Art of the Stand-Up Comic brings together a quintet of gut-busting talents who elicit laughter in one evening of tag-team hilarity. Carole Montgomery shows off the wickedly deadpan sarcasm that has won her gigs on Comedy Central, ABC, and MTV, whereas the author of The Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing, Jim Mendrinos, tickles ribs with wry observational rants. Voice actor extraordinaire Brian Scott McFadden has lent his talents to such films as Ice Age II and Robots and interlaces high-energy monologues with hilarious impressions and characters. Also taking the stage, the youngest female comic to ever perform on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, Liz Miele, mixes self-deprecating sarcasm with cutting insight, and Lori Sommer shows off the improvisational powers that led her to cofound the renowned Red Tie Mafia Improv Troupe.
The art-deco splendor of Radio City Music Hall melds with the show's sets to create an otherworldly atmosphere Time praised as a "perfect union of site and spectacle." Backdrops of oversize gears and coiling snakes rise to the top of the 60-foot proscenium arch, and projections show off eerie sand paintings on the surrounding walls. Anthemic rock music by Australian electropop prodigy Nick Littlemore blasts through the pipes of the Mighty Wurlitzer, modified to twist ominously like a sinister American Bandstand dancer.
Inspired by acts in Las Vegas and around the country, entertainers and pianists cover rock classics on twin grand pianos at Ha! Comedy Club's weekly Dueling Pianos extravaganza. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, dueling performers tickle the ivories and—when competition becomes especially fierce—each other, fielding crowd requests for pop favorites from the 1960s through to today. Musicians such as Mark Rivera, saxophonist for Billy Joel, join in the fun on stage as the kitchen and full bar keep the audience nourished with snacks and libations.
Hosting the evening's set, the historic Gramercy Theatre first opened its doors in 1937 and spent some 60 years as a movie palace and art house. Now wedged between two skyscrapers, it still retains some art-deco columns and flourishes striped into its façade. Inside, an intimate main room shares space with the eclectic Samsara Lounge where persian rugs and funky wall art imbue audiences with a rock 'n' roll spirit and inspire the spontaneous formation of nomadic tribes.
At the intersection of St. Marks Place and Second Avenue in the East Village, the 299-seat Orpheum Theatre has been staging performances and projecting films behind its red-brick, neo-classical façade for more than a century. What the interior lacks in old world grandness, it more than makes up in intimacy, thanks to its two narrow levels, which makes every seat in the house a good one. Achieving greater notoriety in the 1980s for premiering the musical Little Shop of Horrors, the theater went on to become the home of the percussive Stomp, which has lived here since 1994. Since then, the walls have gradually filled with a mélange of street-life ephemera related to the show; subway signs, motorcycle parts, chains and metal scaffolding all give the room a theatrically urban ambiance.
Before the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts was even built, the idea for its Chamber Music Society was born. American composer and Lincoln Center President William Schuman helped specially design a recital hall in which the chamber group could play more than three centuries worth of musical compositions. But the Chamber Music Society didn't stay contained within its venue. Throughout the following half century, its musicians collaborated with dance companies, jazz projects, and festivals, helping to spread awareness and appreciation of their craft throughout the city.