The Apiary


Advertise on the NYC BlogAds Network.


Syndicate this site (XML)

Site built and designed by

Logo designed by Tim Bierbaum

Video of the Day
Eleven Heads on 11/11 | Koren Ensemble
Fanatical About

Entries in brightest young things (1)



Reggie watts, Ruby Wendell, A.D. Miles and Morgan Murphy | Photo courtesy of Morgan MurphyBy: Aparna Nancherla

You may have already heard some of the buzz about the Bentzen Ball, the 4-day comedy festival named  after Ole Bentzen, who died in cardiac arrest while watching A Fish Called Wanda. The all-star comedy cavalcade was "curated" by Tig Notaro and presented by the Brightest Young Things, and also featured activities for comedians, including a White House tour and champagne and cupcake reception. Indeed, the inaugural festival promised to be atypical in myriad ways.

As soon as the Bentzen Ball comics arrived in D.C., they segued onstage and Segwayed through town, and, on the way, they conquered the hearts of many. But the audiences also conquered the comics' hearts. The whole weekend was such a mutual love fest of community and good times, it's hard to describe it in any other way than how the founder herself, Notaro, did: Comedy Camp. Also, a portion of ticket proceeds went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

I caught up with a handful of the comics to get some of their thoughts post-Ball:

TIG NOTARO Photo: Tig Notaro by Jeff Martin

1. What was one of your favorite memories of Bentzen Ball? I just loved always looking up and seeing the faces of all of my favorite people in the world everywhere I went. I love that comedians enjoy hanging out together at home AND in other cities. It's the best job. We're lucky. Oh, and I also loved watching Natasha Leggero dance like an old Russian man in a skirt for seven hours straight with eyes totally dead to the world. That was at an after party. I WISH I was describing her show.

2. What did you think of D.C.? The audiences were so into the shows. They were everything you dream of as a comedian. I actually never remember my dreams, so who knows what I'm talking about right now. But yeah, the audiences and the city were stellar. See you in a year? I can't wait.

3. Did you come up with any material during Bentzen Ball? "I don't know you. Give me back my purse." [Ed. Note: These were the proclamations a girl in the audience advised Tig to say if she ever got attacked on the street.]

4. Whom did you enjoy seeing perform? Sarah Silverman was destroying the city with her Godzilla-style attack on the finale show. It was pretty magical. She's pretty magical. I love magic. Jesus is magic.

5. If could you do it all again, would you do anything differently? I wouldn't do anything differently. I mean, I guess I always wished I had focused more on my calves at the gymnasium.

DAVE HILL Photo: Dave Hill | Matt Braunger | Todd Barry by Morgan Murphy1. Favorite memories? It’s hard to narrow it down to just one because it was such a delightful weekend full of good folks, good fun, uncomfortably long hugs, and also free burritos. I did get to meet Ian MacKaye from Fugazi after The Sound of Young America show, which was really nice since I am a big fan and have totally seen Fugazi more than any other band I’ve ever seen ever, something I mention to make myself seem cool. Ian was very smart, funny, and interesting, as one might expect.

2. What did you think of D.C.? I’ve spent a lot of time in DC, so I was pretty familiar with the city already. I dig it there. There are a lot of nice folks and great restaurants, especially Ethiopian restaurants, which are relatively scarce in NYC. I didn’t have any Ethiopian food on this trip, but it was nice to know that I totally could have if I wanted. I tend to avoid Ethiopian food when I have shows to perform as it often makes me explosive in ways that I would rather not be when I’m onstage. Also, I forgot to pack a spare pair of pants for this trip, so I really couldn’t take any chances.  In short, I think Mayor Marion Barry is doing a great job and the people of DC were wise to elect him.

As far as the audiences go, I thought they were great.  Everyone was really nice and at no point during the weekend did anyone pelt me in the head with anything, something I always have in the back of my mind as a thing that could easily happen at any point. Thank you for not pelting me, people of DC. It has been noted and will be reflected in the tip.

3. Did you come up with any material during Bentzen Ball? I feel like there might be something about how I forgot to pack a spare pair of pants andas a resultwas especially wary of the possibility of shitting my pants at some point during the weekend. When I have spare pants with me, I am much more inclined to just let loose if the mood strikes me as I know I am prepared for the situation.

4. Whom did you enjoy seeing perform? One of my favorite things about the festival was that it was full of comedians that I am both a friend and fan of, so I saw tons of folks I really enjoyed. And don’t even get me started on the wild backstage antics! I can’t tell you how many times I whipped out my privates for comedic effect or to mess with someone’s food or drink when they were onstage.

As far as who I enjoyed seeing perform, I hate to mention any one person because I will totally forget a million people I meant to mention and then I will hate myself forever, but I will take my chances and list some names anyway and say I enjoyed seeing Steve Agee, Todd Barry, Mary Lynn Rajskub, David Huntsberger, Eli Sairs, Tig Notaro, and everyone from The Sarah Silverman Program show on Sunday night at the 9:30 Club.

5. If could you do it all again, would you do anything differently? If I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed better hydrated and maybe told a few more dick jokes. Also, I would have demanded that the DJs at the after parties didn’t turn the music up so loud. Why do they have to turn it up so loud? I don’t understand the volume = fun equation that seems to be out there with the kids today. So yeah, I would have gone over and said something to the DJ. In fact, I would like to use this interview to tell everyone everywhere to just turn it down, whatever it is. It’s driving me crazy. Seriously, I’m tired of it—turn it down.

RORY SCOVEL Photo: Rory Scovel | Seaton Smith by Dakota Fine1. Favorite memories? Just loved getting to hang out and joke around with comics that I love watching perform. It's an amazing experience. It's also very inspirational for going on stage as a more confident performer. Laughing with other comics makes me perform more confidently and the Bentzen Ball gave me that.

2. Thoughts on D.C.? I used to live in DC so I love coming back and performing here.  I think its fun to see friends and family and hang out.  I have always found the audiences to be a lot of fun.  I don't really have stuff that I consider smart but I have stuff that is weird and the audiences seem to go with me when I go into it. 

3. Did you come up with any material during Bentzen Ball? I didn't come up with anything. I think my brain stopped working most of the weekend.

4. Whom did you enjoy seeing perform?
I always love watching Reggie Watts, Todd Barry, Kyle Kinane, Tig Notaro, Hampton Yount, and Ben Kronberg. So many people. I loved every set that I saw. I'm missing some names here cause my brain still doesn't work yet.

5. If could you do it all again... I would request to perform "in the round" [Ed. note: He is referring to a special panoramic theater with audience on all sides of you] every single show of my life. I wouldn't change anything else though. The experience was awesome.

KYLE KINANE Kyle Kinane by Morgan Murphy1. Favorite memories? Seeing the White House. Having lived in Los Angeles for the past six years, it's nice to experience some American history that isn't "and this is where Mork & Mindy was filmed." We caught up to our group late in the tour and the secret service tour guide nonchalantly let us walk through a roped off room to greet them. I hope he didn't get in trouble.

2. Thoughts on D.C.? The shows were all great. The audiences were smart and allowed for the comics to ease into their style, which sometimes isn't the case with other crowds. A lot of times you have to jump in right away and prove yourself, but the DC crowds definitely seemed to be up for whatever the performer was going to offer which made for really organic good times.

3. Did you come up with any material during Bentzen Ball? One of the many awesome activities for the comedians was held in the Presidential Suite at the hotel we stayed in, which I was thinking must be a hard sell. You can't really tell people "and this is where the President stays whenever he's in DC." The Marriott was an excellent hotel with deceptively named accomodations. That and how I often confuse the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum with a Hard Rock Cafe. The rocket ships are cool and all, but where's the room with David Lee Roth's pants?

4. Whom did you enjoy seeing perform? A lot of friends were there that I only get to see in mutual travels like Rory Scovel and Alex Koll. Also, to see Andy Wood being able to relax at a festival for once is great. Normally I only see him during the Bridgetown Comedy Festival he helps produce, so to see him kick back for once was good.

5. If could you do it all again, would you do anything differently? Personally, I'd make a better effort to get on the Segway tour next time. I heard several people crashed, and that sounds funny to me.

MORGAN MURPHYLaura Silverman, Jen Kirkman and Morgan Murphy | Photo: Morgan Murphy

1. Favorite memories? Figuring out who got shitfaced Saturday night, by counting everyone who didn't show up for the White House tour Sunday morning.

2. Thoughts on D.C.? The city's history is amazing. I like when the monuments are unavoidable, because you don't have to go to too much effort to see old things that make you feel smart and cultured. There's something outwardly very serious about it. Everyone on the train heading down there was using a Blackberry. Probably because their jobs are important—too important to care about the new iPhone app where you can blend your friends' faces with animal faces, and make animal-people. I think Ben Bernanke would like it if he gave it a chance.

The audiences were fantastic. I'm always excited to get out of LA and NY, just because it seems like cities that aren't inundated with comedy are so much more enthused about it when it comes around. One show in particular at the Studio Theatre stood out as my favorite show in a long, long time. The crowd was in it for the long haul, and loved everything. You'd think they were all young folks by the sound of the response, but you looked out at them and there were people of all ages. Old people, middle aged couples...I think I even saw a black person.

3. Did you come up with any material during Bentzen Ball? I have to try to figure out how to tell the story of how I gave Steve Agee a hand job in the bathroom of Ben's Chili Bowl...but somehow make it anonymous. It's a funny story, but I just don't want people to know it's about Steve Agee, so I'm going to make up a name. I'll probably change his name in the bit to something generic, like Timothy Geitner. Or I'll change the word "hand job" to "high five," and keep the name "Steve Agee."

4. Whom did you enjoy seeing perform? I enjoyed watching myself perform when I was practicing in my hotel room. But when I left the hotel I liked everyone I saw. That's hard to say at a comedy festival. But it's true. Todd Barry was awesome at the Lincoln Theater in front of what seemed like a thousand people (but it may have been six or seven). Kyle Kinane made me LOL so hard that I accidentally wrote LOL just now with no irony whatsoever. Chelsea Peretti did something funny with a recording device that you should ask her about if you see her walking around. A.D. Miles was the best White House tour guide a gal could ask for, and his "crotch shot" photo gallery from the capitol building should qualify for a grant or something. (It's linked on his Facebook page.)

5. If could you do it all again, would you do anything differently? If not, would you do anything twice given the opportunity? I would definitely have given Steve Agee a handjob twice, if he hadn't started crying after the first one. As for what I'd do differently, I think it's not up to me to make changes. I may not have let some guy interview me while I was drunk, but it was my birthday and I needed to do something regrettable so that a year from now I can say that I've grown up. For first fest, the whole thing was shockingly professional, and well organized. I bet things will be tweaked, but I'd count the whole thing as a huge success. Any bumps in the road were obvious but benign. I think some comics were worried about certain shows being too long (10 or so people), but the crowds didn't seem to think they were and that's what matters. Then again, maybe someone lost a million dollars sponsoring it. I don't know. I shared a hotel room, so I did my part. If the biggest issue in a night is that a bunch of comics can't figure out where to get drink tickets, I'd say that's a pretty good sign.

Brightest Young Things and Andy Wood can't be thanked enough, and sooo much of the credit goes to Tig for bringing together a group of comics who complemented each other so well. No assholes in the whole bunch. I liked the folks I already knew, and I liked the folks I met. Montreal, Aspen, Edinburgh, etc...there's an underlying agenda at those festivals apart from just hanging out with comics, doing shows, and having fun. Hopefully this new crop of festivals...Vancouver, Portland’s Bridgetown Fest, Eugeme Mirman's festival, and the Bentzen Ball, are a sign of things to come. Or maybe the world will blow up tomorrow. I don't know.

SETH HERZOG Photo: Seth Herzog by Rachel Eisley

1. Favorite memories? Definitely doing the Segway tour of the Mall. I wasn't going to go, but after the original White House tour was canceled, I had no choice. Now I can't imagine having not gone. Just seeing Jimmy Dore and Steph Escajeda wipe out was worth it alone. Not to mention the looks from everyone who thought we were a gang from the future. Also taking a #2 in a restricted bathroom in the White House is a memory I will hold dear for life. I now truly understand how it feels to sit in the seat of power.

2. Thoughts on D.C.? It's a very pretty city. Lots of nice old townhouses, even boarded up ones, have plenty of charm. We were there during Howard University Homecoming. It was nice to see Dwayne Wayne and Whitley again. Over all, I thought the audiences were very smart—you didn't have to spell out everything for them. Half the time, you would do the set up and they'd already be laughing cause they were three steps ahead...or maybe it was because I was wearing a spandex Wonder Woman outfit...

3. Did you come up with any material during Bentzen Ball? I came up with stuff for the shows specifically about D.C. For example, how the white supremacist who shot up the Holocaust Museum— while lying on the museum floor bleeding—had no choice but to check out the exhibit. I did come up with a bit about our Segway tour we did around the Capitol but I haven't figured out a way to ease into the topic...

4. Whom did you enjoy seeing perform? There were a few of comedians I'd never seen before that I really enjoyed watching like Jimmy Dore, Kyle Kinane, and Rory Scovel. Natasha Leggero is always fun. And watching Kyle Dunnigan deal with 50 teenage Brits walking across the stage while he was performing was a treat.

5. If could you do it all again, would you do anything differently? Well, the tours were great, but I would have liked to have had even more exclusive tours than we had. I wanted to nap in Malia's bed. I feel short changed. If I had to do it twice, I would have snuck into the Spy Museum through the roof and spent more time at the Howard University Homecoming party.

--Aparna Nancherla is a Washington D.C.-based comedian whose credits include NBC Stand Up for Diversity finalist and Last Comic Standing. More importantly, she is on Twitter and her stand up and improv performance schedule stays current here.