Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.”
Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!
The title of Ted Alexandro’s new special derives from his proud declaration that he is “44, single, never married, no kids. I did it!” It serves as both a memorable joke and a fantastic setup for the beginning of his new special, filmed last August at The Creek and the Cave comedy club in Long Island City, Queens.
The first half of the show delves into the perks of singledom, as he deems himself a role model for young singles. It’s fruitful ground for Alexandro to explore, serving as a springboard for material on everything from throwing away salad to the messiness of love to the similarity between sex and guns.
Like many comics, his personal material is his strongest. His description of himself as not old but “retired from trying to be young,” segues perfectly into a bit about his declining interest in sex as he enters middle age. Not all of the material flies; there are some iffy domestic-violence jokes that aren’t quite strong enough to justify the horrendousness of the subject matter, and some bits about porn and dick pics don’t shed much new light on these much-covered subjects.
There’s a fairly noticeable switch midway through the special, and the second half feels more like a hodgepodge of bits, likely cobbled together from short club sets. They’re solid jokes of varying quality, hitting topics like magicians, classical music, George Zimmerman and Oprah. There are also a few bits about exercise classes and drunken neighbors that allow for some moments of physicality, and a rant about the unfairness of presidential debates that even he admits doesn’t quite qualify as comedy.
Alexandro is a staple of the New York comedy scene—Time Out New York named him one of the city’s comedy linchpins, and he co-founded the New York Comedians Coalition, which fought to raise wages for club performers. He is, in many ways, the epitome of the dependable NYC city comic, guaranteed to improve any show that he’s on.
Unfortunately, given that pedigree, this special lets him down. The growing trend of filming stand-up specials in small venues (other recently examples include Sarah Silverman’s We Are Miracles and Morgan Murphy’s Irish Goodbye) seeks to recreate the fun of an intimate, tight-knit room, but often ends up just feeling small. Though the crowd for Alexandro’s show is receptive, and the laughs surely felt significant in the 50-seat theater at the Creek, the audience response seems timid without the black-box context.
Overall, I Did It just doesn’t give him the chance to shine. It may serve as a fair introduction to Alexandro’s style for those unfamiliar with his admirable trajectory, but it doesn’t truly showcase just why he is one of the quickest, most socially minded working comics on the scene today. Alexandro is a better comic than this special allows him to be.
By Elise Czajkowski
For more great comedy from other New York staples, check 0ut:
Saturday, March 1 I Sue Costello – Dorchester, Massachusetts Ms. Costello has appeared in feature films Southie with Donnie Wahlberg; Once in the Life with Laurence Fishburne; and The Fighter starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Mark Wahlberg. She just filmed the movie The Witching Hour with William Fosythe and Michael Madsen and the movie Best Man In The Dark. She also shot her first music video with Jim Breuer. Sue has has been a guest twice on the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron and hosts her own podcast called The Kadoozie Kast. Both can be found at her website suecostello.com.
Wednesday, March 12 I Fred Armisen – Providence, Rhode Island Known for his versatility and creating odd, memorable characters, comedian Fred Armisen is one of the secret weapons of Saturday Night Live. He’s a great utility player, always delivering the goods without overshadowing any of his other cast members. With his 2011 sketch comedy Portlandia, Armisen became one of the defining voices of skewering a very specific type of 2000s-era hipster, proving that there will be a long life for him after Saturday Night Live.
Friday, March 28 I Bob Nelson – Hamburg, New Jersey A contemporary of Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, Mr. Nelson’s extraordinary talents have been refined by a career that has included multiple appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show and David Letterman. Bob has performed live thousands of times at hundreds of comedy clubs, colleges and other exciting live venues including the Las Vegas strip, Radio City Music Hall and on NYC’s Broadway. He has also had the great honor to perform at the Ford Theater in Washington D.C. for president Ronald Reagan. Most recently, he has performed on stage at The Grand Ole Opry. Bob was prominently featured in two of Rodney Dangerfield’s enormously popular HBO stand up comedy showcases, alongside other comedy phenoms like Rosanne Barr and Sam Kinison. That led to two HBO specials starring Bob Nelson, including the ground breaking classic Nelson Schmelson.