Stand-Up With an Edge: A Taste of Cringe Humor at The Stand Comedy Club and Restaurant
Southern Manhattan is not lacking in full-time comedy clubs and bars.. Until now, however, it has not had a stand-up venue quite like The Stand Restaurant and Comedy Club. This thoroughbred comedy club was sired by Patrick Milligan, founder of Cringe Humor, which garnered the reputation of presenting excellent stand-up comedy shows in several NYC comedy venues as well as colleges around the country.
In 2005, Patrick partnered with the Italia brothers – Cris and Paul – and David Kimowitz. For years they have run Cringe Humor Entertainment, an event production company and talent management agency. This talented quartet now own and operate The Stand and bring to it their distinct, but complementary skills.
Patrick Milligan has over a decade of writing about and producing stand-up comedy under the entity known as Cringe Humor. He is the muse of The Stand’s comedy entertainment and is instrumental in deciding which comedians perform.
Cris Italia attended Cringe Humor performances and decided he wanted to get more involved. Prior to that, he spent a decade as an award-winning journalist and began by running the newsroom for a prominent chain of newspapers at the age of 20. Chris is the COO of The Stand and the partner you’ll most often encounter when you visit the restaurant/club.
Paul Italia was brought to the venture by his brother and, as CFO, concentrates on business issues facing the venue. His first challenge was to negotiate an amicable relationship with Community Board 6, since some members were wary of “clubs” based on the space’s previous life as a raucous nightclub. Understanding the concerns of the board and community members, it was agreed that the club would stay open no later than 2 a.m. on weekends and midnight on weekdays.
Kimowitz, who has been passionate about stand-up comedy since he was a child, is the most recent addition to the partnership – he joined CH Entertainment in 2006. As VP of talent management, David manages the careers of its growing roster of comedians.
The Stand has definite stand-up comedy style, typified by Mike DeStefano, the late stand-up comedian whose image is prominently displayed on the front sign of this Third Avenue club. DeStefano’s comic aesthetic is best summed up in his response to a recruiter’s request for a résumé:
DeStefano: I curse at strangers. You want me to put that in a résumé?
Recruiter: Well you’ve done stand-up for a couple of years. What did you do before that?
DeStefano: I was a drug addiction counselor for a few years.
Recruiter: And before that?
DeStefano: I was a drug addict.
Recruiter: And before that?
DeStefano: I was 10.
The Stand presents organic comedians who write almost exclusively from their own personal experiences. This style began in the 1960s with Lenny Bruce and evolved through Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Chris Rock. It is deep, meaningful stand-up that is hilarious when skillfully performed. This delightfully nutritious experience of entertainment with enlightenment generates a laugh that comes from your soul as well as your body. When unskillfully written or performed, this style of in-your-face comedy is experienced as offensive and tasteless.
Comedy clubs often choose to present “comfort comedy,” which deals with safe, sometimes trite concepts (McDonald’s, differences between men and women or dogs and cats), in a safe, “amusing” manner. Comfort comedy poses little danger of offending audiences but unfortunately holds little excitement or challenge. By continually reaching for risky comedy, The Stand takes a stand that warrants support from all of us who love stand-up comedy. “Risky” stand-up comedians provide more “moments of truth” in a 15-minute set than most of us observe in our vocational lifetimes. The Stand appreciates these matadors and presents them seven nights a week on Third Avenue and 20th Street.
A couple of the stand-up comedians that exemplify The Stand’s aesthetic are:
Adrienne Iapalucci: My boyfriend said to me: “If I killed someone, would you turn me in?” I said: “No, but I’d use it against you for a long time.” I’d say things like “Are you going to walk the dog, or do I have to make a phone call?”
Jim Norton: Ever since someone figured out how to put explosive material in a water bottle, we can’t bring water on airplanes. Why couldn’t they have figured out how to put bombs in crying infants?
The Stand’s menu is designed and administered by Executive Chef Seth Levine, proprietor of successful Manhattan restaurants such as Wine and Roses on the Upper West Side and Sons of Essex on the Lower East Side and offers a wide range of delectable delights for affordable prices.