In anticipation of 3 great season premieres tonight (Broad City and Workaholics and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), I wanted to share some of my favorite comedic acts from last year. This will be my final installment of the “Shows of 2014″ series!
I absolutely love comedy, whether it’s in stand-up or sketches or improv, and I think it doesn’t get enough respect/recognition in Hollywood. Great comedians are typically extremely insightful and very aware of their surroundings; timing and quick-wittedness is everything. Watching MADtv and Saturday Night Live during my younger years make up some of my fondest memories, and there are sketches that I still quote today. And I barely watch any television these days, but when I do turn it on it’s usually tuned to Comedy Central.
- AZIZ ANSARI
OCTOBER 9TH AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
I came know Aziz Ansari through a little show called Parks and Recreation, which is now in it’s final season. Then, through the magic of the Interwebs and namely YouTube, I saw his stand-up and was instantly hooked. Luckily he was performing a huge show right around my birthday. Unluckily, Ticketmaster changed the start time and never emailed me, so we arrived half an hour late. (Damn you, Ticketmaster!) But I still got to enjoy such an insightful set called Modern Romance. Something I love about Aziz is that he’s tech savvy; a lot of his jokes revolved around how technology is changing how we convey emotions. At one point he had audience members bring their smartphones to the stage so he could read their sexts out loud.
It was also refreshing to hear a male comedian talk about women without contempt. He spoke about how the word feminism is being widely misused (frequently with a negative connotation): “Feminist simply means you believe in political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Period, end of story. I’m a feminist.” Right on, Aziz, right on.
- BROAD CITY LIVE
JUNE 28TH DURING UCB THEATRE IMPROV WEEK
Broad City came into my life serendipitously, and I’m quite grateful. 30 Rock was over, Parks and Recreation was winding down. What was I going to do without my Tina and Amy?! Cue Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer: weird, young creative-types, scrapping by in New York City. I was basically looking in the mirror, whereas before I was always looking up to Tina and Amy (I still do, but you get what I mean). Okay yes, Tina, Amy, Abbi, and Ilana are all Caucasian, but I think we’re getting somewhere. One day there’ll be a show with two weird minorities as the main characters. (A girl can dream!) Thank goodness we are getting to a place where TV execs are not afraid of putting unapologetic and hilarious women on screen.
- NICK KROLL & FRIENDS
JUNE 29TH AT UCB THEATRE
Above you are seeing my dream lineup: Maya Rudolph, Natasha Lyonne, Nick Kroll, and **AAAMMYY POEHHHLERRRRR** – sorry, megaphone was on – Amy Poehler. Unfortunately this picture was taken at the very end of the show and they weren’t up there for very long, but still. This improv show was fun to watch since Nick Kroll has a lot of interesting friends. He’d bring them on one by one and they’d basically start an improv scene with him. John Mulaney, Brian Huskey, Jason Mantzoukas, Seth Morris all showed up (among others) and I loved every awkward moment of it. Especially when, during a dramatic scene with Brian Huskey, the security guard’s ringtone went off – it was Usher’s “Yeah.”
- DAVE CHAPPELLE (FEATURING NAS)
JUNE 24TH AT RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL
Dave Chappelle doesn’t like cell phones. I learned the hard way; my phone was in my lap during the Oddball Festival last year and a notification automatically lit the screen, the next thing I know a giant security man was literally pushing me out of the arena. Awful. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from seeing this legendary comedian. I waited, and later in 2014 I was rewarded with a round of shows that included a different musical guest every night: Kanye, Nas, The Roots, Erykah Badu, and others. I chose the night with Nasty Nas, since I’ve listened to Illmatic for such a long time. The ENTIRE audience knew every last word.
Dave’s set wasn’t as long as I’d hoped, but I was just glad to see him back in the game after such a long hiatus. You could tell that the crowd felt the same, he was dearly missed. Maybe one day he’ll do something with Chris Rock and Kevin Hart. That would be phenomenal.
- DISNEY’S ALADDIN ON BROADWAY
FEBRUARY 28TH AT NEW AMSTERDAM THEATRE
Okay, so I know that Aladdin is not a comedy, it’s a musical. Well, actually, it’s an animated classic from back when animated didn’t mean computer-generated images (no more Frozen songs please dear lord). But even amongst the Disney Classics, Aladdin always stood out to me as laugh-out-loud funny, mainly because of the wonderful voice work of one Robin Williams. Of course there’s the inherent hilarity that comes from the dynamic between an emotional monkey, an expressive magic carpet, and a talking parrot. Transferring all that to the stage was done surprisingly well in this musical – there are tweaks and additional characters, but it enriched the plot instead of distracting from it. James Monroe Iglehart as Genie is thrilling to watch. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire night.
Also, those sets! Beautifully designed.
I hope some of these acts are new to you, and that you’ll take a look at some of their work. I’m always on the hunt for new and inspirational artists, so if you have any you’d want to share, let me know!