From the linguistic dexterity and poetic brilliance of the late George Carlin to the rapid-fire, quick-witted, rage-filled rants of the inimitable Lewis Black, I’ve been lucky enough to witness comedic genius in action on quite a number of occasions. As stated in a previous post, storytelling — of which, as I see it, stand-up comedy is a specialized subset — is, in it’s highest form, an art. And Neal Brennan’s inspired performance at the Lynn Redgrave Theater served as a stark reminder of this fact.
3 Mics is, literally, just that — three microphones on a stage. And yet, it is so much more. It is a transcendence of the genre in both form and content. Mr. Brennan opens the show at downstage right, shifts to downstage left, and finishes downstage center, with each movement concealed by a blackout, alternating between the mics throughout the show. The first mic represents Mr. Brennan’s observations (how he sees the world), and are presented in the form of one-liner jokes. The second mic represents his thoughts (the way his mind works), and are related in stand-up formulation. The final mic is reserved for his feelings (emotional stuff, as it is simply put in the program), and is discharged in a no-frills, standard storytelling platform that makes no obvious attempts to play for laughs. Mr. Brennan covers substantial ground, from the overarching themes of race, politics, gender and sexuality to the personal trappings of family, romantic relationships, friendship, depression and self-esteem, drawing from both keen observations and deeply personal experiences. The result is sophisticated, hilarious, endearing and enlightening, and achieves something special, something rarely seen, something outlying typical description: a sense that the audience has witnessed something new.
3 Mics is running through April 9th. For more information and to buy tickets, visit the show’s website.
Note: If you’ve never heard of Neal Brennan, you’re not alone, though you’ve likely appreciated his work without even knowing it, most notably as the co-writer and co-creator of the critical and popular phenomenon known as the Chappelle’s Show. You can also catch his stand-up special on Comedy Central.
45 Bleecker St
Pair it with:
Dinner at Cafe Habana
Before or after the show, make your way to Cafe Habana, located at the corner of Prince and Elizabeth Streets, just a short jaunt away. Based on a busy luncheonette in downtown Mexico City that still, to this day, serves as a popular hangout for musicians, this Nolita outpost of the diner staple serves excellent Cuban-Mexican comfort food. Whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner you can’t go wrong at Cafe Habana. Make sure to try the Mexican-style grilled corn with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder and lime– it’s ba-na-nas!
17 Prince St
9am to Midnight