On an innocent Thursday night, in the back of an unsuspecting vegan restaurant on St. Mark's Place on the Lower East Side, a show of truly innovative standards took place. Wedged between two shows that same evening, Comedy Ugly (a stand up comedy strip tease show) created a perfect blend of comedy, nudity, and pleasant intimacy (yes, it does exist).
Hosted by Alysia Hush and Marisa Riley, Comedy Ugly features both well-and-lesser known comedians from the New York City circuit. Typically hosted at Stand Up NY, this month's location maintained the same vibe: real cozy. Without any expectations or pre-conceived notions of what the night would entail, I attended the most recent iteration of Comedy Ugly all by my lonesome. The show revealed itself to have a simple yet one-of-a-kind premise wherein the featured comedians performed their regular acts and, at any given time, were interrupted by sultry jams from the 80s and 90s and were required to take an article of clothing off. Very quickly, comedians found themselves next-to-nude-on stage, and telling jokes.
Inherent in its nature, the show created a gradual build up of comfortability among the crowd. The first act, while acknowledging the potential for awkwardness, rang in throwing caution to the wind and set the tone for the following comedians to really take the stripping aspect of the show to new heights. Once on stage, each comedian reeled in the audience with their comedy, and kept them on their toes as they undulated to the sexy sounds of Ginuwine’s Pony and tossed their clothing into the air. By the end of the show, the audience had seen and heard it all: glitter ass-less man thongs, bountiful breasts, relatable jokes, insights into comedians’ personal lives and slight commiseration of New York City woes which distinguished Comedy Ugly as a memorable night that left the crowd yearning for more.
Comedy Ugly deserves even more attention not only for its unique premise, but also for the way it unites comedians and audience members. On a more visceral level, the show taps into the cultural shame of nudity, despite it being the universal quality that humans share, and presents this discourse in one of the most lighthearted ways. By blending comedy and nudity, the show reminds us all to worry less, live more, and never stop laughing.
Follow Comedy Ugly on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or Eventbrite to find out when you can attend the next show!