I’m New Here–Can You Show Me Around, a show for new-to-New-Yorkers
Jon Ronson and Maeve Higgins make for excellent hosts to this new monthly popular (night #1 sold out!) yet intimate story-telling series at Union Hall in Brooklyn. It’s rip-roaring and tear-jerking and everything in between (and with dancing dogs and suicide by polar lake exposure, I do mean everything). Jon Ronson (who you’ll know from his books, investigative journalism articles, and new movie Frank) explained how he’d moved from London to New York on a whim, practically by accident; meanwhile Maeve Higgins (who you’ll know from her comedy, book, and articles for the Irish Times) had visions of the American Dream as a little girl growing up in Ireland. Jon played a clip of the spambot episode of Channel Flip’s Esc & Ctrl (an excellent choice–I’m a big fan of both Esc & Ctrl and Channel Flip as a whole and think the series deserved more attention), and Maeve read some things she #OverheardInNewYork when she first arrived, and she reenacted her polite Irish way of dealing with come-ons from crazy people on the subway. She brilliantly encapsulated what it feels like to live in New York in one sentence, which was something like, “Sometimes, I wonder if I actually did move to New York or if I just moved fully into my own head.” We were also treated to a clip of Pudsey at Britain’s Got Talent, as Jon’s anxieties about moving to New York were, perhaps unfairly, redirected into new-found hatred of the talented, pampered dog.
Then, legendary Mike Daisey of Maine delighted us with an emotional tale of moving to New York and how it’s a horrible place, but “You will have to choose some place to die. It might as well be here.” During a Q&A Jon conducted with him, Mike opened up about his attempt at suicide and the This American Life scandal. After three years of researching people who’ve been publicly shamed, Jon was surprised to find that Mike’s experience is the only one lacking lasting damage. While Mike stands by that he is damaged from these events, he accepted Jon’s observation that he is at least less damaged than the others.
Following this, Maeve conducted her own Q&A with Alexandra, a woman she met working at some event space under a railway. While less engaging than master story-artist Mike Daisey, her tales of moving from Ecuador and passing through every status on her mission to getting a green card were somewhat interesting. At the end, Jon and Maeve read out some “I first realized that New York wasn’t hell and that I could actually live here” stories from the audience, which included stories of nice people on the train and having a key to Gramercy Park. The winner, a story about being stuck in a train for an hour at 2am and the community the riders built among themselves, received a pop-up map.
I’m New Here–Can You Show Me Around is well on its way to becoming one of the great story series New York City has to offer, even if it does cater to the uber-narcissist crowd who just wants to hear more about how great their city is and how great they are for living there. Do check it out the first Tuesday of next month.