Congratulations to Ian Abramson, whose weirdly wonderful touring live show “7 Minutes in Purgatory” has been picked up by Comedy Central Digital.
Since the beginning of comedy, there have been only two things you need to create a stand up comedy show- a performer, and an audience, and those two have always co-existed in the same room. That’s it. Once you bring those two elements together, you have a show. It might be a good show, or it might be a bad show, but it is a show. And you can’t have a stand up comedy show without them.
Enter Ian Abramson who decided to prove that while you still do need a performer and an audience, they do not need to be in the same room. “7 Minutes in Purgatory” is a show where comedians perform to a camera (from a rooftop, greenroom, stairwell, bathroom, whatever is available) while isolated from the audience, and the audience watches the performance, live on a screen in another room. The series has been a huge touring success at festivals all over the country. Some of the comics deliver a perfectly smooth set, which is fine, but the show is at its best when the comedians get flustered or uncomfortable from the unusual set up.
The show’s proper home, or at least its point of origin is in Chicago at The Hideout, an old old school rock club where the comics perform from the roof while the audience watches on screens inside. Abramson created the show in 2014 and since then it’s toured the country, hitting up major cities and getting into major festivals including the New York Comedy Festival, Moontower and Just for Laughs, to name a few, and now the series has a home on Comedy Central Digital. For the Comedy Central tapings, performers like Dave Hill, Matteo Lane, Liza Treyger, Roy Wood Jr., Nick Vatterott, Seaton Smith and Aparna Nancherla got into the back of a box truck in Brooklyn, put on noise cancelling headphones, and performed their sets to absolutely no one while the audience at Littlefield watched it all on screen.
Now Ian Abramson is a weird dude, and he has weird ideas. He writes for The Onion- that’s your first clue. And when he moved to Los Angeles, one of the first things he did was throw a funeral for his mentor- a prop comedian who never existed. He staged a court case for a young comedian. He’s won the title of best experimental comedian in Chicago, and more than earned it. He was also recognized as one of the ‘new faces’ at Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival last year, and he isn’t going away anytime soon.