Last week the Brooklyn Comedy Festival filled Greenpoint and Williamsburg’s bars and music venues with top names in both local and big-time comedy. It was the festival’s third year to take over our hilarious borough, and we caught up with one of the founders, Chris Nester, to see how things went and what goes into making the fest a success.
Greenpointers: So, the festival is over! How’d it go?
Chris Nester: Oh my god it’s over? Really?! How did it go? JUST KIDDING…We’re really happy with how this year’s festival went. We were trying to pull off a lot, and I think we did it without letting anyone know how tired we were.
GP: I don’t know about that. You look pretty awful.
CN: They sent a comic to do the interview. Perfect.
GP: (Sorry). What made you decide to start the Brooklyn Comedy Festival in the first place?
CN: Julian [Kiani] and I were performing and going to shows in Brooklyn every night. We saw that something special was happening in NYC comedy, and that it was happening in Brooklyn. One night after a show, we had a candid conversation that basically went, “Is there a Brooklyn comedy festival?” “No, I don’t think there is…” “That’s crazy. We should start that.” Then we pitched it to Ashleigh [Walker], our producer, and less than a year later we had the first Brooklyn Comedy Festival.
GP: How long have you been in Brooklyn?
CN: I’ve lived in Brooklyn for six years. Moved here Sept. 10, 2010.
GP: Have you seen a change in the Brooklyn comedy scene since you moved here?
CN: Mostly, I’ve just seen it grow – not only in the amount of performers getting up every night in BK, but also in the number of shows happening and the number of people coming to watch those shows. In many ways, the festival has grown with the scene and the borough, and I think that has helped us a lot.
GP: Your team works out of the Pencil Factory in Greenpoint. What made you choose that space as a home base?
CN: Free coffee.
GP: Sounds about right. What’s your favorite place to watch comedy in Greenpoint?
CN: I am a huge fan of the show Broken Comedy that happens at Bar Matchless every Monday night. They’ve tapped into something there – there’s always a good crowd and a full room, and the line-ups are always killer. It’s FREE. It’s become a great Monday night spot for comics to hit before they run off to Whiplash or wherever, and also for comics to hang if they’re done for the night.
GP: What’s Whiplash?
CN: It’s a great showcase at UCB’s mainstage every Monday night. Also free.
GP: Back to the festival: What venues were added this year that weren’t a part last year?
CN: We had a few this year… Bell House, Threes Brewing, Dizzy’s Backroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg… As the scene continues evolving, with certain weekly [and] monthly shows ending and new shows always popping up, I think we’ll have new venues every year. A lot of our new venues are for shows that already exist and we attach to the festival.
GP: Did you notice a difference in the turnout this year?
CN: Every year we add more shows and bigger venues…it’s amazing that every year people continue to pack out almost every single show. It blows my mind, every single year.
GP: There were some big names on the roster like Reggie Watts and Vanessa Bayer, to name a couple. How do you get the larger acts on the lineup?
CN: I’ll just say that we have a lot of friends doing amazing things in comedy, and sometimes the stars align and we get to work together.
GP: Can we be friends?
CN: I sent you a friend request like five min before this interview even started, soooooo ball’s in your court.
GP: Score. What would you say is the biggest factor in the success of the festival?
CN: One huge factor in our festival’s success is the growth of its namesake borough. There are so many more people in Brooklyn now, and that mixed with the comedy boom we’re currently living in… I think people wanted this type of festival and they’re responding to it. We also work our asses off year-in and year-out to put on a good festival.
GP: Reggie is magic. So, what are your plans for the future of the festival?
CN: 1.) To make sure Trump doesn’t get elected….not sure how but we’re really working hard on that.
2.) That’s a tough question, and we try to make changes every year based on what we’ve seen and learned from the year before so we’re kind of just starting to look at next year. Our main goal has always been to lift up our scene, its fans and performers however we can, so we’re going to try and continue to do that as best we can.
Check out the Brooklyn Comedy Festival on places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for highlights from this year and info on the next!
Greenpoint (and pretty much all of NYC) will be experiencing record breaking temps of almost 70 degrees over the next two days. It’s March, people. Are you ready to strip off those coats? Here are some of our favorite outdoor spots in Greenpoint where you can soak up some of that good ol’ Vitamin E.
Lobster Joint – 1073 Manhattan Ave. Open from noon every day, they’ve got a lovely New Englandy open air beer garden in the back of their seafood restaurant. Grub on a lobster roll and chill out with a beer.
When he’s not working from his studio in Greenpoint, teaching at the School of Visual Arts, or filling in as art director for the New York Times Op-Ed page, Josh Cochran holds his annual Get Nude. Get Drawn exhibitions with fellow artist and friend Mike Perry. This year will be their fifth. The project consists of getting together some of Brooklyn’s most talented illustrators and dedicated day sessions of drawing nude models in their respective styles. The exhibition will show drawings made by the two originators themselves, along with artists Chrissy Angliker, Jon Burgerman, Mario Hugo, Julia Rothman, Edward Ubiera, and Joo Hee Yoon. Anticipating tonight’s show I asked Josh to share a few words about the playful collaboration and what it’s like to delve into the world of nude art.
Thursday, January 28th
90 Orchard St
7 – 11 pm
GP: Can you introduce yourself? I’m an illustrator for magazines, newspapers and advertising. Sometimes I make murals as well.
GP: I hear you have a studio here at the Pencil Factory. What is your history with the space and what is a typical day in the studio like for you? I’ve been here off and on for about seven years. It’s this big building with a bunch of other creative people working in various studios. Sort of feels like school, in a good way! Sometimes if I’m working on a project, it’s really nice to lean over and get an opinion of one of my studio mates. I come in around 10am and leave around dinnertime. I try to get my commissioned work out of the way so I have some time to work on personal projects. I try to work during daylight hours but of course if I have a deadline, this gets shifted around a little.
GP: How did the idea for this exhibition come along? How did you and Mike meet? Mike and I met at the ADC Young Guns awards party. We were both getting an award, and just started talking. The idea for the project came about when we were both talking about how we wished we could draw nudes again but maybe approach it from a different perspective. In art school, drawing the nude was really academic and I wanted to find a fresh, spontaneous way to work. Drawing from normal, non-professional people really changes how you approach drawing. There is a certain amount of awkwardness and honesty that I hope to capture.
GP: Have you worked with any of tonight’s artists before? I’ve worked with a couple of them before. Edward Ubiera and I did a mural project together last summer. Also I’ve done a few projects with Julia Rothman. This Brooklyn art world is pretty small actually.
GP: What other kinds of shows do you plan on putting
together in the future? No immediate plans just yet. Though this is the 5th year of doing nudes and definitely planning on keeping this project going until we’re both very old. It’s been really interesting seeing how the project and work has evolved through the years.
GP: With these drawing sessions, what is the procedure like in order to get people the most comfortable? We try to keep it as professional as possible. There is a changing area and we usually set up a bunch of props and lights that the models can interact with. Usually we try to chat a little bit with each model to see what kind of poses they want to do or what will make them feel more comfortable. I think one person this year drank half a can of beer, which seemed like it helped!
GP: What are you looking forward to the most with this exhibition? I’m really looking forward to meeting some of the models. It’s been fascinating hearing the stories from people that have modeled for us. We’ve gotten people who’ve wanted to pose in order to get over a phobia of being naked in public, women who are about to have a baby, my studio mate who wants to embarrass me, etc. It’s always been sort of a crazy experience.
In the fast-paced shell game of who is making money off of Greenpoint’s real estate scene, carpenters are getting no love these days. The Brooklyn Woodworkers Co-op–a Greenpoint carpenter collective– who has been sawing, slicing and molding wood for the last 30 years inside the Pencil Factory is now on the chopping block after being presented with, you guessed it, an insane rent increase.
Philippe Prelati, owner of Atelier Prelati who makes custom doors and member of the Brooklyn Woodworker’s Co-op, says the landlord is jacking up the rent from $20,000 to $55,000 a month—practically 3x’s what they are paying these days.
More than 200 of the neighborhood’s foremost capitalists, investors, workers, and a smattering of politicians attended the event, which honored Kickstarter as the Community Anchor of the year, and which featured a terrific speech by the supremely well-named Brooklyn Industries co-founder, Lexy Funk. Continue reading →
Late in his life, Henri Matisse would turn to creating cutouts, which eventually covered the walls of his lofty studios from floor to ceiling inside the Hotel Excelsior Regina Palace at Cimiez in France. Matisse would direct his numerous assistants and his Russian mistress, Lydia Delektorskaya, with a 12-foot long bamboo cane from his bed, and they would all rush to adjust his colored paper compositions. Echoing Matisse in his own way, and paying homage to the beauty of industrial America, multimedia artist Michael Hambouz has created a series of 18 large-scale, cut-paper collage works called Factory Made using paper stock from the mill located in his hometown of Niles, Michigan. We met in front of The Richardson, and walked to his studio a few doors down, where his cat, Pickles, was waiting. Continue reading →
If you aren’t familiar with Greenpoint band Monuments, now is a perfect time to get to know them. They have a new album out called Brigadune, they play tonight at Cameo Gallery, and they did an interview with us. Check it out. Continue reading →
Vinyl is alive and well. Besides a smorgasbord of little and medium-sized record stores throughout north Brooklyn, today marks the opening of Rough Trade, a 10,000 square foot monster of a music store with all the bells & whistles. (NY Times)
Speaking of big buildings, the Pencil factory building next door to where Kickstarter has opened for business on Greenpoint Avenue is for sale. “The three-story structure includes 17,485 square feet of space and is zoned for hotel, retail or office use” As long as it doesn’t become a Duane Reade I’m good. (DNA Info)
The push to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan continues locally with the help of the owners of Dalaga who are asking for much needed supplies, including: energy bars, tents clean blankets, towels, batteries, soap and medications. They will also be donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the store’s own line of jewelry, greeting cards and tote bags to the cause. Awesome. (Greenpoint Gazette)
For all of you gentlemen and gentlewomen, there’s a hot-to-trot new face in Greenpoint and it’s called Owen & Fred. The clean-cut, utilitarian men’s brand stocks minimal but cheeky shaving kits, understated but classic duffel bags, and a no fuss carry-on. Not to mention, Owen & Fred also sells cheeky wares (coffee mugs, stationary, toiletries) with subtle 1960s influences while maintaining a contemporary attitude.
With many Brooklyn made products, Owen & Fred launched a Kickstarter campaign to solidify their products and commitment with customers. The brand recently relocated to the Pencil Factory and I sat down with the founder, Michael Arnot, to talk about the brand, being a Greenpoint start up, and more.
When I met with Brooklyn Crafting Queen Brett Bara in her newly occupied sub-level HQ in Greenpoint Ave’s Pencil Factory studios, the space was empty and Brett was diligently working on her laptop, planning away, at a folding table near the space’s generous wall of windows. Despite its lack of stuff, the large venue was filled with Brett’s enthusiastic energy in anticipation of her soon to debut Brooklyn Craft Company. Continue reading →