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Bi-Coastal Echo

Top alternative comedy performers bring their own version of a variety show to 92Y Tribeca.

The bill at 92Y Tribeca on January 8 of David Cross, Paul F. Tompkins and Janeane Garofalo was less a showcase for each of these performers than more of an East Coast version of the L.A. alternative comedy showcase series Comedy Death Ray (commemorated on CD).

Tompkins and Garofalo co-hosted the proceedings, bantering between acts about Tompkins getting engaged and Garofalo’s disinterest in having kids, among other things. In between the ostensible headliners, Kristen Schaal did a high concept performance comedy piece, purposely acting flustered and not seeming quite sure of herself, and Jon Glaser appeared in the guise of a misguided rabbi making announcements for made-up events, for comedic effects.

Each of the headliners performed for just about 20 minutes to comprise the show. The material and the audience’s reaction to it were more along the lines of what Cross described in his own set as the phenomenon that happens in artsy New York movie theaters, where a character might make a reference to Kierkergaard and evoke a knowing, nearly silent but open-mouthed laugh.

Tompkins tapped a similar vein -- doing an exaggerated impression of New Yorkers who don’t believe there’s a “rest of the world,” saying “Whaddya need to go to China for? We got Chinatown. Why ever go to ‘Big’ Italy? We got Little Italy, it’s a manageable size.”

The energy of a show can sometimes be affected by the venue or the set-up, and because of the high demand for Cross, Tompkins and Garofalo sharing a bill, 92Y Tribeca was set up on this night without many seats, more like a standing room rock show. It’s commendable because these performers could command a higher ticket price or play a bigger venue, but they went for a venue and price where more people could get to see them -- even if they are all-knowing New Yorkers like those they described in their sets.




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