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
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.