Stand Up NY

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Month: October 2016

Top Five Dramatic Performances from Stand-Up Comedians

There is a long tradition of stand-up comedians kicking ass in serious Hollywood roles. Ever since Charlie Chaplin inspired with his final speech in The Great Dictator, audiences learned that even the silliest of clowns are capable of breaking our hearts with brilliant performances.

Here are our picks for FIVE of the best dramatic performances from stand-up comedians.

  1. Our number five goes to the incomparable Steve Martin, for a role in a little known film called Shopgirl. Based on his novella of the same name, Shopgirl is a spirited film that highlights Martin’s softer side. We’ve seen glimpses of his depth in films like Roxanne and It’s Complicated, but Shopgirl is an authentic and vulnerable look into its author and star, and it makes this list because it reminds us of why we fell in love with Steve Martin in the first place.
  1. Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. Known for his frenetic style and elastic features, Carrey made as easy transition from stand-up comedy to film. While we love his portrayal of Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon (Check out our blog Love and Confusion in the World of Andy Kaufman for more on him) as well as his heartfelt performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but there’s something so utterly human about Truman Burbank that we can’t help but feel a certain connection to his journey.
  1. Number Three goes to a performance that caught the whole industry off guard: Mo’nique in Precious. Warning– don’t click the link unless you’re emotionally prepared. Mo’nique, a famous talking head on daytime television churns out one of the most chilling performances in recent history, and took home both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for her work. In the same way that a sad song from a comedy band always hits harder, a terrifying performance from a daytime talk-show comedian packs all the more punch.
  1. Our man Robin Williams loved to break and re-break our hearts with stirring performances from Hook to Dead Poets’ Society, but for our money we’ve got to give our #2 slot to Sean in Good Will Hunting, who taught us how to forgive ourselves and forge on. Not only was this a break-out for America’s favorite Boston bros, Matt and Ben, but it showed us a new and much more tender side of Williams. We’d stay and talk more about our love for him, but we’ve got to go see about a girl.
  1. Our number one spot goes to Patton Oswalt and his performance in Diablo Cody’s Young Adult. Oswalt is vulnerable without being pitiable, and he’s a moral compass against a Theron’s delusional leading lady. Even though the Academy snuffed him, Patton Oswalt took home a Critics’ Choice Awards and our hearts.

There are our picks for the five best dramatic performances from stand-up comedians! Feel free to comment below if one of your favorites didn’t make the cut, and don’t forget to stop by Stand Up NY to catch some of the best comedians in New York!

What Do I Do With My Hands?

Your name gets called. Sure they mispronounce it, but you’re like 90% sure they mean you.


It’s time. You’ve always wanted to do stand up, and you’re doing it! That’s amazing! This is a huge step and takes a lot of guts and- oh no. Wait. What…what do you do with your hands?


You never thought about this. Don’t you just kind of…hold the mic? This feels horrible. What’s this other hand even doing here?


Wait, are you just standing there? Start telling your jokes!


Oh man. You’ve watched so much stand up. How has this never crossed your mind? What did Louie CK do in his last special? Chris Rock? Schumer? Where were their hands? You never noticed their hands! You’re sure everyone is staring at yours right now.


Maybe put your hand in your pocket? Wait, this looks terrible. Now you can’t go anywhere. And where do your elbows go? Go back to one hand, dummy.


Let’s try putting the mic back on the stand. Ah, there we go. And….now you just have two hands free and no plan for either of them. You’ve literally doubled your problem. Get the mic out of the stand!


Wait, how long have you been on stage? Is that the light? This isn’t how you planned your first mic to go. Ok one minute left. Let’s put both hands on the mic. Yes. YES. This is great! Ol’ Lefty has got a place to rest, but also quick access to the open air for gesturing. Nice.


Annnnnd it’s over. You did what every great comedian has to do which is perform for the very first time. It’s scary, and awkward and statistically not terribly funny. But everyone starts out the same way: thinking about that dumb second hand.


At Stand Up NY, we’ve got an open mic every day of the week. Whether you’ve been doing it for years or you just want to try it out, come tell jokes with us. 

Love and Confusion in the World of Andy Kaufman

Stand-up comedy has been far and away my favorite art form for years now. I’m always drawn to its beauty, vulnerability, and bravery, but I think what keeps me coming back is comedy’s utter lack of rules. It is so odd to think that Jerry Seinfeld is in the same profession as Bo Burnham or Tig Notaro. Their personalities are as varied as their forms, yet there are still bound by the shared goal of making the audience laugh and think. But what happens to stand-up when you have no rules for yourself and no goals for the audience?


Well, you have Andy Kaufman.


Andy Kaufman performed for himself, doing what he found amusing, for as long as he found it amusing. Whether it was submitting to the will of Tony Clifton or wrestling women on late-night TV, Kaufman marched boldly in any direction he pleased. So in honor of his beautiful lunacy, we now present you with our top three favorite Andy Kaufman moments.


3) Reading the Great Gatsby

Check out our boy Andy Kaufman skipping the stand-up and opting instead for a reading of the great American novel. When the audience loses interest he offers to play a record instead, a recording of him reading The Great Gatsby aloud. The magic never ends.


2) Begging for change on the David Letterman

Kaufman looks to the audience in a rare moment of sincerity. Sit back and turn a kind eye to this artist who has fallen on tough times– perhaps you’ll be more kind than Letterman’s showrunner.


1) Playing the Bongos on his HBO special

Andy Kaufman accompanies himself on the bongos while regaling the audience with the harvest song of the people of the Caspian Sea. I dare you to resist its infectious beauty.

We hope you enjoyed this look into the late great Andy Kaufman! Come by Stand Up NY soon and see if you can catch a glimpse of his influence in the minds of young comedians as they forge their our paths!