Archive for the tag 'comedy'

On the eve of the release of his new memoir, Sheepshead Bay native Andrew Dice Clay sat down with the Village Voice and recounted how he got his start in comedy.

The foul-mouthed comedian never intended to be a funnyman; he was a theater geek aiming to be an actor. But to warm up to the stage, he decided to tackle what he called “the toughest club in the country” – Sheepshead Bay’s Pips Comedy Club, formerly on Emmons Avenue.

Here’s what he said about the 1978 experience, and how it led Andrew Silverstein to become the Diceman:

That night would change my life. September 13, 1978. When I went on for the first time at Pips, that became my home until I came out to L.A. But I was very prepared to go on at Pips because I came up as a musician, as a drummer, and singer and entertainer. I was more into theater, so when I was thinking about getting on a comedy stage, it was more about having an act already. I didn’t want to “go up there and see what happens,” and I prepared a certain kind of act. I would come onstage as Jerry Lewis’s character from The Nutty Professor and take my magic formula, and turn into the John Travolta character from Grease.

At the time, Travolta was just the biggest star in the world. I mean, he was coming off the heels of [Saturday Night] Fever. We’d resembled each other since he was in Welcome Back, Kotter. We really looked similar; I could do a dead-on Travolta. But when I saw Grease at the Brighton theater in Brighton Beach and I saw him sing and dance, I said, “I have the act. I know what I can do.”

To perfect the act, Dice rehearsed at Kings Highway’s Fly Studios, then watched Grease and Fever over and over again, jotting down notes on the dance cues. He continues:

And that night when I went on at Pips, I came onstage as Jerry Lewis. My whole family was there: my parents, my sister, my grandmother, my friend Johnny. It was amateur night, and when I went on as the Nutty Professor, they’re booing me because I’m this nerd: “Get the fuck off the stage!”

But the club owner knew when to shut the light when I was doing my transition, took my magic formula. When I turned around as Travolta, they went ballistic, like it was Travolta. They were throwing tables over. You talk about a 90-seat club, with the air conditioning right in the ceiling: the toughest club in the country to play. When that would click on it was like a tractor going on. And I got hired to headline that weekend. The owners come over and they go, “Who’s your manager?” I look over at my father and go, “He is.” And that was it. I never came offstage for 10 years, until I made it.

Apparently, the comedian, who will also play a ’70s radio-station magnate in an upcoming Martin Scorsese series for HBO, feels Brooklyn is even worse than the bad, old days of the 1970s.

Brooklyn was a different world back then, and today it’s even worse. ‘Cause today it’s more bullies. That’s all you read about. And I always hated bullies. I wasn’t a bully in any way. I was tough, I could fight, but I wasn’t with the 15 guys coming over to one guy to terrorize him and kick him in the face. I hate that attitude.

Anyone remember Dice from the old ‘hood? Tell us about his performances at Pips!

Source: FreeVerse Photography/Flickr

Improv Everywhere, the group behind the no pants subway ride and Frozen Grand Central gags, returned to Coney Island for the 5th Annual Black Tie Beach event on Saturday.

Source: FreeVerse Photography/Flickr

Hundreds of the group’s acolytes gathered on the shoreline in their best formal wear – gowns, tuxedos, top hats, monocles – before plunging into the water fully clothed.

Source: FreeVerse Photography/Flickr

Meanwhile, those not in on the gag, which would be just about anyone else hanging around Coney Island or Brighton Beach, let loose a series of guffaws as they tried to figure out what was going on.

Source: FreeVerse Photography/Flickr

The group’s website has several photo collections from the event posted already, and they’re working on a video. In the meantime, here’s last year‘s video:

Did you catch the black tie crew? What was your reaction?

All of the photos for this post were taken by Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography, who generously posted them with a Creative Commons license on Flickr. Check out his photostream for more.

The tragic death of a screenwriting mentor is driving a Sheepshead Bay High School teacher to do everything he can to finish a stalled movie project that he has poured his soul into. The New York Daily News is reporting that Keith Black, a math teacher, has started a crowd-funding initiative to realize his dream and honor his deceased friend.

Black’s fallen friend, Mark Troy, was a Hollywood screenwriter who died at the age of 51 from meningitis. According to Black, Troy believed in his work and co-wrote his script. The Daily News described their relationship and the sacrifices Black made to make the project:

“He was more than someone just writing the script,” Black said of Troy, with whom he worked primarily over the telephone to finish the screenplay over a period of two years. “He would do anything to make me succeed. He believed in Keith Black 100%.”

The finished product so impressed the accomplished cast members, Black said, that they agreed to work for next to nothing.

Black — who sold off his prized comic book collection and dipped into his retirement savings to pour $70,000 into the movie — grudgingly abandoned the project about a year ago with little more than a quarter of the movie in the can.

But then, this past May, Troy suddenly died of meningitis at age 51.

“Him passing reawakened my dream and his dream to get this movie on the big screen,” said Black. “I got the momentum back. I gotta do it for me. I gotta do it for Mark.”

As evidenced in the trailer above, the cast includes some famous actors including Mickey Rooney, Renee Taylor and Dick Cavett. While 25 percent of the movie had been shot before production got shut down, Black plans to scrap that footage and start over because several of the actors have died and because Black has trimmed down his physique considerably.

According to Black’s crowdfunding page, he is looking to raise an ambitious $700,000 to finish the project. If you would like to contribute to Black’s project and donate to his cause, you can do so by clicking here.

Best of luck Keith.

Adam Richman (Source: smulligannn via flickr).

Adam Richman (Source: smulligannn via flickr).

Adam Richman, the star of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food and the Fandemonium, paid homage to his Sheepshead Bay roots in a recent New York Post report.

The 39-year-old Richman, who graduated Midwood High School, has been in the Hollywood limelight since 2004 when he made his acting debut in Joan of Arcadia. Besides acting, Richman’s interests fell with the world of cuisine, leading him to keep a journal of every restaurant visited dating back to 1995. On Man v. Food, Richman would enthusiastically engage in insane eating contests where he would tackle giant burritos and cram five fat-sandwiches from the famed “grease trucks” at Rutgers into his face in 45 minutes. (As a Rutgers grad, I cringed watching this video, knowing just how disgusting his attempted feat was.)

In the Post report, Richman remembered fondly the places in Sheepshead Bay that he loved to visit and commented on the evolving food scene in Brooklyn.

“I love the amazing new food scene and the cultural aspect, but often, the native Brooklynite in me yearns for the way things used to be,” Richman told the Post. “I guess I’m just protective of my home — like everyone is.”

Richman gave shout-outs to the now closed Pips Comedy Club (2005 Emmons Avenue) sharing a story of how he landed there with his prom date.

“I used to go to Pips to see comedians who were up-and-coming at the time — like David Brenner and Wil Shriner. That was where I asked my prom date to go with me to the prom. And yes, she said ‘yes,’” Richman said.

He also commented on his love for the roast beef sandwiches at Brennan and Carr (3432 Nostrand Avenue), appreciating their old-school approach to root beer.

“I’ve been going here since I was young. It’s also a place I visited for one episode of ‘Man v. Food.’ I was there with [borough president] Marty Markowitz, who also loves it. They’re known for their dipped roast beef sandwich. They still serve root beer in frosted mugs, and the waiters still wear jackets and ties. It was like that when my grandpa ate there,” Richman told the Post.

Richman also gave love to the closed Adelman’s Deli and his time as a youth at the Kings Bay Y:

Adelman’s Deli, formerly at 1906 Kings Hwy., at East 19th Street
“This is one of those delis that they just don’t make anymore. I remember when I came out of Yale, I decided to drive across country by myself for pilot season in LA, to take my shot at TV fame. Before I left Brooklyn, I made a point of going to Adelman’s to get my favorite sandwich — pastrami and corned beef on rye with Russian and coleslaw on it, along with fries and a Dr. Brown’s Cel-Rey soda. I knew I was about to go to the land of the thin and the high-cheek-boned, so I wanted one final taste of New York before I crossed the Rockies!”

Kings Bay Y, 3495 Nostrand Ave., at Avenue V
“They had after-school and summer programs that I used to go to when I was a kid. You could shoot basketball, and that’s where I learned to swim, too. They also had dances there where you could learn to talk to girls . . . or not to talk to girls, as the case often was.”

I like Richman. Whenever his show came on TV, my girlfriend would cringe at all the food he was trying to inhale and make me change the channel but I always got the impression that Richman was a down-to-earth and funny guy. And, with his love of Sheepshead, obviously he’s got good taste.

Pips Comedy Club

Ray Garvey, a true Brooklyn renaissance man, will be inducted into the Brooklyn Softball Hall of Fame this Sunday in Kelly Park (East 15th Street and Avenue S) and be remembered for his larger than life personality. The New York Daily News is reporting that while Garvey died of cancer three years ago, he has not been forgotten.

The Daily News described how Garvey, a fine local athlete, rose from humble roots to become one of the more visible and beloved Brooklyn residents:

Ray Garvey started out as a Daily News paper handler in the early 1970s and then became a city sanitation worker and later a cop at the 71st Precinct, where he served under a commanding officer named Ray Kelly. He survived the Crown Heights riots, worked in the NYPD Harbor Unit and then ran the Police Athletic League in Brooklyn for a few years, where he coached kids like Stephon Marbury in the Coney Island Houses.

Garvey’s brushes with fame began when he got the nerve to start performing comedy at the legendary Pips Comedy Club (formerly of 2005 Emmons Avenue), an establishment he would later come to own with his brother John:

While still a cop, he moonlighted as the doorman at the storied Pips Comedy Club on Emmons Ave., where Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Seinfeld, Colin Quinn, Robert Klein and Andrew Dice Clay learned their trade.

Garvey once told me that if he could climb into a ring in a pair of baggy shorts in front of 20,000 people to get punched in the face, he could mount a comedy stage.

So he started doing short comedy routines, emceeing and soon developed his own act delivered with a Brooklyn accent thick enough to fill potholes. His brother John (Murph) Garvey later bought Pips and Ray managed it.

“I was the first guy to cast Ray in a movie,” Woody Allen told me. “He was a great guy and a natural mug actor. A Brooklyn street guy that played great on the screen. When I met him he looked to me like an over-the-hill John L. Sullivan and I used him a number of times and he always came through for me.”

His work with Woody Allen led to dozens of other roles in other big projects including, Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Law and Order and The Sopranos. The Daily News described the honor Garvey will be receiving Sunday as well as a description from fellow local athletic street legend Billy Pucci:

On Sunday, the guys in Kelly Park will enter Ray Garvey into the Brooklyn Softball Hall of Fame, presenting John Garvey with a certificate and a T-shirt.

“I can’t tell you how deeply it touches me,” says John Garvey.

Billy Pucci said it best.

“Ray was six years younger than me. He looked up to me. But I looked up to him too. He was pure Brooklyn — tough, talented, street smart, loyal, hardworking, stand-up, and all heart. Ray Garvey was Brooklyn. I miss him every single day.”

Photo courtesy of Allan Shweky

Photo courtesy of Allan Shweky

Those wacky kids at Improv Everywhere returned to the beaches of Coney Island and Brighton Beach, decked out in their best formal wear. Sheepshead Bites reader Allan Shweky, who also runs Friends of Ocean Parkway, captured some photos of the comedy group as they invaded the beach and boardwalk.

This isn’t the first time that Improv Everywhere visited the beaches of Southern Brooklyn. We last covered their madcap antics way back in 2010 as they hit the sands, applied sunscreen and splashed around the ocean in ridiculously out-of-place formal outfits. This was the fourth annual Black Tie Beach event launched by the group and it looks like everybody involved had a good, silly time.

Anyone else catch these merry pranksters this past Sunday?

Photo courtesy of Allan Shweky

Photo courtesy of Allan Shweky

Photo courtesy of Allan Shweky

Photo courtesy of Allan Shweky

Mickey Rose (far left) at his wedding to his wife Judith. Woody Allen and actress Louise Lasser pictured on the right. Source:

Mickey Rose and Woody Allen met in an art class at Midwood High School more than 60 years ago, starting a lifelong friendship and collaboration that included some of Woody’s most hilarious films. Rose died over the weekend at the age of 77 from colon cancer, according to a report by The New York Times.

Rose, along with Allen, was one of America’s preeminent comedy writers. For years he wrote jokes for Johnny Carson during his Tonight Show run. Michael Barrie, who worked on Carson’s venerable talk show, which ran for 30 years from 1962 to 1992, said that Rose was “a comedy writer’s comedy writer.”

With Allen, Rose helped write “What’s Up Tiger Lily?” (1966), “Take the Money and Run” (1969) and “Bananas” (1971); all early classics from the era when Allen wasn’t yet known for more cerebral films.

“Mickey was one of the funniest humans I know, a true original and a total eccentric and a wonderful first baseman,” said Allen this week, in a statement released by his biographer.

According to the Times, Rose and Allen remained lifelong friends:

Mr. Allen and Mr. Rose had talked on the phone as often as once a week, and when Mr. Allen visited Beverly Hills he often wandered over to Mr. Rose’s house and knocked on the door.

They conversed several times in the days before Mr. Rose’s death, Quincy Rose said. They talked about sports, old friends and, as the son recalled, an existential question, posed by Mr. Allen: “Are you scared?”

Rose is survived by his daughter Jennifer, son Quincy (named for the Bed-Stuy street he grew up on) and two grandchildren.

Phyllis Diller. Source: Wikipedia

CUNY Professor, Dr. Ira Epstein, will continue his “Ladies of Comedy” series at the Kings Bay YM-YWHA with the lecture, “Ladies of Comedy: Phyllis Diller,” April 25 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at the Kings Bay YM-YWHA, 3495 Nostrand Avenue between Avenue U and Avenue V.

Dr. Epstein will explore the career of the legendary comedienne through the use of numerous video clips.

To learn more, call (718) 648-7703, email or visit

Carol Burnett | Source:

If some of your fondest memories of the 1970s are of watching Carol Burnett struggle to contain uncontrollable laughter alongside the likes of Harvey Korman (of blessed memory), Tim Conway and Vicki Lawrence during the eponymous hit comedy / variety series that made her a household name, then you will love the Kings Bay YM-YWHA’s tribute to her this week.

Recommended for adults, CUNY Professor Dr. Ira Epstein will explore the career of the multi-talented, strawberry blond comedienne through video clips and stories during a program called “Ladies of Comedy: Carol Burnett” at the Kings Bay Y, 3495 Nostrand Avenue, this Monday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

If you are not familiar with the genius that is Carol Burnett, behold:

For more, call (718) 648-7703, email or go to

While this isn’t technically Sheepshead Bay, it was taken by a Sheepshead resident and they were, at some point, on a Q train.

Sheepshead Bites photographer Randy Contello hit up the No Pants Subway Ride 2011 on Sunday. The annual event started in 2002 by Improv Everywhere, and has since spread to 50 cities worldwide. Thousands took the NYC ride this year, ending up pantsless in Union Square.

And apparently Sheepshead Bay was well-represented. Randy said he saw at least 70 people from the event make their way home, exiting the trains at the subway stations in Sheepshead Bay.

Did you go this year? How was it? Want to share some photos?

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