Comedy: Dot Comedy
Ah, slapstick comedy. It’s the kind of thing you can address one of two ways: you can roll your eyes in irritation, claiming that you’re far too mature to get a rise out of anything so juvenile as a person catching on fire, or you can lighten up and agree that watching a person catch on fire is and will always be really, really funny.
CollegeHumor.com began in 1999 out of the dorm rooms of Josh Abramson and Ricky Van Veen, relying entirely on word-of-mouth promotion to get off the ground. The site’s popularity has since grown considerably, now averaging about 80 million monthly viewers. It features videos, pictures and articles—all either user-submitted or from the adolescently stunted minds of the 10-person editorial staff—that, according to editors Jeff Rubin and Streeter Seidell, embody CollegeHumor’s three pillars: drinking, sex and shame.
Not content to reach its audience solely while they’re bored in class or putting off writing a paper, CollegeHumor began its monthly live standup comedy show last week at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to a crowd full of frat boys both past and present.
“The great thing about [the UCB Theatre] is that there’s little separation between the audience and the performer,” said Seidell, who, as a result of nervousness or too much coffee, was sweating profusely throughout the night.
Comedienne Jacqueline Novak began the show with jokes so vulgar they could only be told by a woman. Novak maintained an impish, docile gaze throughout her act, as if she were only half-aware of the fact that she was discussing—in no uncertain terms—her preferred sexual positions with a roomful of strangers. Next came the ever-abrasive Pete Holmes, who relied on Joe College’s love of Facebook, YouTube and Subway sandwiches to get a rise out of the audience. Finally, Christian Finnegan ended the night with a little something to offend everyone: minorities, sexual deviants and video gamers, to name a few ( “I’m just glad he didn’t go into my dad being in jail for attempted murder,” his wife Kambri confided after the show).
Peppered throughout the show were bits of standup from Rubin and Seidell, as well as a jaunt from CollegeHumor staffers Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld. It was all funny enough, although it paled in comparison to the caliber of hilarity that can be found (sometimes) on the website. Plain and simple, it’s funnier to laugh at what you can see that’s shameless and disgusting than to hear someone talk about it. Still, when grown men talk shop about each other’s testicles, it’s amusing. It just is.
“Honestly I think that Streeter and Jeff doing standup was my favorite part of the show,” said audience member Petra Cramer. “Pete Holmes was funny, too.”
The featured comedians are some of Rubin and Seidell’s favorites, the duo said.
“For us, the standup thing is very selfish in a way,” Seidell said. “It’s like when you hear a great new band and want to be the one to tell your friends about it.”
“Only we don’t see music, we see comedy,” Rubin said. “I think [this show] went great.”
“Aside from the sweating,” Seidell added.
Rumors have been flying (OK, maybe not flying, but slowly circulating) about the possibility of a CollegeHumor feature-length film. According to Rubin and Seidell, though, no concrete plans exist—at least that they’re aware of. CollegeHumor made a deal with Paramount Pictures a year ago to start working through concepts for a script, they said, but the idea has since failed to materialize.
Beyond the standup, Rubin and Seidell aren’t quite sure where CollegeHumor may go from here.
“We don’t plan, we just do,” Rubin said.
“Yeah, we just take it day by day,” Seidell said. “We just see what rolls into our inboxes and work from there.”
Wait, no real plan? How can this be? A company cannot simply rest its entire livelihood in the hands of unpredictable and drugged-out college kids.
“College kids are a lot smarter than people give them credit for,” Seidell said. “It’s not as much of a gamble as it seems.”
“CollegeHumor Live NYC, “ takes place every third Thursday. Upright Citizens Brigade, 307 W. 26th St. (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.), 212-366-9176; 9:30, $5.
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