This Saturday night a new monthly comedy show, “Dark Spots” makes its debut at New York City’s infamous “Creek and the Cave” comedy club. “Dark Spots” is a stand up comedy show, where the theme is dark comedy. With the rise of storytelling forms of comedy, dark humor is increasingly making its way into comedy clubs, and onto podcasts, albums and specials. But you haven’t heard much about dark stand up shows until now. So we talked with the shows producers and hosts Alison Zeldman, Shane Torres and Nate Fridson, and asked them, what is dark stand up, and why is it something they decided to put into a comedy show.
“Dark stand up comedy,” Shane explained, “is different from storytelling. It’s whatever dark subject we pick and adding the craftsmanship of comedy to it. And writing it into material as opposed to reading from a diary or something like that.”
In other words, dark stand up comedy has to have jokes. According to the trio, it can be the subject matter, or the approach that makes stand up dark. For Alison, she says he doesn’t set out to be dark but she doesn’t shy away from it either. She’s done comedy about her father passing away, for example, . For Nate, he’s talked about death in the family, as well as things about disease that people in my family have experienced, feelings of dread, domestic abuse, domestic violence, depression and anxiety. And Shane takes an entirely different dark approach– talking about things that were traumatic to him as a child, like feeling bad at an athletic event or his discomfort around sports.
Their dark comedy inspiration came from strong sources, with names like C.K., Maron, Bamford, the late Greg Giraldo, and Chris Rock coming up. Louis for the way he talks to his kids, Maron, because of his material about depression. Shane sees Bamford’s darkness as a completely different vehicle from CK or Maron, when she talks about how challenging her OCD issues have been for her. Alison sees Rock’s comedy as dark, because he mastered”the idea of joking about things you’re not supposed to talk about” Nate brought up that “Giraldo talked about his demons in a dark way, and in a way that made it more accessible.” But then on the flip side, he said, people who are known for being clean can turn out to be dark souls. “Bill Cosby is a perfect example” Nate said. That guy did squeaky clean material for like 50 years, and that guy turned out to be just a monster.”
Allison set out to create an all dark comedy show so that they would be able to develop material without worrying that the audience was uncomfortable with the subject matter. She also hopes to help audiences get comfortable with the idea that comics can help you process things by addressing these topics. When you label the show dark, you don’t have to be concerned about making sure you keep it light for the audience. “So here your audience is at least on board that this might go to dark places” Alison explained.
But…it has to be funny.
Head out to Long Island City this Saturday, May 30 at 10pm, as comedy club The Creek & The Cave presents :Dark Spots”, a brand new stand-up comedy showcase where the city’s best comedians will perform their darkest material. The theme for the May 30 show is Dark Spots: Childhood Trauma, with an all-star line-up featuring: Clark Jones (Comedy at The Knitting Factory), Marcia Belsky (Creep), Casey James Salengo (Brooklyn Comedy Festival), Jordan Temple (New York Comedy Festival) and sketch group Murderfist. Torres, Fridson, and Zeidman will host. For more information on Dark Spots and other free comedy events at The Creek & The Cave, visit creeklic.com.