This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


dave chappelle block party

BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Saturday, September 20, $14, 9:45
Series runs September 19-20

In September 2004, comedian Dave Chappelle put on a surprise block party in Bedford-Stuyvesant, sort of a mini-Brooklyn version of Wattstax, Mel Stuart’s seminal L.A. concert film in which Richard Pryor teamed up with a host of black musicians, including Isaac Hayes, Albert King, the Staples Singers and Carla and Rufus Thomas. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep) and photographed by Ellen Kuras (Neil Young: Heart of Gold, Blow) Block Party is Chappelle’s Wattstax for the twenty-first century. Gondry and Chappelle take viewers on a very funny trip as the comedian wanders around his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, handing out golden tickets like a black Willy Wonka, offering everyone free transportation to Brooklyn, loading buses up with a fascinating mix of people of all races. When he bumps into a college marching band, he invites them to play at the party, joining such big names as Kanye West, the reunited Fugees, Big Daddy Kane, Common, John Legend, the Roots, and Dead Prez. Gondry cuts between the preparation for the block party and the actual festivities, an infectious blend of music and comedy that makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of it all. Musical highlights include West performing “Jesus Walks” with Legend and Common, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu backing the Roots on “You Got Me,” and Talib Kweli, Common, and Fred Hampton Jr. rapping with Mos Def on “Umi Says.”

Dave Chappelle invites everyone to his Bed-Stuy block party

Dave Chappelle invites everyone to his Bed-Stuy block party

Unfortunately, the songs are not seen in their entirety, one of the film’s only drawbacks. Behind the scenes, Chappelle tickles the ivories to “Misty” and “Round Midnight,” hangs out with the bizarre white couple who live in the Broken Angel house across the street, and jokes around with Mos Def. The film avoids any overt political messages, although some of the songs deal with controversial topics. One of the sweetest moments is when Wyclef Jean plays “President” for the marching band, letting the members know they can be anything they want to be. Block Party is a shining, defining moment for Chappelle, who shortly after walked away from a $50 million Comedy Central contract, succumbing to the pressure of fame and expectation. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party is screening September 20 at 9:15 as part of BAMcinématek’s “The Source360” series, honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of the influential magazine. The two-day festival also includes George Tillman Jr.’s Notorious, a biopic about Biggie Smalls; One9’s Time Is Illmatic, a documentary about Nas; The Man with the Iron Fists, followed by a Q&A with director and star RZA; and Peter Spirer’s Rhyme & Reason, which follows the history of rap music. In addition, Pass the Mic: Ladies First — A Night of Women Emcees, with Nitty Scott, Rajé Shwari, Roxanne Shanté, and Sweet Tee, takes place in the BAMcafé on September 19 and International Hip-Hop Night, with Amkoullel, Gokh Bi System, Rebel Diaz, Shokanti, AYoinmotion, and Bocafloja, hosted by Toni Blackman, is scheduled for September 20.


Amy Schumer Carnegie Hall New York Comedy Festival

Amy Schumer will play Carnegie Hall at the eleventh annual New York Comedy Festival

November 5-9
Multiple venues

Tickets for the ten featured events of the eleventh annual New York Comedy Festival are currently on sale to Citi cardmembers through August 10 at 10:00 pm, then will be made available to the general public on Monday morning, August 11, at 10:00. This year’s lineup includes such big names as Bill Cosby, Bill Maher, Amy Schumer, and Marc Maron as well as such up-and-comers as Tig Notaro, Hannibal Buress, and Jessiemae Peluso. Dozens more events will be announced in the fall, but tickets for the below shows are going fast. Keep watching this space as more major shows are added.

Thursday, November 6
Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted, Town Hall, $34.50 - $54.50, 8:00

Friday, November 7
Hannibal Buress, Town Hall, $40.50 - $44.50, 7:00

Marc Maron, NYU Skirball Center, $35, 7:30

Amy Schumer: Professional, Carnegie Hall, $45-$85, 8:00

Saturday, November 8
An Evening with Bill Maher, Beacon Theatre, $50-$110, 7:00

Chris D’elia: Under No Influence, Town Hall, $34-50 - $57.50, 7:00

Jessiemae Peluso and Carly Aquilino, NYU Skirball Center, $25-$40, 7:00

Bill Cosby, Carnegie Hall, $45-$90, 8:00

Maria Bamford, Town Hall, $34.50 - $54.50, 9:45

Nick Offerman: Full Bush, Beacon Theatre, $47.50 - $57.50, 9:45


Park Ave. & 72nd St. to Foley Square
Saturday, August 2, 9, 16, free, 7:00 am – 1:00 pm

Now in its fifth year, Summer Streets takes place the next three Saturday mornings, as Park Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic from 72nd St. to Foley Square and the Brooklyn Bridge from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, encouraging people to walk, run, jog, blade, skate, and bike down the famous thoroughfare, getting exercise and enjoying the great outdoors without car exhaust, speeding taxis, and slow-moving buses. There are five rest stops along the route (Uptown at 52nd St., Midtown at 25th, Astor Pl. at Lafayette St., SoHo at Spring & Lafayette, and Foley Square at Duane & Centre), where people can stop for some food and drink, live performances, fitness classes, site-specific art installations, dog walks, bicycle and parkour workshops, ziplining, wall climbing, and other activities, all of which are free. Below are only some of the many highlights.

August 2, 9, 16
Cigna Recovery Zone classes: Bendable Body (7:00), Sunrise Salutations (7:30), Body Art (8:00), Balanced Body Yoga (8:30), Yoga Unplugged (9:00), Brazilian Burn n’ Firm Pilates (9:30), Pon De Flo (10:00), Ab Attack (10:30), Retro-Robics (11:00), Hard Knocks (11:30), Masala Bhangra (12 noon), Astor Place Rest Stop

“The Course of Emotions: A mini-golf experience by Risa Puno,” nine-hole miniature golf course in which each hole represents a different emotion, Uptown Rest Stop, 7:00 am – 1:00 pm

“Dive by Jana Winderen,” site-specific sound installation turning Park Ave. Tunnel into an underwater environment, line begins at Park Ave. & 32nd St., 7:00 am – 12:30 pm

August 2
Live music by the Poor Cousins (9:30), Yaz Band (10:00), Mecca Bodega (10:30), Robert Anderson Band (11:00), Uptown Rest Stop

Live performances by Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theatre (10:00), Salsa NY (11:00), Underground Horns (11:30), NY Laughs (12 noon), Feraba (12:30), Foley Square Rest Stop

“Matt Postal, Midtown Modern Tour,” two-hour MAS tour, Uptown Rest Stop, northwest corner of 52nd St. & Park Ave., 10:30

Food demos and talks by Veggiecation (10:30), Seeds in the Middle (10:50), Omowale Adewale (11:10), Jenne Claiborne the Nourishing Vegan (11:25), Creative Kitchen (11:45), Asphalt Green (12:07), Midtown Rest Stop

“Trumpet City: Park Avenue by Craig Shepard,” ninety-one trumpeters join musician Craig Shepard, lining up between 45th & 72nd Sts. on Park Ave., playing a one-hour piece that interacts with such natural sounds as traffic, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

August 9
Live performances by Salieu Suso and Malang Jobateh (9:00), Caty Grier: NYC Subway Girl (9:30), Leah Coloff (10:00), TAANY Santaizi Troupe (10:30), Charly and Margaux (11:00), Afrikumba (11:30), Karikatura (12 noon), Uptown Rest Stop

Live performances by Salsa NY (10:00), Harmony Program (10:30), Cherub Improv (11:00), Improv 4 Kids (12 noon), Foley Square Rest Stop

Abolitionist Walking Tour, African Burial Ground, National Park Service tour, Foley Square Rest Stop, southwest corner of Duane & Lafayette Sts., 10:00 (also August 16 at 10:00 and 12 noon)

“Peter Laskowich, New York City: A Gateway,” two-hour MAS tour, Foley Square Rest Stop, southwest corner of Duane & Lafayette Sts., 10:00

“Tilt Brass by Chris McIntyre,” interactive sound installation using infrared technology and live trombones, trumpets, and drums, Foley Square Rest Stop, 10:30 – 1:00

Food demos and talks by Sally Graves the Supermarket Fairy (10:30), Omowale Adewale (11:10), Seeds in the Middle (11:25), Taza Chocolate (11:45), Midtown Rest Stop

August 16
“My (Our) Way by Nick Tobler,” interactive musical event in which Tobler will hand out between fifty and a hundred music boxes for a mass performance of “My Way,” Astor Place Rest Stop, 8:00 and 10:30

Live performances by Seya (10:00), Exit 12 (10:30), Salsa NY (11:00), Darrah Carr (12 noon), Foley Square Rest Stop

Food demos and talks by Yoli Ouiya (10:12), Creative Kitchen (10:30), Omowale Adewale (10:50), Chris Santos of Morningstar Farms (11:10), Min Liao from Culinary (11:45), and Seeds in the Middle (12:07), Midtown Rest Stop

Live performances by Matt Pana (10:30), Yung-Li Dance Company (11:00), the Vocalists (11:30), Cupcake Ladies Productions comedy wrestling (12 noon), Uptown Rest Stop

“Judy Richeimer, Public Art in New York’s Civic Center,” two-hour MAS tour, Foley Square Rest Stop, southwest corner of Duane & Lafayette Sts., 11:00


David Hammons, “The Door (Admissions Office),” wood, acrylic sheet, and pigment construction, 1969 (California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Collection of Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum / © David Hammons)

David Hammons, “The Door (Admissions Office),” wood, acrylic sheet, and pigment construction, 1969 (California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Collection of Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum / © David Hammons)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, July 5, free, 5:00 - 11:00 ($10 discounted admission to “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”)

The Brooklyn Museum is throwing a summer party for its July free First Saturdays program, centered by a twenty-fifth-anniversary screening of Spike Lee’s Bed-Stuy classic, Do the Right Thing. In addition, there will be music from Matuto, Blitz the Ambassador, DJ Uhuru, and Nina Sky, a female comedy showcase hosted by Erica Watson, a talk and fashion show led by Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair author Michael July, a sidewalk chalk drawing project organized by the City Kids, a hula hoop demonstration with Hula Nation, an art workshop in which participants will learn figure drawing with a live model, and an interactive talk with “Brooklyn in 3000 Stills” creators Paul Trillo and Landon Van Soest. In addition, you can check out the current quartet of exhibitions, all of which deal with activism through art: “Ai Weiwei: According to What?,” “Swoon: Submerged Motherlands,” “Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Works, 1963–74,” and “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties.”

Moneta Sleet Jr., “Selma Marchers on road to Montgomery,” gelatin silver photograph, 1965 (courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

Moneta Sleet Jr., “Selma Marchers on road to Montgomery,” gelatin silver photograph, 1965 (courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

The powerful, wide-ranging “Witness,” which has just been extended through July 13 (the other three exhibits continue into August or September), is a traveling show being held in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. More than one hundred paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations are on view, divided into eight thematic categories: “Integrate Educate,” “American Nightmare,” “Presenting Evidence,” “Politicizing Pop,” “Black Is Beautiful,” “Sisterhood,” “Global Liberation,” and “Beloved Community.” In Bruce Davidson’s “USA. Montgomery, Alabama. 1961,” a black Freedom Rider sits by a window on a bus being escorted by the National Guard. David Hammons’s “The Door (Admissions Office)” is not exactly a welcoming sight. Norman Rockwell’s “New Kids in the Neighborhood (Negro in the Suburbs)” depicts three white children and two black children stopped on a sidewalk, curiously looking at each other. Melvin Edwards’s “Chaino” evokes slavery and lynchings. A trio of cartoonish KKK members drive into town in Philip Guston’s “City Limits.” There are also works by Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Jack Whitten, Faith Ringgold, Ben Shahn, Betye Saar, Gordon Parks, Jim Dine, Yoko Ono, Barkley Hendricks, Robert Indiana, Richard Avedon, and others that examine the civil rights movement from multiple angles, displaying America’s continuing shame.



Multiple locations
May 1-31, free - $35

As legend has it, during a card game in May 1914, vaudeville monologist and mimetic comedian Art Fisher rechristened Leonard, Arthur, Julius, and Milton Marx as Chicko (Chico), Harpo, Groucho, and Gummo, respectively. (Herbert was renamed Zeppo later.) So in May 2014, Marxfest will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of that propitious event with a series of special programs in all five boroughs, paying tribute to the New York City natives with film screenings, panel discussion, plays, parties, and a reading of an upcoming musical production of the brothers Marx’s Broadway musical debut, which was never filmed and has not been revived, until now. In addition to the below highlights, there are free film screenings every Thursday afternoon (A Night at the Opera, Monkey Business, Room Service, A Day at the Races), a Barx Brothers Dogwalk costume contest, walking tours, and more.

Thursday, May 1
The Party of the First Part, opening night party at location where Harpo spent many a night with the likes of Heywood Broun, Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, and George S. Kaufman, Algonquin Hotel Blue Bar, 59 West 44th St., free admission (cash bar), 6:00 - 10:00 pm

Friday, May 2
From Angels to Anarchists: The Evolution of the Marx Brothers, with Trav S.D. discussing Marx Brothers’ transition from the singing group the Four Nightingales to a comedy act and Sarah Moskowitz performing early routines, Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Ave., $7, 7:30

Sunday, May 4
An Evening with Groucho, starring Frank Ferrante, Williamson Theatre, College of Staten Island, $20-$25, 3:00

Wednesday, May 7
Marxes in Manhattan, with a theremin tribute by Rob Schwimmer, a re-creation of the Leroy Trio with Richard Pearson, Zachary Catron, and Kit Russoniello, a multimedia presentation on the Marx Brothers and their hometown by author and archivist Robert S. Bader, the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., $24, 8:00

Friday, May 9
The Music of the Marx Brothers, with Marissa Mulder, Rebekah Lowin, Bill Zeffiro, Tonna Miller, Gelber & Manning, and special surprise guests, hosted by Dandy Wellington, 54 Below, 254 West 54th St., $25-$35 (plus $25 food and drink minimum), 11:00

Saturday, May 10
Anarchy in Astoria: The Making of the Marx Brothers’ First Two Pictures, with the American Vaudeville Theatre’s Trav S.D. discussing the making of The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, Greater Astoria Historical Society, Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway, fourth floor, $10, 1:30

Saturday, May 17
“You Bet Your Ass,” quiz show with host Murray Hill and announcer Jonny Porkpie, with burlesque stars Anita Cookie, Lady Scoutington, and Trixie Little & the Evil Hate Monkey, the Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd St., $14.99 in advance, $19.99 at the door, 10:00

Sunday, May 18
An Elephant in Your Pajamas . . . at the Zoo, the Bronx Zoo, meet at the south gate at noon in your pajamas, zoo admission of $13-$17, 12 noon

Sunday, May 25
I’ll Say She Is, full-length reading of first Marx Brothers Broadway musical, followed by panel discussion, the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., $25, 5:00

Thursday, May 29
We’re All Mad Here: The Marx Brothers in Context, with Trav S.D. discussing the Marx Brothers’ vaudeville inspirations, Mid-Manhattan Library, 455 Fifth Ave., free, 6:30


English Gent Hamish McCann dazzles at LA SOIRÉE (photo by Carol Rosegg)

English Gent Hamish McCann dazzles at LA SOIRÉE (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Union Square Theatre
100 East 17th St.
Thursday - Monday through June 1, $37.95 - $127.95

If you don’t like La Soirée, well, then you just don’t know how to have fun. The raunchy, risqué mixture of burlesque, cabaret, vaudeville, circus, and Coney Island sideshow that has been touring the world for the last several years — an earlier iteration called Absinthe ran in the Spiegeltent at the South Street Seaport back in 2006 — is playing at the misty Union Square Theatre, where the audience is seated in the round, centered by a small circular platform where most of the often mind-blowing action takes place. Hosted by emcee Aidan O’Shea (among others, depending on which night you go), the two-hour evening features a core group of performers along with special guests. Singer-comic Amy G gets intimate with audience members and uses an unusual part of her body to play an instrument. Rhythmic gymnastics champion Lea Hinz contorts her arms and legs while suspended in the air in a hoop. The self-deprecating Marcus Monroe juggles a home-made combination of dangerous items. Jeans-wearing Joren “Bath Boy” Dawson splashes plenty of water while engaging in acrobatics in and around a claw-footed tub.

LA SOIRÉE is a raunchy romp at the Union Square Theatre (photo by Carol Rosegg)

LA SOIRÉE is a deliciously twisted raunchy romp at the Union Square Theatre (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Marawa the Amazing shimmies with a vast array of Hula hoops. Scrawny, wild-haired Ringling Bros. Clown College graduate Manchego offers a different take on the male striptease. The English Gents (the dapperly dressed — and undressed — Denis Lock and Hamish McCann) dazzle with breathtaking feats of skill and strength, balancing on each other’s bodies; the highlight of the night might just be McCann’s gravity-defying one-man “Singing in the Rain” pole dance. Burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz somehow gets inside a large balloon bubble. Other performers you might catch at La Soirée, which was first presented by Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein, and Mick Perrin in London in 2010, include Bret Pfister, Scotty Blue Bunny, Miss Ekaterina, Mooky Cornish, Le Gâteau Chocolat, Ursula Martinez, Cabaret Decadanse, Meow Meow, Jess Love, Miss Behave, and Mario, Queen of the Circus. There’s also free popcorn, a bar that remains open throughout the show, lots of audience participation, and surprises galore in this randy, very adult romp that isn’t afraid to go too low, or too high, to get a laugh, a smile, a gasp, or even a groan.


Rachel Feinstein will be spending Christmas Eve at the Gotham church of comedy with Myq Kaplan, Sam Morril, Chloe Hilliard, and Gregg Rogell

Rachel Feinstein will be spending Christmas Eve praying at the Gotham church of comedy with Myq Kaplan, Sam Morril, Chloe Hilliard, and Gregg Rogell

Gotham Comedy Club
208 West 23rd St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
Tuesday, December 24, $25 (two-drink minimum), 7:30 & 9:30

Every Christmas Eve, while most of America is sitting down to their holiday dinner, Jews gather in comedy clubs, laughing hysterically as Jewish comedians tell endless jokes about goyim. Well, maybe that’s not quite the gist of it, but only those in the know really know. On December 24, the Gotham Comedy Club will host its annual Yuletide celebration “A Very Jewish Christmas,” featuring Last Comic Standing finalist and anagram specialist Myq Kaplan (“Menorah? Harm one? Her moan? More? Nah.”) March Madness 2010 Comix champion Sam Morril (“I just complained to my mom on the phone for 40 minutes about how someone wasted my time”), former journalist Chloe Hilliard (“Christmas Eve you can find me at the Jewish show @ Gotham. Oh yeah! I’m probably getting paid in Chinese food.”), New York Giants fan Gregg Rogell (“Obamacare killed Brian”), and World’s Dumbest star Rachel Feinstein.