New York Times columnist tries stand-up

A few folks have pointed my way toward this weekend’s Executive Pursuits column in the New York Times, in which Harry Hurt III writes about attempting stand-up comedy for the first time at the Comic Strip Live. What should I say about this? It seems as though the NYT inevitably has one of its own write about performing every few years (does it coincide with section editors, I wonder?), and invariably (am I using that word and inevitably in their proper places? please do not waste time discussing) the reporter throws around a dozen cliches, half-truths and stereotypes about the world of stand-up comedy and learns something about himself or herself in the process of performing and telling jokes to strangers. That said, Hurt’s column is slightly different because his column is all about him taking a turn at someone else’s job, which is a great gig, if executed with proper and thorough research and an understanding of the jobs in question. And yet, that said, his column on stand-up sounds a lot like a lot of rookie open mikers. They are fans of comedy. They have an idol. They have an idle thought about what it’ll be like. And they go onstage without really thinking about knowing what they’re doing. Try that at another career, why don’t you? Then again, please don’t. But wannabe comedians seem to throw their cares to the winds, sometimes in spite of caring a lot about whether people will care about their jokey jokes. So. There. I guess I have said something about this, after all. That he chose to perform on a seemingly random night with other comics, as opposed to, oh, say, making his first bid as other reporters were that very week in a special showcase designed for funny reporters to attempt stand-up (New York’s Funniest Reporter), at first made me perturbed, until I realized amid writing this possibly run-on sentence that the point of his column is to act like any other comedian, and being part of a special reporters-only show might not have had the same impact. As for his performance, well, you can judge it for yourself as RooftopComedy recorded it here.

Related: Cat Greenleaf from WNBC-TV (4 New York) filed this report Oct. 9 on her performance in the New York’s Funniest Reporter contest. Watch it here.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →