In 2006, one week before I moved to NYC I came up here with a band I was managing at the time, The Gaskets. I had already signed a lease so I brought up a car load of stuff and ended up sleeping on the floor of my apartment because I was so happy to have my first New York apartment. Eight years later I am still in that apartment, but that has nothing to do with this post.
That night The Gaskets played a show at some bar that probably doesn’t exist anymore but while we were there we met comedian Zak Orth and his girlfriend (now wife) Kat. They loved the Gaskets and ended up taking us all to Ruff Club and Kat invited me to a weekly comedy show called Sweet at the Slipper Room in the LES.
I immediately became a regular and was going nearly ever week for probably a year or two. At some point the Slipper Room had some crazy renovations and it was closed for a few years. Sweet moved all over the place and ended up at Ella for a while before moving back to the Slipper Room when it opened a couple years ago. Clearly my timeline is very precise. During the move I started going to Sweet less and less often but I still try and make sure to check it out every now and then. It’s always very funny and an excellent place to take a lady.
Anyway, Sweet turned 10 this week and I caught the last of three anniversary shows last night. The show is hosted by Seth Herzog who is actually one of my oldest friends in NYC since I met him the first week I moved to NYC. I think he hated me for a while because we were both hanging out with the same girl but I’ve always loved the guy. Really proud of him and the show and how big it has become.
Last night Seth pulled out all the stops. Normally he has one co-host but this week he had four! Dion Flynn was the most active co-host, but Questlove was DJing, Jess Hudak was singing and playing piano as comedians came on and Seth’s mom, a weekly show highlight, asked comedians questions before they left the stage. She also freestyle rapped at some point.
The show opened with an extended monologue from Seth recounting the last 10 years of the show followed by a supremely weird act by the owners of the Slipper Room that involved ironing a veal cutlet that Seth then ate. If he is dead right now let it be said that he gave his life for comedy.
Up next was Ted Alexandro who I have seen do stand up a bunch of times but I never realized that he has a web series that he does with my old friend Hollis James. I found that out while googling him to make sure I got his name right and I haven’t watched it yet, but I will and clearly you guys should too. He did a bit about a pot brownie that lasted 36 hours and then performed a song for Seth and his mom to dance to. It was that kinda night.
At some point there were a series of contests to win Seth Olenick’s new book of comedy portraits Funny Business. I was pretty jealous of the winners and I gotta get a copy of the book at some point. As a big photo book collector and comedy nerd it’s a must have for my shelf.
Next up was the always hilarious Kurt Braunohler who used to host a show with Kristen Schaal called Hot Tub that was always fantastic. I’ve known Kurt for years too as he was a judge on the first LVHRD events I ever went to. My buddy Drop The Lime was another judge that night. And Doug from LVHRD was at Sweet last night. LVHRD doesn’t exist anymore but it’s worth a Google… Oh, by the way it was probably the best Kurt set I have seen and I have seen a lot of his sets.
After Seth’s mom freestyled with Shockwave and Victor Varnado my dude Hannibal Burress killed it as always. I haven’t seen him since he did a joke where he told me to fuck myself in the middle of his last Comedy Central special so it was good to see him and find out that he didn’t actually want to murder me. He’s one of the funniest humans on earth so normally a show would go down hill from there but this was no ordinary comedy show!
Next up was the legendary Jeff Ross. Now that Joan Rivers is dead he’s just gotta outlive Don Rickles to become the greatest living insult comic. He did a set making fun of Joan Rivers which was probably the most touching roast I’ve ever seen the guy give and then went into other dead celebrity jokes including Robin Williams. If pretty much any other comedian did that they would be booed off the stage, but you know Joan and Robin would have been more upset if he didn’t do stand up on their graves.
Artie Lange was essentially the closer and did a set that went from hilarious to offensive to depressing and back again. This is a guy who nearly stabbed himself to death while losing his mind on heroin just a couple years ago. He’s dangerously overweight and constantly joked about his own death. His jokes stepped over the line into just blatantly racist a number of times. Yet for all that he still managed to kill at points in his set. He said “you have to live a little bit for comedy” and he’s a guy who has lived 10 lives for comedy. It was brilliant and sad at the same time and his set alone was well worth the price of admission.
The night ended with a cameo from regular Sweet co-host Justin Long who you couldn’t walk a block in the LES without running into him a few years ago. (He literally ran into me once actually.) He’s in LA now but was in NYC promoting a movie and got a chance to stop by Sweet. He and most of the other comedians then performed the creepiest rendition of We Are The World ever where they took turns impersonating celebrities. The perfect ending to a fantastic night of super weird underground comedy, which is exactly what Sweet has delivered every week for the last 10 years.
So congrats Seth and everyone else go look at the photos!