In mid-March, photographer Phil Provencio captured these images of comedian Joe Machi in Washington Square Park. We have loved Joe Machi ever since we first discovered the Sam and Joe Show at Carolines on Sunday Nights with his comedy partner Sam Morril. It was the Summer of Joe, with Machi getting a huge spotlight in the finals of Last Comic Standing 2014. Since then Machi’s been in high demand all over the country. Joe is one of the funniest and most original comics in New York.
Photographer Phil Provencio spent a March afternoon in Washington Square Park with Joe. He’s such a shy guy, he wouldn’t walk too close to the musicians in the park so he just enjoyed their playing while skulking around at a distance.
Joe himself has performed in Washington Square Park. “Last summer I told jokes here. They do a thing called Laughter in the Park. It’s supposed to bring people together through laughter.” But, he told us, “it does not.” He said they set up a microphone with a little karaoke machine speaker, and had the area roped off. There were great comics on the bill- one of them was Hari Kondabalu- but the set up wasn’t ideal. “Because when you’re in a park, people don’t laugh, he said. “It was tough to get people to listen at first cause anytime you’re doing comedy in a club its hard enough. Like sometimes at Carolines the lights are on too bright and that makes people self conscious about laughing. Imagine doing it in a park where its daylight and no one’s drinking alcohol. And people didn’t know there was going to be a comedy show.”
He added, “The set was okay but some people tried to film it, and I’m like you can’t film me. There was a couple hundred people in a big semi circle, and there was a pigeon guy feeding the pigeons. And I’m like you don’t need to feed the pigeons, they’re doing fine.”
“I was leaving the comic strip, I did the late show and it was probably like 3 in the morning, and I was on Lexington Avenue driving in front of Grand Central Station, the light turned red and I guess a High School dance, or dances had let out, and there were all these dressed up high school kids running down Lexington Avenue punching random people and each other. And like fights were breaking out, and it was crazy and it was around my car and then the light changed and I just drove off.
It’s not even a big deal when tons of high school kids fight in the street in Manhattan. That’s just normal.”
Phil also asked Joe if he had any stories to share about his better (or worse?, depending on which one of the two you ask) half, Sam Morril, who just put out a new album this year. “Yeah,” he said. “I purchased Sam’s album on Amazon and then I bought a toilet. So it says people who bought Sam’s album also may be interested in this toilet.”
Follow Joe on Twitter @JoeMachi.