BY BETH DEDMAN
Improv Asylum will begin a monthly comedy showcase, “Comedy Unleashed,” which will feature some of the city’s top stand-up comedians—performing to an audience of canines and their companions beginning 8 p.m. on March 30.
The shows are designed to welcome audience members with well-trained pups to enjoy a comedy night with their best friends.
“I own several different comedy clubs in New England and New York. I noticed that hanging out backstage, so many comedians have dogs,” Improv Asylum owner Norm Laviolette said. “So I thought, ‘Man it would be pretty funny to see one of these comedians do a show with their dog on stage.’ Then I thought, ‘Well, if we’re gonna do a show with comedians doing their dogs on stage, we should open up the spectacle to an audience with their dogs, too.’”
These shows will feature a dog-friendly menu including specially made treats, biscuits and veggie crudités as well as doggy cocktails like “The Dirty Muttini” and “Downward Drinking Dog” made with dog-safe flavors like watermelon, wheatgrass and chicken broth.
The first show will feature Kerryn Feehann, Mike Recine and headliner Paul Mercurio.
Dog-owners are encouraged to only bring dogs that are house trained and comfortable around other dogs. Professional dog trainers will be onsite to offer training tips and advice.
“If you’re a dog owner and can fit them in a bag or an Uber, then come on out and don’t worry about them being loud or a problem,” Recine said. “If you like your dog and you like to laugh, then this is for you. Just make sure your dog doesn’t heckle.”
Recine has a Shar-Pei pug mix named Frankie that he often has to leave at home or tied up outside while he performs his comedy.
“I think it’ll be fun to bring my dog out to a show and have him socialize,” Recine said. “He’ll be on stage with me and we’ll see how he does. He has come to a few comedy shows with me before, which I usually have to leave him outside and that makes him upset. Now he doesn’t have to leave daddy’s side.”
Mercurio is bringing his dog Daisy to the stage for the first time.
“This is exciting for me because I have done a lot of different performances but nothing like this,” Mercurio said. “That’s the brilliance of Norm, it’s hard to come up with a new kind of show and he did it. Dogs are lovable, make folks feel good and have their own personalities and all of that will come though. The show is really, for me, about the dogs and I adjust them to bring the most out of Daisy.”
Tickets are $25 per person and $15 per dog. Dogs are not required to attend the show. A portion of the proceeds will go to Badass Brooklyn, a local NYC dog shelter.
“What I’m looking forward to with the show that’s coming up is seeing what this is gonna be like,” Laviolette said. “We’ve gotten so much interest. I am looking forward to the controlled chaos.”
More information is available at www.improvasylum.com/newyork.