UCBT shows and performers named in TONY's Best of Comedy 2008Time Out New York December 16, 2008
Comedy: The best (and worst) of 2008
by Jane Borden
Most exciting surprise guest:
When Robin Williams showed up at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in November asking if he could perform, Harold team Bangs was about to take the stage. Not only was the audience treated, but eight comics got to play with a legend.
Best new stand-ups:
In showcases, Joe Mande and Sean Patton consistently outshine the more seasoned stand-ups who follow.
Most deserved “finally” moments:
Success has been a long-time coming for Jamie Denbo and Jessica Chaffin (Ronna & Beverly’s All Jew Revue); Kimmy Gatewood, Rebekka Johnson and Sarah Lowe (The Apple Sisters Variety Show); and Charlie Sanders (Minnesota Muslim). We think they’ve finally found the right vehicles.
Biggest breakout: Last year Aubrey Plaza was in an indie improv troupe and had a supporting role in a Web series. Now she plays Seth Rogen’s love interest in Judd Apatow’s forthcoming Funny People, just scored a still-secret part in a much-buzzed TV pilot and landed yet another on-the-DL role in a predicted box-office hit. FYI: She’s 24.
Most banging out: Mother’s finale was also one of the best shows of the improv group’s nine-year run. It got a ludicrously long standing O as proof.
Best improv show: Gravid Water, the comedy-meets-plays experiment, is not just humorous; it’s fascinating.
Report card: This year’s most exciting trend is the one bending away from ironic observational humor toward a more candid, confessional style. I’ve sat in rooms and felt the energy disappear when a stand-up starts mocking from afar, only to watch audience members reengage when the next comic makes himself vulnerable. For whatever reason, New Yorkers are craving connection right now, the most obvious culmination of which is the growing interest in storytelling shows. The Moth routinely turns away dozens at the door, Nights of Our Lives has become one of the UCBT’s hottest shows and Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk with Me is exceeding expectations off Broadway. This curve will only accelerate as the economy worsens: Detachment is a luxury of the elite.
FINAL GRADE: A-