The world of the stand-up comic in New York is a seedy, difficult and frustrating one to navigate. I know, my friend is one:
Here he is performing at the Comedy Cellar this past Thursday. He was pretty funny. I taped a bit and posted it on You Tube for the world's enjoyment:
Any shakiness of the video is due to my chuckle. But let me just say a few words about being a stand-up comic from not actually being one myself, but having a friend that plays one on TV. It is hard. Greg works hard to book gigs and is then usually required to bring a certain amount of "guests" to be deemed worthy enough to go on stage.
It get's worse.
Usually these comic clubs charge you anywhere between $5 and $15, sometimes as high as $20 just to get in, and that doesn't include the usual standard of a TWO drink minimum, and overpriced drinks at that. This is a racket my friends, but what's a comic to do? They need practice, they need time on stage to hone their craft and perform in front of an audience filled with live people.
I've been to more than a few and have noticed some trends. First, there is always an MC who is "keeping the show moving." Sometimes they are funny and sometimes they suck. So, the MC introduces the comics. If the comic has recently aired on TV or played somewhere with a reputation, they will mention and embellish this fact. But if the comic is of the "beginner" status they get a canned intro...."this next comic plays all around town...." Which is code for "just another new comic." I find this insulting to the comic and audience. They could say at least a few words about WHERE in town they play, or something interesting about the actual comic.
In going to these shows you also start to hear the same jokes. There is a joke, that Greg tells me originates from a David Cross bit, that I have heard more than a few times. It's about the misuse of the word "literally." I've just heard it so many times that no matter what they use as an example, it's just not funny.
After Greg's set we went to a restaurant around the corner:
Don't go in here unless you finagle a free glass of wine from the "host." We got a free glass of wine for everyone, that alone made this place worth it. I wonder if they only do this on week days. The food was good though. I had Penne Ala Vodka, Greg had some kind of Chicken and Sausage and Peppers in a Lemon Sauce that was very tasty, his wife had a wonderful Egg and Bacon pasta dish that she barely touched. My better half had a Polenta dish with Mushrooms, I didn't care for it, but I don't like Mushrooms, nor really Polenta that much.
But what they DID have, was the best TIRAMISU I have had in the City to date and that alone makes this place worth it's weight in gold, as far as I'm concerned:
Ever since i discovered this dessert in 1996, I became obsessed. For years I even made it myself and sold it at a restaurant (for no profit, just re-imbursed for cost). It was pretty popular, but maybe that's because I pushed it and it was home-made. But anyway, If there is a Tiramisu on the menu, you can bet your butt I am going to try it, even if I'm full. And while Ciao's had a lot of whip cream on top, the custard was perfect, and the ratio of espresso and brandy in the ladyfingers was well-balanced. It was neither sopping wet, nor dry. It was pretty darn near perfect. And a generous portion as well.
I highly recommend you stop by and give it a whirl.