Newbies rock the mic at Carolines
The stage at Carolines On Broadway has seen world-renowned stand-up, legends of comedy and fast-rising newcomers.
On most Monday nights — on Tuesday, however, this week — during the New Talent showcase, Caroline’s passes the microphone to brand new comics, many of whom are at the very beginning of what they hope to be long careers in stand-up.
amNew York chatted with Linda Smith, the head talent booker for Carolines New Talent and teacher at Carolines School of Comedy, to find out what she looks for in a young comic and what it takes to succeed on New Talent night.
It’s much more entertaining for an audience to see a new comic try something new than to see him or her trot out dusty old Seinfeldian observations or stale treatises on race or how “women be shoppin’.”
“I don’t want someone kind of generic,” Smith said. “I want people being brutally honest while telling the truth.”
Some famous stand-ups like Eddie Izzard can spend 20 minutes telling one story, wringing every single laugh out of one premise or observation. Performers at the New Talent showcase get six minutes. Get to the point.
“If you’re a storyteller, you have to shave it down, and that’s tough for someone who’s green,” Smith said.
Don’t Get Scared
The New Talent showcase also features three professional comics (at the beginning, middle and end), along with the occasional drop-in set by some pretty big names, including Judah Friedlander, Louis CK and Darrell Hammond. The most harrowing place in the lineup for a new comic can sometimes be right after a pro has just performed.
“Ride the wave,” Smith said. “Don’t mention that guy. Be confident and own the space.”
If you go: The New Talent showcase is tomorrow, 7:30 p.m., $16.50. (N.B.: This weekly event is usually on Monday.)