Hitting Their Comedy Mark

On a freezing night in January, comedian Matt McCarthy brought his band of Irish (and non-Irish) rebels to The Ace Hotel for the first installment of ‘Marking Out,’ his new monthly comedy series.

This is the type of show where if you show up late, you won’t get a seat. Not necessarily because it’s sold out, but because arriving late is rude and McCarthy and his bearded buddy Sean Donnelly will probably berate you and ask you to leave. McCarthy, of Verizon FiOS and ‘The Other Guys’ fame, is basically a hyper kid in a grown mans’ body who has access to a microphone. He’s a very physically active comedian, never too still for too long, and the audience is usually giggling even if he’s not speaking. Not to give too much  away, but he ended his set with ‘ and that is not the first time I’ve had sex with a woman while picturing a chubby 12-year old.’

The night also included comedy tidbits from Vince Averill, Anthony Jeselnick, Hannibal Buress, and headliner Mike DeStefano. DeStefano, fresh off his appearance on Last Comic Standing, has an intense real life experience that he confronts the audience with. He talks about his heroin addiction, losing loved ones to illness, and also compares having AIDS to being Catholic – which is funny if you’re Jewish. The great thing about DeStefano is that he approaches his set as though he doesn’t care how the audience feels. He’s telling a story, and if you don’t like it, then fuck off! At one point he very bluntly states ‘you know, I should probably be booing you guys.’ But he’s Mike DeStefano, and just as he shocks the audience with his tale of family illness, he brings them back in with his humor.

The show is a mixture of stand-up, short videos by Front Page Films, and a very ‘in yo face’ performance by Adira Amram and The Experience. One cannot really describe The Experience, except for the extensive neon outfits that help dilate your pupils. Adira and her fabulous dances come at you, back up a little bit, and then come back at you again. The Experience would have an easy time holding up a banks, since the audience is half entertained and half ‘what the hell is going on?’

‘Marking Out’ Hosted by Matt McCarthy can be seen the 3rd Monday of each month at Liberty Hall in the Ace Hotel.

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Gold Mine for Feinstein

Rachel Feinstein looks as though she could be competing in a beauty pageant with her trademark dress and high heels. If you added a sash and tiara, you might be looking at Miss New York. But you’re not, you’re looking at the very funny Ms. Feinstein, fresh off being a finalist in this summer’s Last Comic Standing. She brings with her an array of voices that make her a unique player on the comedy scene. In a way, she’s the female counterpart to Frank Caliendo, albeit skinnier and more Jewish. No, she doesn’t do celebrity impersonations, only because the people she mimicks aren’t famous, yet.

Feinstein played a packed Gotham Comedy Club to tape her Comedy Central CD. It was full of a wide variety of Jews from all parts New York, as well as host Cipha Sounds. She opened with her story about dating a few guys and her mother’s reaction to certain sex acts she might be involved in. In typical Rachel fashion, it’s not just the reaction, it’s the character reaction that she jumps into, compete with facial contortions and bizarre impressions. She transitions from her mother to her grandmother to the guy she’s dating to the construction worker on the corner to a Dorothy-in-The-Wizard-of-Oz type character, all in a matter of seconds. It’s a feat of both comic timing and voice fluctuation, and she does both to the delight of the crowd.

Her best bit, by audience reaction, is her ‘Dangerous Minds’ routine. She transitions from her ‘I think I should have been a black woman’ mother to the pesky black teen who just wants to play violin. The ‘I don’t need you… you don’t know me you white bitch,’ really gets the crowd going. From a personal standpoint, I get a kick out her describing what her breasts want in her ‘Dorothy’ voice, it’s so out of place it almost belongs in an episode of The Family Guy.

You can catch Rachel and more of her characters at rachel-feinstein.com

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Things that Rhyme with Lebron

*Editors Note. This column originally ran in July of 2010, however I enjoyed it so much, I’m reposting it.

He arrived. He hung out for a little bit. Now he’s gone. But he’s not really gone, just you know, gone if you live in Cleveland. If you live in Miami, he’s just arrived. Call him what you want, but he is LeBron James and he is the most marketed athlete of our time.

He made his free agency announcement in a live one-hour special, because he is, after all, the King. The King does what the King wants, except win titles, ha! There are mixed reviews on this decision to leave Cleveland. From a business standpoint, and sports is all about business, it makes perfect sense. He needed to be with a title contender. Cleveland is ‘close’ to being a title contender, but having a bunch of role players to surround your superstar just doesn’t cut it. So Lebron needed help, and it didn’t look like the Cavaliers were getting him any. They got Antawn Jamison last year at the trade deadline, and he turned out to be a playoff bust. He may now be the next Cleveland superstar, lucky him.

So LeBron searched high and wide, or vice versa, and had to make his decision. I enjoy that the Nets have an extravagant Russian billionaire owner who thought he could sway the King. Lebron wasn’t going to the Nets, or Knicks, it just wasn’t happening. They are so far away from being contenders it’s not even funny. But best of lucky to the Sexy Serb and his 5-year championship plan – I hope it works (it won’t). So LeBron had to go where he thought he had the best chance of winning, and after Bosh signed on, he had 2 of his Olympic buddies on the same team, and the contracts began to fall into place. There is a new 3-headed monster in the NBA, and it’s the Miami Heat. This is similar to when KG and Ray signed on with the Celtics, albeit this new monster is younger and has more lift. Although, I do recall in 2004 when the Lakers signed on Gary Payton and Karl Malone to join Shaq and Kobe, only to lose to Detroit in the Finals. Ha!

More importantly than the signing, however, is Lebron’s legacy. People are either digusted or appalled at the level of ego that has gone into his team selection, and it is disgusting, but it’s also a product of the environment he has lived in. Lebron James has been wooed by the NBA since he was 16. He life has been a media circus. He was pride of Akron and he was destined to bring Cleveland a title. Or so it was thought. You can only ordain someone so many times before they believe their own hype, and clearly Mr. James does.  There is no question he is a great player, but is he a great player when it counts the most? He wasn’t in the playoffs when he kept getting sent home early, and that separates a great player from a championship player. Clearly he needs the support structure, and now (we think) he has it in Miami. He will be allowed to have an off night. I mean, he clearly has to win the title, but he has a much better chance now than in Cleveland. His eye is on the prize, and the prize may be in Miami.

Now, basketball aside, he is coming off as an egotistical douchebag, and the Heat will be the most hated NBA team next season. Most people normally hate the Lakers, and for good reason. They suck. Now, everytime Lebron takes the court, especially in selected cities, he will be booed out of the arena.  The build up to his free agency and the television special, both unnecessary, were a product of the media and an audience who enjoy a spectacle. I expected the fans to be disappointed, although I think owner Dan Gilbert went a little too far with his bitterness. Your star was a free agent and went to a better team, sometimes stars do that. He shouldn’t have guaranteed a title for Cleveland before Lebron gets one, that’s just dumb. He shouldn’t have called Lebron a coward. People use that term for terrorists and gunmen, not free agent athletes. He should have taken the high road and said he was disappointed on the decision but wishes Lebron the best of luck. Or not. Actually, next time the WWE is in Cleveland, I’d like Dan Gilbert to be the guest host so he can cut a promo on how much he hates Lebron and then hit a guy in a Miami Heat jersey with a folding chair. Now that would be spectacle.

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