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, celebrating the best of the comedic performing arts in New York, were presented Monday night, March 8, at the city’s Comix comedy club. Fifteen awards were given out, in categories ranging from best male standup comedian to outstanding achievement in the field of tweeting.
For the third year in a row, Jon Friedman (“The Rejection Show,” “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon”) hosted the show. “It’s weird to choose a winner in comedy,” Friedman said before the ceremony, comparing the ECNY Awards with the previous night’s Academy Awards. “Comedy is so subjective, and any comic can simply have an off night on any given night. Or, as a comic, you can connect with certain people and not at all with others, no matter what day or night it is. Whereas with a film—say, for best picture—that film is exactly the same every time it’s shown.”
Among the past ECNY winners presenting awards were Kurt Braunohler (BBC’s “Penelope Princess of Pets”), Sara Benincasa (Sirius Satellite Radio), Leo Allen (“Saturday Night Live”), Pat Baer (UCB Theatre), Reggie Watts, Kumail Nanjiani (“Michael and Michael Have Issues”), and Michelle Collins (BestWeekEver.tv). Other presenters included Michael Musto (The Village Voice) and Andrew W.K., with a special video greeting from Michael Ian Black (The State).
Upon accepting his award for best one-person show early in the evening, Tom Shillue said of the raucous event, “The future of comedy is community. And that’s what this is.” Shillue then exceeded his 30-second acceptance-speech limit, was played off the stage with “Me So Horny” blaring from the speakers, and cursed everyone he had just thanked. 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 »