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New York Story

Manhattan Comedy Collective finds a conducive venue by moving uptown

The Manhattan Comedy Collective’s debut in its new space, Sage Theater, just off Times Square, finds the group in a home more suited to its style.

The latest edition of its showcase “The Big Bang,” presents comedy closer in tone to what a Broadway audience would enjoy and ought to attract audiences that overflow from the Broadway shows. In fact, the house was already full on the group’s first Friday night in the new space.

The show itself was still a bit uneven, but definitely had its highlights. Duo Laura Dillman and Dave Koenig started the show as Liza Minelli and Dean, a comic foil for her, who squabble more than they stick to their songs. Liza and Dean returned between the other two groups for more. Koenig hits a comic note with noticeably sub-par singing compared to “Liza,” and Dillman completely inhabits the Liza persona.

Also on the bill were BookClub, an improvisational group that draws on books for its performances -- on this evening it was “Charlotte’s Web.” Lastly, duo Andrew Cartozian and Josh Wallach, “Lunch,” mix up some voice dialogue comedy delivered from backstage with sketches before the audience.

BookClub was a little too reliant on directly lifting plot points from “Charlotte’s Web,” but did hit on some original notes in their performance. Group members Alan Harris and Walter Murphy made the strongest impression, with versatility conjuring characters including a parent sending 11- and 9-year-old children off to boarding school, because “we’re done,” as well as God himself calling one of the girls a slut for making out with a boy and making a boy fail in school simply because “God hates him.”

Lunch’s choicest morsels were its opening scene, an “exercise,” where Cartozian and Wallach play each other in what turns out to be an extended session of insults, along with a sketch where Wallach plays a substitute preacher to Cartozian’s congregant. Wallach’s preacher punctuates every word with “-eth” and “-ither,” along with other nonsense like “doth Vader” and “five-saken.”

Some of the audio bits also score, such as one in which a demanding Wall Streeter orders a solid gold Ferrari or at least a diamond crusted one; another in which John McCain mocks Rudolph Guiliani’s more liberal social positions by telling him to “fly away you gay bird,” and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama dance around as to whether one will run for President or the other, depending on who chooses to do what and when.

Lunch’s failings came in other sketches that went on a little too long on flimsy premises, like inept comic duo “1-800-SHTICK,” who play the Southern Westchester circuit, if there is such a thing, and Cartozian’s father who describes his brood of weird children.

It could be said that MCC’s move to its new space (from previous stints at Juvie Hall and Jimmy’s Number 43 downtown), is like living in New York itself -- it has its ups and downs but within that has unique offerings that can’t be found anywhere else.




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