by JK Clarke
Let’s say it’s late on a Sunday night, you don’t want the weekend to end and are hankering for a few laughs. A new show in cabaret venue Feinstein’s/54 Below (the basement of famed hotspot of lore, Studio 54) debuted earlier this month, providing the only midtown, late show comedy to be found in New York City on a Sunday. Late Night Comedy at 54, in its flagship show, Three Day Weekend (the brainchild of producer/comic David De Almo), premiered March 5 and runs every other Sunday through May 30. The show features stand-up comics from TV and local clubs and theater, with convivial host Tyler Fischer.
The premiere show, March 5, went surprisingly well for a debut, thanks surely to De Almo’s experience producing such hit shows as Mike Birbiglia’s Thank God For Jokes and Chris Gethard: Career Suicide. The program opened with the biggest comic of the night, the tremendously funny and smart Mark Normand (Comedy Central Half Hour), who often tours as an opener for Amy Schumer and is one of the hardest working comics in the business, playing several venues per night when he’s not on the road. Normand didn’t disappoint, with clever, venue perfect lines like this observation about how we never see gay gangs roaming the streets: “That would just be a musical,” he says.
The opening night crowd was fairly small, as would be expected, but the mostly tourist crowd was enthusiastic and game for banter from host self-effacing Fischer who kibitzed with the college kids on spring break about their home states (Michigan, Minnesota), as did most of other comics. There were solid sets by Leah Bonemma (who hilariously gave a brief physical demonstration to a shy male audience member where he might find a certain, important part of woman’s genitalia), Joe Zimmerman (Last Comic Standing), the very bubbly Jenny Zigrino (Conan) and De Alma.
Late Night Comedy at 54 has a ton of promise and plenty of room to grow (especially by including Broadway stars like School of Rock‘s Alex Brightman, who’ll be appearing April 2). If the producers can market the event to nearby hotels, they may soon find a line out the door every Sunday night. The next show, tonight (Sunday, March 19), has a stellar lineup, featuring some of my favorite comics working, including the very funny and incisive (and I meant this about all three) Janelle James (Comedy Central’s @Midnight), Joyelle Nicole (Night Train on Seeso and frequent opener for Dave Chappelle) and Nimesh Patel (Comedy Knockout and writer for the 2016 Oscars); additionally, there are also top-notch comics Gary Vider (Conan) and Maria Wojciechowski (The Comedy Show Show on Seeso). It’s a great roster sure to provide a more palatable transition into the work week. It’s a little bit early this week—Sunday, March 19 at 9.30 PM (doors at 8.45 PM)—so adjust your plans accordingly and set your DVR to record The Walking Dead so you can watch itwhen you get home. Sunday doesn’t have to be a bummer. End your weekend with a laugh.
Late Night Comedy at 54. Premiered March 5 and plays every other Sunday at 11.30 PM (Doors 11 PM), except Sunday March 19 at 9.30 PM at Feinstein’s/54 Below (254 West 54th, Between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). www.54below.com
Photos: JK Clarke