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Comedy That’s Not Kidding

“Totally J/K” intermingles an affordable taste of New York’s best stand-up with creative hosting duo.

By Marshall Stratton / Jester correspondent

Brooklyn-based stand-up comics and stars of VH-1’s “Best Day Ever,” Joe Mande and Noah Garfinkel, presented their own night of fellow stand-ups, “Totally J/K,” an ongoing monthly show at the UCB Theatre, on April 27.

Together, Mande and Garfinkel play off each other’s personas, with Mande delivering snappy views and Garfinkel being neurotic. They opened the show with a conceit about all the great and hilarious things that their supposed satellite radio audience won’t get to see when the show is broadcast. Mande cracked about the plethora of celebrities attending the show, including Zach Galifianakis and Seth Meyers. Both comedians decided instead of showing videos of old people, they would tell stories about the elderly. The highlight was hearing Joe describe his grandmother’s boyfriend who apparently fingered the family dog’s butthole. The boyfriend would also fill each crossword puzzle out in the house with only the word “lemonade.”

The opening comic, Kevin Barnett, a young (24) and self-described “manchild” had a solid set. He told the crowd he hated living in New York because it’s “slowing turning me into a black Jewish hipster.” He complained of just wanting to go to a party dressed as Wolverine and not be seen as the “black Wolverine.” He stated Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has so much money he could dedicate a room in his house to blasting techno music and having money raining down all over the room.

Before bringing on both featured comedian Julian McCullough and headlining performer Kurt Braunohler (last chronicled in the Blog’s account of the ECNY awards March 15), Mande in particular digressed with more conceptual comedy, heavy on surreal stories. One piece was a story of how his childhood bus driver told a bus full of kids that he was moving to Los Angeles to be a porn star. The driver however returned three weeks later unsuccessful.

Mande’s other piece started with him recalling chopping jalapeños and using the restroom after that without washing his hands. While he was “giving birth to a fire baby,” his wok full of food set off the smoke alarm. All of this happens in a span of four minutes while his girlfriend picked up the laundry. She returns to find him naked in the bathtub with milk all over his genitals. “Dinner’s ready!” he exclaims. Garfinkel also presented his own pieces between the duo’s guests.

McCullough, who has collected Comedy Central and NPR credits, and currently warms up audiences for The Colbert Report, took on the drawbacks of being self-employed as a comedian, especially when it comes to healthcare. When his appendix burst, treatment ended up costing $45,000. McCullough vocalized his frustrations that the bill came in full and had no business being amongst the usual smaller bills. He exclaimed that the bill should have come in a “black envelope with skull and crossbones on it!”

Braunohler’s set stayed closer to traditional stand-up than he usually does. He opened by making fun of the signs on the NYC subway that say two drinks ago you could have gotten home. The photo features a girl asleep on the steps at the subway entrance. He wanted to see a series of photos of the girl waking up in Coney Island and Flushing, Queens. Another set would be on the Airtrain, and asked, “How did she transfer!” He also wished to see her on a flight to Belgium, wondering, “Where did she get her passport from!?!” He ended the set by telling a story about he writes down his ideas on post-it notes and hangs them all over his wall at his apartment. He also jokingly put up a people to kill list and the last name was listed as “Random.” He brought a girl home and she was concerned after seeing the people to kill list. He explained the joke of it and she calmed down. He then crossed off the random listing at the bottom of the list and she darted for the door. Braunohler deftly topped all this off with a callback, “She should have left two drinks ago.”

Mande and Garfinkel closed last month’s edition of “Totally J/K” as always with their “List of Nothing,” a slide show including puns and unfinished comedic ideas, such as “Linkin Navigator,” the bus driver for the band Linkin Park. “Markey Market,” “,” “Gnomeo Country for Old Men,” the “Gnomeo and Juliet” movie sequel and “Flourid-a,” the dentist rapper. The duo closed the show with one last reference to their satellite radio audience missing their visual humor, as they both slowly creep offstage.

“Totally J/K” showcases some of the best and most creative New York stand-up comedy, as seen in this performance, well-framed by its hosts, who channel a lot of creativity into their material that defines the overall feel and flow of the show.

“Totally J/K” returns to the UCB Theatre 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25.



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