I have attended the literary/comedy variety night I’m New Here–Can You Show Me Around? at Union Hall in Brooklyn about five times now. Well done to hosts Jon Ronson and Maeve Higgins for another gobsmackingly good line-up at March’s show. Coincidentally, rather than a smattering of comedians, authors, and journalists, last night’s show was booked entirely with standup comics. The lack of diversity in format did not detract from the show, though, because they were all top acts.
Jon Ronson told his jon_ronson story, which spurred the idea for his brand new book, which in itself led to some Twitter-shaming last month. Maeve Higgins treated us to a new story about parties and the perils of almonds. She is working on her second book of essays.
First of all, you need to check out Pat Brown, who stayed on topic (the theme of the show is people who are new to New York), being a transplant from Georgia. We got the imitation of the homeless-man-in-the-subway-speech, which a lot of comics do, but it still hasn’t gotten old. Maybe I couldn’t relate to everything, like different lunch programs in school, but nothing is funnier than getting your own neighborhood (Harlem) caricatured!
Jon Ronson said that this show is like the scrappy underground comedy nights he used to attend in London, often hosted by Robin Ince or Josie Long. Robin Ince was in town for The Infinite Monkey Cage and was added to the bill. This was the best of Robin Ince all in one short set–the science jokes, making fun of Brian Cox, impressions, and an unraveling of thought that left many stories half-told and new exciting tangents discovered. To me at least, it was all new material, except the Richard Feynman impression, which was appropriate given Feynman’s New York (my old stomping grounds, Rockaway) origin.
Mehran Khaghani admits that he leans heavily on his gay Iranian schtick. But it works. Mehran is full of energy and captivates his audience immediately. He noted it was funny they were ending on the vulgarian comedian because, while the rest of the show had its usual swearyness, Mehran pushed the boundaries with dick jokes. But also a story leading to the ultimate moral: live, make mistakes, regret nothing.
The show ends with a question to the audience and a selected winner. Last night asked the question popular in Time Out New York: Overheard in New York. The “prize” went to someone talking about their roommate whose dad had died, but the ultimate winner of all time, in my opinion, still has to be the answer to the question “Do you want to die in New York, why or why not?” to which the winning response was something like, “Yes because I want my death to seem insignificant to my neighbors but glamorous to everyone back home.” That’s the New York experience.
You, too, can attend I’m New Here if you can get yourself to Park Slope in Brooklyn. First Tuesday of the month. Buy tickets online ahead of time (only ten bucks, guys!) because they will probably sell out before doors. The weather was doing that wintry-mix thing last night and still the show was sold out and packed to the aisles.