Luisa Diez’s New York Comedy: A Year in Review

Everyone in comedy knows Luisa Diez, one of the cities best producers, and a gigantic supporter of everything comedy. We are so thrilled to add her outstanding look back at 2o17 in the big city to our year-end wrap-up.  If you want to keep up on what’s happening in comedy, following Luisa is a no-brainer. On Twitter @luisadieznuts and on Instagram it’s the same- @luisadieznuts!

Writing about the last year in comedy for the Interrobang has become one of my favorite annual rituals! Every time I am filled with pleasure and joy as I go through my calendar and remember all the great sets, fun shows, unforgettable parties, and really just how many wonderful people and stellar talent make up New York City comedy.

In 2016 I devoted a lot of time to comedy festivals and exploring the comedy scenes in various cities across the U.S. but in 2017, I re-focused on my roots and really dug into all the comedy New York has to offer. I started the year obsessed with watching the process comics go through in preparing and refining their sets for late night shows, specials, and albums, and was thrilled to watch Mark Normand‘s Don’t Be Yourself (Comedy Central), Michelle Wolf‘s Nice Lady, and Jerrod Carmichael‘s 8 (both HBO) after watching them each tape live (Mark and Jerrod taped at the end of 2016 but the specials were released in 2017. Still counts!). After watching live runs (sometimes in chunks) of Neal Brennan‘s 3 Mics (available on Netflix), Chris Gethard‘s Career Suicide (available on HBO), Roy Wood, Jr.‘s Father Figure (Comedy Central), Ari Shaffir‘s Double Negative, Lynne Koplitz‘s Hormonal Beast, and Hasan Minhaj‘s Homecoming King (all Netflix), it was so exciting to see the final products. In every case it is difficult to say whether the live version or the final version was better. They were all so freaking good!

Thanks to all the great clubs and shows in New York, and running 3 or 4 shows of my own, I also got to see many stand ups develop their material, often in bits and pieces, for half hours and late night shows. Some favorites this year off the top of my head: Dina Hashem, Khalid Rahmaan, Noah Gardenswartz, Joe List, Laurie Kilmartin, Myq Kaplan, and Shane Torres for Conan; Liza Treyger for Late Night with Seth Myers; Ryan Donahue for Jimmy Kimmel Live; Mike Vecchione, Pete Lee, and Joe Zimmerman for The Tonight Show; Emma Willmann, Gary Gulman, Alingon Mitra, Matteo Lane, and Carmen Lynch for Late Show with Stephen Colbert; Dan Soder and Beth Stelling for Netflix’s The Standups; and Yamaneika Saunders, Anthony Devito, Casey James Salengo, Jo Firestone, and Sam Jay for Comedy Central’s The Half Hour.

When it comes to the best live shows (and parties) of the year, I’d have to (objectively!) start with Michael Che‘s first “Secret Show” back in January at Knitting Factory, which we organized to benefit Planned Parenthood. It was a huge success and a great time, with surprise guests Cipha Sounds, Colin Quinn, Amy Schumer, Leslie Jones, Colin Jost, John Mulaney, and Mike Birbiglia.

I spent the first half of the year booking Roastmasters at The Stand, which was a challenge and a pleasure to watch. There were several truly unforgettable battles and killer judges tables this year that had me spitting with laughter and in awe of great joke-writers. In 2017 I also began working with Merrill Davis to establish Witch Hunt Comedy on the east coast in addition to the long-running LA show, making a home of New York Comedy Club and getting to be a part of this year’s New York Comedy Festival while booking top-notch, female-focused lineups; I joined Nore Davis in running Uptown Downtown, a cozy monthly bar show at Starr Bar in Brooklyn, where comics from all over New York work on new material; and I started a new weekly show, Too Many Cooks, with Samantha Ruddy, Jordan Temple, JP McDade, Dina Hashem, and Luke Touma at Lucky Jacks on the Lower East Side, which we are all very excited about.

This year we also held Mark Normand and Matt Ruby‘s tenth annual Schtick or Treat in both New York and LA! It was bigger and better than ever before with over 40 acts on each coast, the impressions were magical and the inside jokes razor-sharp, bringing literal happy tears to my face. But, as I always say: that’s one you had to be there for so don’t miss it next year!

Other best moments in comedy shows for me this year included: the last Night Train with Wyatt Cenac (#RIPNightTrain), the Comedy Cellar‘s (new regular show) New Joke Night hosted by Wil Sylvince, hanging out at Broken Comedy at Bar Matchless, Bennington Show and The Interrobang’s Comedy 101 and Big Jay Oakerson‘s Crowd Work shows at the Village Underground, Skankfest at the Creek and the Cave, Dave Chappelle at Radio City Music Hall, and Dave Chappelle’s Comedians’ Ball (trust me, there was a show!).

I also discovered a lot of new podcasts, some of which may have been around before 2017 but that I really fell in love with this year. Highlights: Keeping Joe with Sam Morrill, Joe Machi, Phil Hanley, and Liz Furiati is a hilarious look into the friendship and banter of some great comics (and also Liz!) at the Cellar; The Irish Goodbye with Mike Cannon and Mike Feeney is a really great story-telling show with two charming and oh-so-funny hosts; The Jackie and Laurie Show with Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin is that classic take on the comedy podcast: two self-absorbed comics talking spots, sets, tags, bookers, and rooms, with no guests and barely any non-comedy talk, but instead of the ubiquitous couple of young/new white men, it’s two killer, established women, which gives you a great perspective into the world and work of comedy (and they are in NY enough that I will count them as ours!); Defend Your Movie with Sean Donnelly and Farah Brook (exactly what it sounds like and I love it); Neurotica with Justin Silver and Tracey Carnazzo, in which these two talk about anxiety, sex, mental health, and generally, the problems of being humans, while being incredibly compassionate, vulnerable, and funny, too; Well Behaved with Molly Ruben-Long and Ariel Elias, which features the two telling each other stories about great, though often unsung, women in history; and Quitting Comedy with Jim Tews, in which Jim talks to other comics about the time(s) they have considered quitting comedy and why and why not.

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Luisa Diez

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