocked that it hadn't been done and thought, someone must have done it. But when I looked it up I couldn't find anything til Wil told me about it."
The Comic's Comic broke the news to Delfino about Berg's planned attempt.
"But here's what I've got: Most consecutive comedy MUSIC sets in a row, and most consecutive comedy sets by a woman," Delfino said after achieving her accomplishment Thursday night. "And at least 'til Saturday, I hold the unofficial record for performing the most consecutive comedy sets performed in one night by anyone in the world, and I will cherish it for these two days! Good luck to Aaron, it was a long night and my face hurts. So much love to the people who made it happen--the support and finagling and shimmying and hustle on the parts of dozens was dumbfounding and humbling, so thank you for filming me, letting me go before you, squeezing me in, cutting your set short, giving me a hug or a high five and making a wide berth so I could do the damn thing. And a serious major high five to the comedians of this city and the world who are out there every night, pushing, growing, working, dreaming, doing and simultaneously breaking yourself down and building yourself up, and the audiences who enable our crazy, newfangled life choices. I love this town!"
Now it's Berg's turn.
Berg, a Canadian here on a working visa for the past four-and-a-half years, just published his second book, a satire called American Etiquette: Failing Upwardly In A Fox News Nation (The Etiquette Series Book 2). He plans to hit up 10-11 clubs plus bar shows to reach his magic number of 23 sets, including New York Comedy Club, The Stand, Eastville, Greenwich Village, Stand-Up NY and LOL.
“Some will be 15-minute paid spots, and then some will be 7-10 minute guest spots,” he said.
You didn't name some other comedy clubs, though, so it could be even higher if you also performed at Caroline's or The Comedy Cellar's two venues, too?
“I think 23 in a night is going to be a hard beat,” he said. “But if you think about it, the Cellar, if you did both Cellar rooms in one night, what do they do? Like seven or eight on a Saturday? That’s eight right there. But the logistics of it is going to be the hardest thing. And we’re shooting a documentary for it, too. So it’s going to be me traveling with a whole crew.”
What will prove to be the biggest obstacle, do you think: Your own stamina, or the logistics of traveling?
“I won’t wait for anybody. I’ll just be, alright, I’ll see you there. So I’ll leave them behind. I think stamina-wise, I’ll be OK. The beautiful thing about where I’m at creatively is I don’t have an act. So much of it is going to be made up. I feel I’m at my funniest when I’m going up with nothing now, anyways. It’ll be interesting. I don’t know if I’ll repeat any things in a set. For sure there’ll be sets where I’m like, did I already say, ‘Do you like eating ass?’ and they’ll be wondering, ‘Why did he ask us that twice?’ That’s a fear. Repeating myself. But I’ve done that before and gotten out of it. It’s just for the stamina, to prove it can be done and to prove how great the scene in New York is now.”
Berg's journey begins Saturday with a 3:20 p.m. spot at NY Comedy Club and ends with a 2:45 a.m. spot.
“I’m sure that 3:20 crowd will be full of industry,” he joked.
Is that a bringer?
“I don’t know! That’s a good question. I don’t know. I would imagine – I would imagine I’m the pro spot on that show or something. Yeah, I don’t have to bring people. Should I check with my people? What if I showed up with one. ‘Where’s your five?!’”