This Week in Indie Comedy: 'The Buttcracker Special,' Morgan Spurlock, and a Dominatrix

Categories: Comedy

David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons
Morgan Spurlock guests on "Running Late" at Carolines this Thursday.

This week in Cheap Laughs, we have improvised wit, a dominatrix bit, shows that won't quit, and the woman who keeps cutting Lena Dunham down to size. Here's our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.

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DIY Darlings Frankie Cosmos Step Into the Mainstream

Photo by Julia Leiby
Greta Kline (far left) and her band, Frankie Cosmos
Greta Kline is sitting in an Upper East Side diner, Three Guys, picking at a plate of eggs. She doesn't appear to have noticed that the waitress brought her home fries instead of the hash browns she ordered. The twenty-year-old songwriter is too preoccupied discussing her guitar-pop band, Frankie Cosmos, and breaking the room's hushed ambience with wandering monologues about the things whizzing around her brain: touring, chauvinism, New Year's Eve.

Frankie Cosmos' breezy songs tend to cover very specific topics — like dirty water splashing up from the street — and Kline's ruminations come across similarly: pointed and confident, but delivered in a sunny, meandering package.

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The Ten Best Concerts in New York This Week, 1/26/15

DeShaun Craddock
Zola Jesus
The best part about seeing a concert during a blizzard is that there are plenty of pockets to store your earplugs. For more shows throughout the week, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

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Blake Shelton Twangs Out of Tune on SNL

Honestly, Blake? We're not mad. We're just disappointed.

Shelton's hosting/performing gig on Saturday Night Live this week is a lesson in coulda-woulda-shoulda: He could've brought a bit of country to the concrete jungle, and he could've downplayed the differences between the big city and the small-town sensibilities embraced by his music and persona. Despite some great comedic moments, an epic fake music video in "Wishin' Boot," and perfectly respectable renditions of "Boys 'Round Here" and "Neon Light," he stayed straight in the confines of assumption and delivered exactly the kind of episode we'd anticipate from someone who may as well be dubbed Music Row's Hollywood ambassador. He did what pop-country stars are expected to do by those who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the genre: He banked on the easy jokes and became a cartoon of himself that grew more ridiculous with every punchline, and he threw a pall over his performance (and country music on the whole) in the process.

He gave the haters what they wanted — and that's a problem, as Shelton's hokey routine set his songs up to fail.

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The Ten Best Concerts in New York This Weekend, Feat. Tom Waits's Right-Hand Man

Categories: Concerts, Weekend

Publicity photo
Ferry Corsten performs Friday at Space NYC.
For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

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Twenty Great Metal Albums That Turn 25 in 2015

Categories: Lists, Metal

Danzig II: Lucifuge
Twenty-five years ago the Gulf War started, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Jennifer Lawrence was born, and that's about all we can think of without referring to Wikipedia or one of our older colleagues who still has a functioning long-term memory. 1990 also saw the release of several excellent metal records. Here's the twenty we like best.

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Ask Andrew W.K.: Embrace the Awkwardness of Hugging

Photo by Rick Day
[Editor's note: Every Wednesday, New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party. Need his help? Just ask:]


Today is National Hugging Day. Would you please hug me?


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Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice Give 7 'Non-Hits' to Song One

Song One stars Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn and features the music of Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice. The film opens in theaters and will be available on demand on Friday. The soundtrack is out now.

Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice had at least three objectives in mind when they agreed to write original tunes for the film Song One:

1. Write songs to be performed onscreen by "James Forester," a reclusive singer-songwriter with a cult-classic album to his credit, as well as by "Henry," a fan and fledgling musician.

2. Take producer Jonathan Demme's challenge to record the songs the way Skip Spence made Oar, a lost classic from the psychedelic genius's solo catalog.

3. Make sure at least one of said songs makes the film's star, Anne Hathaway, cry on camera.

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This Week in Indie Comedy: Dave Attell, $5 Grift, Awkward Sex, and Other Cheap Laughs

Categories: Comedy

Brad Barket
Dave Attell brings his "Comedy Underground" show to the Village Underground on Tuesday, January 27.

This week in Cheap Laughs, we have starry eyes, honest lies, pole-dance highs, puppet guys, a dancing surprise, and two great showcases from the legendary Mr. Dave Attell. Here's our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.

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Sufjan Stevens Reimagines the Rodeo With 'Round-Up' at BAM

Fringe, dust, rust, rope, leather, and ample helpings of red, white, and blue: All of these Americana adjectives and artifacts conjure a specific, classic image when the conversation loops around a rodeo. Men tipping cowboy hats, bucking, beautiful beasts, and a chorus of "YEE-HAW!"s are guaranteed to present themselves when a spectator moseys up to an arena or a fairground to watch one of these rough-stock extravaganzas in person. When rodeos are portrayed in movies or cartoons, the scenes are familiar — from the setting to the characters involved, right down to the spur in their step and the twang in their accent.

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