Chris Gethard’s Magic Box of Stories (birthday edition)

While you were launching headlong into your Memorial Day Weekend plans, I was one of about 100 fortunate souls to witness a special edition of Chris Gethard's "Magic Box of Stories," the comedian's engaging and entertaining autobiographical storytelling series at the UCB.

Chris Gethard is an improv superstar these days at the UCB's New York City theater, performing regularly with The Stepfathers, teaching classes, and receiving a lot of applause and attention each year during the Del Close Marathon. Gethard also has a lot of interesting tales to tell from his life experiences growing up in New Jersey; so many, in fact, that he has written the titles of these stories down on index cards and placed them in a container (or magic box, as it were). For his "Magic Box of Stories," he asks audience members to pull out an index card, he tells that story, then plays a video commentary from his mother, "Big" Sal, in which she adds her two cents.

Last night''s late show was extra special for Gethard, though, because it began at 11 p.m. on Morrissey's 50th birthday and ended just shy of midnight, the start of Gethard's 29th birthday. "I can't think of a better way of starting my birthday than by sharing it with you," he told the audience. That, despite his insistence early in the show that birthdays are not his favorite time of year because he tends to reflect on how close (or far) he is from achieving his dreams. What does this have to do with Morrissey? Well, as Gethard explained, he long has been a huge fan of Morrissey, and earlier this spring, he met The Smiths frontman and got an autograph tattooed into his arm. So Gethard recounted this story for the audience, with the follow-up of how Internet haters hated on him (on a Morrissey fan site, even?!). I'm not sure why Morrissey fans would hate one of their own for getting his autograph tattooed, but whatevs. We want to hear more from Gethard's life and travels.

On this night, audience members asked for and received tales of his "6 Red Bumps" (a sexual romp gone wrong), "My Father" (a hilarious recounting of how some teen punks incurred the wrath of his father) and "Button Woods." I'd tell you about this last one, but you can see and hear a version of it for yourself, from Gethard's "Magic Bus of Stories" — when the comedian chartered a bus, packed it with fans and drove around to the sites of his experiences while telling the stories. Here is a video slideshow from that daylong event. The dramatic pacing and punchlines are tougher to convey while standing on a moving bus, but you'll get the idea (contains a few profanities):

Gethard's Magic Bus: The Beast of Button Woods from Brian Glidewell on Vimeo.

The next edition of Chris Gethard's Magic Box of Stories takes place June 6. Check the UCB-NY listings for future times and dates.

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.

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One thought on “Chris Gethard’s Magic Box of Stories (birthday edition)

  1. I’ve been convinced for a while that Gethard is going to be the next person out of UCB to hit it big. He’s just too damn enjoyable to watch, both as an improvisor and a storyteller.

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