Comedienne Alyse Kenny is right on target with comedy’s new trend: women gaining recognition for their comedic endeavors. From Tiny Fey to Mindy Kaling to Kristen Wiig, women are making their mark in comedic roles. Alyse Kenny is doing just that and doing it for a good cause.
Alyse’s latest endeavor is as producer of “Alyse Kenny Presents…It’s a Charity Thing!” – a comedy show put on each month at the Gotham Comedy Club. The show features several comedians, some more well-known than others. Alyse, with a well-rounded resume of stand-up comic, actress, and producer, also participates in the shows.
The most recent show on October 2nd benefitted “Men Having Babies,” a nonprofit fund that supports gay men who are looking to have children. The show, hosted by funnyman Jimmy Failla, featured seven comedians and became more entertaining as the night wore on. Coincidentally, the last four performers were all women.
As most comics do, the comediennes all pulled from their personal lives – Alyse focused on her psychoanalyst mother and “how that made her feel”; Michele Balan of Last Comic Standing came on stage with a glass of vodka and took it from there; and Cory Kahaney, who has appeared on Letterman, Last Comic Standing, and Comedy Central, joked about how she can never win a fight with her lawyer husband, and that third grade is the last year she can help her kids with their homework.
But the showstopper was definitely Judy Gold (left), Emmy winner and former writer and producer of The Rosie O’Donnell Show. As a gay woman herself, she spoke directly to the mostly gay audience and asked them why they’d ever want to have kids, citing her own two children and the woes of Baby Bjorn’s as examples. While the women stole the show, comedians Eddie Brill, Vidur Kapur, and Jeff Caldwell provided a strong start as the audience sipped their cocktails and relaxed into the evening.
The Gotham Comedy Club was a wonderful backdrop for the show. Sleekly designed with great seating at every angle, it felt more like a lounge than your average rundown comedy stop. Though drink prices were a bit on the higher side ($10-15 for wine or cocktails and $5.50 for a soda), the ambiance and experience made it worth the price, especially since the cover charge is going toward a worthy cause.
“Alyse Kenny Presents…It’s a Charity Thing!” will celebrate its one-year anniversary in January, 2013 with a huge show benefitting the Diabetes Research Institute of America. With shows booked through February, Alyse has high hopes to continue producing the show for a while. With her bubbly personality and general likability, I think it’s safe to say she will. I got a chance to speak with her by telephone after the show about why she started this project and how she got started in the business.
“I’ve always been drawn to comedy, sitcoms, and late night shows,” she stated. Though she began as a theater actress, she only turned to stand-up comedy at the suggestion of an acquaintance, and then took it from there. Regarding her acts, “I try to be real and give them the truth.” Her parents, a psychoanalyst (mother) and heart surgeon (father) are very supportive of her, even if she does poke fun at them now and then.
Alyse started “…It’s a Comedy Thing!” with help from Chris Mazzilli, owner of Gotham Comedy Club; she is very grateful to him. After participating in some shows there, they spoke about her producing her own and he mentioned doing it for charity. Alyse loved the idea and ran with it. “I wanted to introduce people to causes they may be unaware of,” she said. Since the start, she has been approached by audience members regarding various causes, and many of them have become the beneficiaries of the shows. The comedians are all booked through the club and the show features different comedians each month, so you can always be sure you’re in for something new and refreshing.
“Alyse Kenny Presents…It’s a Charity Thing” will hold its next show, benefitting The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation on Thursday, October 25th at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 with a two drink minimum.
If you are interested in speaking with Alyse about holding a show for a specific charity/cause, please contact her through her website.
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Eat: Machiavelli on the Upper West Side
Favorite Place to Shop: The flea market on 77th and Columbus (“My closet looks like the wardrobe department from The Partridge Family”)
Favorite New York Sight: Walking along the Hudson River at sunset, especially from Pier 1
Favorite New York Moment: New Year’s Eve in the city when everyone is in sync and sharing in the experience
What You Love About New York: The people, the variety, and the neighborhoods – there’s always something to do
What You Hate About New York: The noise!