Comedian Matt McCarthy loves professional wrestling, and thinks the sport deserves to be viewed and appreciated like any of the performing arts. For that matter, so should comedy. “I see a lot of parallels between stand-up and wrestling,” he says. “They’re both bastardized, in a way.”
And so on Monday, Jan. 24, McCarthy presents the first installment of “Marking Out,” a new “comedy extravaganza” to be held the third Monday of every month at the Ace Hotel in NYC — with a name inspired by the experience of watching pro wrestlers.
In wrestling, a “mark” is a fan who believes that the characters and events depicted in professional wrestling are real — or at least reacts as if they don’t know them to be staged. “‘Marking out’ is when you know wrestling is fake,” McCarthy explains, “but you get excited and lost in it anyway. So I’m calling the show ‘Marking Out’ because you know it’s just a joke, but you laugh anyway.”
Calling attention to joke-telling as performance art reveals McCarthy’s cerebral approach to working as a stand-up comic, which he has been doing in NYC and across the country for about eight years. When I ask McCarthy to describe his comedy writing and performance schedule, he pauses for a moment to make mental calculations, then decides, “Well, it’s all I think about.” Read the rest of this entry »
The ECNY Awards
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” Jon Friedman began when he took the stage in front of a standing room-only crowd at Comix comedy club to host the sixth annual ECNY Awards last night. “The way to get a sold-out show is to nominate everyone you know for an award.”
The ECNY Awards (which used to stand for “Emerging Comics of New York,” but now means nothing — or, as Friedman suggested: “Elephants Can Not Yawn. But I googled it, and they totally can.”) were celebrated March 8 at Comix, honoring the best, funniest, and most creative performers, shows, and producers working in comedy in New York City. Nominees and winners were determined by a combination of public online voting and votes from a small group of industry professionals.
“What I enjoy most about hosting the ECNY Awards,” Friedman told me before the show, “is the energy and enthusiasm from the audience. The biggest challenge and drawback that I find is that there actually has to be winners and losers. It’s weird to chose a winner in comedy. It’s fun, and we work on it for three quarters of the year, and it all culminates in one night. That’s exciting. It’s a higher-stakes night than a lot of our usual backroom performances. It feels special.” Friedman hosted for the third year in a row, and past ECNY Award winners presented this year’s awards.
Kumail Nanjiani, last year’s winner for “Best Male Stand-up Comedian” and “Best One-Person Show,” put the awards in perspective: “Last year, I couldn’t be here because I was in L.A. to audition for a part I didn’t get,” Nanjiani explained. “This year, I’m here, but I was in L.A. two weeks ago, to audition for a part I didn’t get. So things have just been happening much faster in my career ever since I won an ECNY Award.” Read the rest of this entry »