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Month: June 2018

5 Great Jokes About America From Our Favorite Comedians

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Stand up comedy is like pizza in America — we may not have created it, but we sure as hell made it better.

From Lenny Bruce to The Smothers Brothers, George Carlin to Jon Stewart, there’s a long history of comics who have a love-hate relationship with the ol’ Red, White, and Blue.

And with Independence Day around the corner, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with some of our favorite comedians sharing their thoughts, dreams, and occasional fears about our great country. Here are our 5 favorite comedians talking about America:

Judah Friedlander — “America is the Greatest Country in the United States

Judah is a regular here at Stand Up NY and we were lucky enough to see him work out some of the material off his 2017 Netflix special “America is the Greatest Country in the United States” right here at our club.

Check out this clip where Judah shares his presidential platform for health care, climate change, and gun control:

Trevor Noah — “Sports in America

Sometimes the best observations on a subject come from the outside. Trevor Noah moved to the U.S. from his native South Africa in 2011, but it didn’t take him long to really get a pulse on the one thing Americans love the most: sports.

Watch this hilarious clip from his 2013 special, “African American” where he breaks down how American priorities may need a little adjusting:

Jerry Seinfeld — “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

If you haven’t seen Seinfeld cruising in a 1963 Chevy Corvette alongside our country’s 44th President, carve out 20 minutes from the hot dog eating and Bud Light drinking this July 4th and watch it now. Seinfeld goes for the deep cuts, like Obama’s underwear preference and his most embarrassing presidential moment.

Michelle Wolf — “White House Correspondents Dinner

It doesn’t get much better than this. We used to see Michelle Wolf grinding it out at our open mics here at the club. Now, she’s on the main stage taking down President Trump and politicians on both sides of the aisle. This may be the best piece of political humor for 2018:

Sarah Silverman — “I Love You, America

Sarah’s been an amazing comedian for years, but her new Hulu show, “I Love You, America” may be her best work yet. Check out this promo clip where Sarah gets to the core of America’s issues…magicians.

That’s it! Have a happy Independence Day, America! We love you.


Advice From a NY Comedian: Never Phone It In

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Ian Hunt is a NY-based stand up comedian by way of Michigan. He is the winner of the 2017 New York Comedy Festival, a contributing writer for Mad Magazine, and co-creator of the hit webseries, Insta Boyz. Ian produces a popular monthly show in Brooklyn called “Good For You.”  

I generally hate comedy advice.

Most of it seems arbitrary to me. My knee-jerk reaction when someone tries telling me I “have to” do something is to snap back with “who are you and why should I listen?”

Maybe that’s part of a comedian’s brain — an impulse that says, “don’t tell me what to do.”  

Or maybe I’m just an asshole.

But, so much advice comes from people I don’t know without any context.

And so, I’m going to tell a story about me here. I’m going to give some context to an important lesson I learned about comedy because I think it’s good advice and maybe if I can express how I learned it (and from whom) assholes like me will be more apt to take it.

Here it goes:

I was two years into comedy in New York City and fortunate to get booked on a bar show in the West Village.  

Now, bar shows in New York can be notoriously tough. Even a great producer who does all the right stuff — reaches out to press outlets, posts on social media, even barks audience members in — can end up with a rough show.

But, this one was especially brutal.

When I showed up, the “audience” consisted of four people sitting as far away from the stage as possible. Two of them were tourists from Sweden who didn’t seem to speak much English. On top of that, nothing seemed organized. The host greeted me, hopped on stage, shifted through some notes, and then looked at me and from the stage asked “Do you want to go first?”

No, I don’t, I thought. I want to wait. Maybe more people will show up. Put one of the other comics up first. Also why are we figuring this out now in front of the “crowd”?

I said “sure.”

Then, I sped through my set to the sounds of empty silence. No real effort on my part. When I got the light, I didn’t even bother to use my final minute. I got off stage and walked straight to the bar to grab a drink and stew in my own misery.

What a waste, I thought to myself. I knew I was a nobody, but I was better than this show. Hitting an open mic would have been a more productive use of my time. I watched the comic after me go down the same path of frustration and resignation as he too sped through his set and got off stage as quickly as possible.

Then Myq Kaplan showed up.

He took the stage and immediately engaged the audience. Both me and the second comic had done a little crowd work (with no success), but Myq’s approach was totally different. He didn’t have the defeatist attitude we had on stage.

He was excited to be on the show and the crowd knew it.

To my surprise (and the host’s too, frankly), the audience came alive. Turns out the two Swedes spoke English just fine and all four attendees were ready and willing to chat and laugh. Myq was by far the most accomplished comic on the show — at this time, he already had late night sets on Conan and Letterman under his belt in addition to a Comedy Central Presents — but he was not above this 7PM on a Wednesday bar show for four people.

He was tap dancing. He was on. I had gone on stage and punished the people who had showed up. I was like the teacher who yells at their class for skipping: “Why are we in trouble?! We’re the ones here!”

Mark Normand says “you’re not above anything.” And I know he means it because I heard him say it on an open micer’s podcast that sounded like it was recorded on a broken iPhone. It probably was, and Mark Normand has played Madison Square Garden.

The lesson here is simple: never phone it in.

Comedy doesn’t owe you anything. There are so many comics in New York alone who want that spot so bad. Who want to “make it.” You can’t afford to not give it your everything. Rolling with the punches makes you better. Saving a tough show feels amazing. You’re in control: every show is fun if you let it be. Doesn’t matter if you’re performing for four people or four-thousand.

Never phone it in. Take every spot. You’re not above anything.