Jen’s 2008 Review: Comedy Venues

Hey you guys! I started writing a blog about my past year in comedy (my first full year doing this crazy life) and it ended up being really…depressing. Since starting comedy, I’ve had over seven jobs in ten months (accounting temp, pet sitter, pre-k teacher, barista, VH1 blogger, craigslist spammer, background/extra for TVs and movies, etc.), performed at 70+ shows (from back rooms to Highline Ballroom) and gone on a few dozen auditions (from reading sides in the back of a diner to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).  No doubt it was a damn roller coaster and I barely got through it.

So…maybe it’s not the most realistic thing to do, but I am just gonna focus on the highlights in taking a look back at this year.  This is the first in a series of stuff worth remembering:

The PIT (People’s Improv Theatre)

MC Hammerstein at The PIT

MC Hammerstein at The PIT

I’ve been in/around The PIT since 2006 and it continues to be, to me, the best all-around comedy venue (and school!) It consistently has the best shows, the most diversity (in programming, people, etc.) and an undeniably welcoming attitude.  The PIT’s definitely been through its changes, but it is truly a bright light on the New York comedy scene:  an open/non-snobby atmosphere combined with stellar quality.  Unlike a lot of comedy shows (and trust me, I’ve seen almost a hundred this year!), I can say without exception that The PIT has never failed to impress me in terms of talent and FUN.  Yes, comedy shows that are fun!!!  This is truly exemplified by the love fest that is Super Free Wednesdays, the weekly free improv show by PIT house teams and faculty.  Some of the top sketch groups in NYC also came out of The PIT, but ticket prices are still low (typical prices are FREE, $5 or $10).   http://www.thepit-ny.com


Stain Bar

Soce, The Elemental Wizard, in action at Stain!

Soce, The Elemental Wizard, in action at Stain!

I first became familiar with this bar/art lounge when I heard about its annual Bjork celebration, and have been a regular since performing at Evan Morgenstern’s Switzerland Neutral Comedy show.  Stain hosts tons of cool events, plus it has great ambience with funky wall art and plaid shirt-covered bar stools.  The humble stage makes it feel like you are hanging out in the coolest living room in the world, although the location of the bathroom at stage left does make things slightly awkward.  Stain also boasts some unique and delicious-against-all-logic wine cocktails (red wine and Manhattan Special?!) and a supercool staff.  As comedian Mark Normand said, it’s like doing comedy “in a Wes Anderson movie”.  It’s a bit off the beaten path in Brooklyn, but it’s absolutely worth the trek.  They’ve also got a huge, gorgeous backyard and it’s much less scene-y than other bars located along the L train.  http://www.stainbar.com/


Ochi’s Lounge

Jen with Soce at Ochi's

Jen with Soce at Ochi's

There are some places I perform at a lot that I have mixed feelings about, like Ochi’s Lounge.  Picking up where Mo Pitkin’s left off, Ochi’s has tons of cool alt shows and frequent drop-ins from established stars.   However, it’s half-love, half-schmego.  Schmooze and ego.  Maybe it’s because I’m too sensitive about my chosen profession – or maybe it’s because Ochi’s is in the basement of Comix, but there are a lot of young comedians folding their arms at each other’s sets.  However, you can tell that Ochi’s means well and the producers are great people who represent a variety of comedic tastes (Sara Benincasa of Familiy Hour, Carol and Sean of Drink at Work, John Morrison of the Motel franchise, Sean/Pat/Blaine of Don’t Touch Me There are just some of them), and it’s all presided over by the ever-lovely Kambri Crewshttp://www.comixny.com/ochislounge.aspx

Next time on Jen”s 2008 Review:  Fellow Comedians