Author: Sean L. McCarthy

Assessing the Rififi/post-Rififi scene

Whether you call it the "alternative" comedy scene or the "downtown" comedy scene, and either of those labels doesn’t quite fit when describing the particular crop of New York performers who tend to eschew the traditional comedy clubs — and even that tag doesn’t apply to those stand-ups who perform in comedy clubs as well as the dive bars, burlesque halls and basements of the city. Nevertheless, the main clique finds itself wondering if this is the last gasp for the current East Village scene. Mo Pitkins closed suddenly last year, and several shows migrated to Ochi’s Lounge below Comix. It’s a great use for that basement bar space, but not large enough for the more popular alt-shows. And now the fate of Rififi seemingly hangs in the balance. Again. Rumors of its demise have popped up every few months or so, and though the property’s real estate broker assured me last fall that the club had a buyer and a closing date, that date came and passed, and earlier this month, performers were told that at the lease’s end, Leap Day really would be a monumental Leap Day. If so, come March 1, where will Invite Them Up be inviting them up? What about Greg Johnson and Larry Murphy? Are they Totally J/King us? And where would all of these comedians and their friends and fans just generally...

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In review, better late than never

As a journalist, reaching the final page of the notebook always prompts mixed emotions. First, excitement at the prospect of starting anew with a clean, fresh pad of paper. Then, a touch of sadness, because you’ve held this pad literally close to the vest for months, and inside it are memories, written down and kept with you, but nevermore. And you know that even though you keep your notes around for years to come, the odds remind you that you’ll likely not open this pad again, leaving it with the other memories of shows and interviews and news gone by. Was there something you’d written that shouldn’t be left behind, you wonder? If you’re lucky to remember, you flip back through the pages looking for important phone numbers, names and notes to self that actually became notes to self. I found a few shows I’d seen that made my notepad but hadn’t been shared yet. So let’s get to it. Goodnight, OJ: This one-woman show by Livia Scott (directed by Baron Vaughn) has its final performance tonight (Jan. 30) at the UCB Theatre in NYC. In it, Scott re-examines and performs actual letters written to OJ Simpson when he was in jail back in 1994 charged with double murder. I saw this show Nov. 29, 2007, when Simpson had just come back into the news — and jail —...

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ECNY extra extras!

Before we move on to other issues in comedy, let’s reflect one more time on Monday night’s ECNY Awards celebrating the New York comedy scene. If you think the cinematography in Cloverfield was shaky, check out this short video I shot moments before the ceremony began at a front-row table with Greg Johnson and Larry Murphy, who host the Friday night all-star comedy showcase at Rififi (at least through February). Note to self: Why do I sound out of breath? Am I that out of shape? Larry Murphy & Greg Johnson ECNY winners!Uploaded by thecomicscomic Here is a much more professional video that kicked off the ceremony, shot and edited by Drink at Work’s Carol Hartsell. And here is one of many lovely photos taken at the event by actor/comedian/photographer Tracey B. Wilson: I Eat Pandas’ Glennis McMurray seems more than pleased to answer the red carpet questioning from Brooke Van Poppelen and Danny Leary. Her beau, presenter Matt McCarthy, has an expression that says, you better watch out what you ask my lady friend, lady friend. More photos after the jump, including one of Nate from The Apiary, whom more than a few comedians were surprised to see actually existed (at least that’s what they said when he won his ECNY) Yes, bloggers are real people. Sometimes. More photos, after the jump! Fun fact: This is what Nate...

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Brett Gelman’s “lil” New York lottery campaign?

Have you seen the new New York Lottery ads for Take 5, featuring the talking head of who appears to be Brett Gelman on a teeny tiny body? Now that’s cracked out! The 30-second TV spot is one thing, but here is a link to the lottery campaign, A Little Bit of Luck, where you can find much more zaniness. I asked Gelman about it last night at the ECNY Awards, and he replied, "Nah, that was Marlon Wayans." You can also download your own Desktop Lil’ Widget to have him tell you that night’s Take 5 numbers. UPDATED (12:25 a.m. Jan. 30): Gelman appeared on Tuesday’s Sweet show and told host Seth Herzog he wasn’t all that amused by getting introduced onstage as "A Little Bit of Luck." I think he was joking. Right? Look here at this photo of him on a bus stop poster on Sixth Avenue south of West 14th Street in New York City! Note the fact that it’s already "tagged." I’d post video of the ad, but all you need to do is watch the local TV news and you’re bound to see him. UPDATED WITH...

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2008 ECNY Awards

Over the years, I’ve witnessed some of the uglier facets of comedy contests as both a participant and as a judge. Last night, however, I saw the sunnier side at the ECNY Awards (please don’t call them the Emerging Comics of New York anymore) ceremony at Comix in New York City. Even before the showcase started, you could see something special happening. Comedians got dressed up. There was a red carpet. Small, to be sure, but still there and still red with correspondents talking to a camera in footage that presumably will wind up on the Internet. A very festive air. And so nice to see a scene — or at least a distinctly unique scene — come together in celebration of the art of comedy. Host Jon Friedman said they changed the name of the awards KFC-like to just ECNY to show they were rewarding all sorts of comedy, not just the emerging kind. At the same time, though, it would’ve been nice to really see all of New York comedy represented in the room. When the ceremony ended, several comedians had to turn around and go back to their table because they didn’t have their proper receipts on hand for the door guys. We spent the night in a traditional comedy club with traditional item minimums and rules, and yet we could’ve used a few more traditional...

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