The sixth annual Sketchfest NYC began its three-night sketch comedy festival at the UCB Theatre last night, with opening night performances by BoF, Harvard Sailing Team, Audience of Two, Sidecar, Livia Scott, and John Phillips, as well as a special talk with former Saturday Night Live writer Tom Davis and a final hour of musical comedy performances.
As the sketch duo BoF (Best of Friends), Stephen Soroka and Mamrie Hart used their quick wits and wordplay — “We don’t say ‘puns,’ we say wordplay,” Soroka informed me — in an all-new show of fast-paced sketches that coined the phrase “enemends” (not to be mistaken with “frienemies”), gave away prizes to a few lucky audience members, performed inscrutable celebrity impressions, and turned a drug bust into a dance party. Compared with their Sketchfest NYC debut a year ago, BoF was noticeably more confident and looser in their performance, timing, and writing last night.
Like BoF, the guys and gals of Sketchfest NYC favorites Harvard Sailing Team seem to be a happy-go-lucky bunch in their matching polos — until you realize their comedy style is to disarm the audience with a polite smile before punching you in the face. Sketches last night included some of the group’s trademark song and dance routines, “Yo Mama Canada,” and learning that “McDreaming” is an action verb. Read the rest of this entry »
The sixth annual Sketchfest NYC, in which 30 different performance groups from around North America converge on Gotham to celebrate the art of sketch comedy, begins tonight and runs through June 12 at the UCB Theatre in NYC. I spoke with several of the producers and performers participating in this year’s Sketchfest NYC about the festival, and how they think this annual event has grown to contribute to the creation of a unified sketch comedy community in New York.
“We throw a three-day party celebrating and honoring something that we all love to do and watch,” says Shayna Ferm, part of the sketch comedy troupe Fearsome and also a solo sketch and musical comedy performer. “Everyone has fun. Everyone meets people. We all get inspired. You remember your Sketchfest experiences and feel like you ‘know’ each other afterward. It’s a big love-fest.” Ferm has been involved in all six years of the festival, not only as a performer but also volunteering, selecting performance groups, and now being part of the producing team for the last two years.
When I first attended Sketchfest NYC four years ago, I immediately felt like I had been initiated as the newest member of some sort of secret club. Three nights of live sketch comedy from some of the best performers across the U.S. and Canada introduced me to the sketch scene in New York, and beyond. 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 »
Why comedy groups are descending on Gotham in June.
The competitive nature of acting in New York “puts this shield around you where you’re just ready to go out there and fight all the time,” says Jason Kalter, who is half of the sketch comedy duo Rue Brutalia. “But with comedy, if you see someone that’s funny and you like their stuff, you think, ‘I wish I could go there.’ Your first impulse is, ‘I gotta do something with them. I wanna make noise with them.’ “
Rue Brutalia is one of almost 30 sketch groups that will converge on New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to make lots of noise at the fourth annual SketchFest NYC, running June 12-14. Read the rest of this entry »