Talking Up Downtown: Rory Albanese
Writer and executive producer, 'The Daily Show'
By Mark Peikert
For the second time this year, 92YTribeca will play host to the minds behind Comedy Central's The Daily Show with The Daily Show Live: Stand-up Comedy from The Daily Show's Staff. Hosted by Emmy Award-winning writer and executive producer Rory Albanese, the night features correspondents, writers and graphic designers trying their hand at entertaining audiences below Canal Street. The next performance will be Thursday, Feb. 9 at 9 p.m.; we caught up with Albanese over the phone about the event-and why Richard Nixon impressions still happen.
Why a group stand-up show?
We've done other shows. We work with a lot of people who do stand-up outside of their day-to-day job at The Daily Show-we've always tried to do our best to encourage people to have other creative outlets in the sense that this place can be overwhelming. And it's great for younger stand-ups. I know for me it helped a lot when I first started working here-it kind of gets you in the door. So it's a way to put together a show and let some of the people inside of the building who perform and who are very funny get out and do it.
What makes 92YTribecca a good fit?
We did [shows] for a while at Comix, which closed down. At a comedy club, it's different. There's a two-drink minimum and you have to have dinner-we're not doing this as a way to generate money. And 92Y kind of came to us and asked if we wanted to take that show and alter it a little bit and do it at their space.
Do people show up expecting political humor because of The Daily Show connection?
I think sometimes people expect a certain kind of humor from The Daily Show staff and they get something else. When you get one of the correspondents up there, you kind of know what you're going to get from their style. I'll put it this way: We were very careful in how we advertised the show so people wouldn't think it was a live performance of the show. I try to give my best political jokes to the show!
The first show we did went really well because we had a really great crowd and we all were a little rusty. I hadn't done stand-up in a while and I was hosting, and it was fun for me. What was nice about it was we had the time on stage, so I went a little long and everyone was kind of finding their material. 92Y is open to different forms of entertainment, so they've been great. And there's a balance to what we're doing.
Who will be included this time around?
JR Havlan, Elliot Kalan. John Oliver may be the headliner. And then one of our graphics guys, Mike Hogan, wants to try stand-up, so he'll do a little five-minute set. It's just a great way to get the staff to come outside, instead of me sitting in a green room in Baltimore with a bunch of road warriors. For me, it's great because I love having some of the guys I work with [there], particularly John Oliver-we'll watch each other's acts and give notes. And John's one of the reasons my doing stand-up turned into a half-hour special.
So will this become a regular thing?
I think we're gonna try to do it once a month, and as we do it, I hope more and more of the staff will come down.
I just got an image of Jon Stewart coming to the show and getting outraged that you used better jokes for it than you gave him.
[Laughs] The other night I was watching the State of the Union, and I was writing down the jokes for the next day on my laptop and some of them were coming out like tweets and I thought, Uh oh. Can't do it! But my priority will always be the show, and getting jokes on the show is super rewarding. Getting a big laugh live is rewarding.
I did a half-hour special a year or so ago and now I'm trying to work on a new act, and that new act can't be as instantly topical as what we do on the show. You want a nice mix of topical and evergreen. We've all seen comedy and stand-up where somebody has been doing the same act forever. We always joke about the impressionist who will say one topical thing and then segue into his Richard Nixon impression. "Did you hear what the president said about Segways? Have you ever wondered what Richard Nixon would look like on a Segway?"
The Daily Show Live: Stand-up Comedy from The Daily Show's Staff
Feb. 9, 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St. (betw. Desbrosses and Vestry Sts.), 92y.org/tribeca; 9 p.m., $15.
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