When comedian Dan Goodman approaches hotel concierges about his comedy and pole dancing show, they always give him a puzzled look.
It doesn’t compute. How could two completely distinct things possibly work together?
Well, for one, the pole dancers don’t strip and they aren’t telling the jokes. They leave the funny stuff to comedians they share the stage with between their routines.
“It’s fun to see a dancer in their peak physical condition with a comic in peak mental depression,” he told amNewYork.
“Nobody wants to see a pole dancer telling a joke,” his fiancee and fellow comedian JoAnna Ross chimed in. “Heavy breathing during the punchline doesn’t work.”
The couple created the monthly show “Schtick A Pole In It,” which combines the awe-inspiring athleticism of pole dancing with the hilarity of New York City jokesters. They’re hosting two shows dedicated to Prince this month.
It may be a complicated idea to the uninitiated, so we’ll break it down for you:
No one strips. It’s sexy, but it’s also just pure entertainment.
Ross and Goodman get the question all the time.
“People look at us with googly eyes,” Ross said. “When you come to the show, they’re not taking their clothes off. Within three seconds of them being on stage you realize they’re not strippers. My mom comes and wants to come every single month. It is sexy and she’s Catholic.”
The show certainly breaks down preconceived notions of what a pole dancing and comedy show can be. A lot of people haven’t experienced them or have their own ideas about them.
“When you say ‘Schtick In A Pole,’ if you’re going to flinch at that, you’re not coming, but most people are intrigued,” Ross added. “We provide you with something you’ve never seen before. There are definitely times when I look at what’s going on at the show and think ‘this is so beautiful.’”
The skills on display will wow you and the jokes will have you crying. It is unlike anything you’ll find in New York City, they said.
“It is just so much fun,” Goodman said. “There’s great music, you’ll see insane tricks and then you’re going to laugh your a– off. You’ll be laughing and then screaming because someone drops from the top of a pole to do a split.”
Comedians and pole dancers alternate time on the stage.
The dances, most of which are done by local pole dancing teachers, last about three minutes each and they’re not funny, unless one of them wants to be.
“We encourage them not to be funny,” Goodman said. “It’s the fun juxtaposition of a super fit person, an amazing athlete and dancer, and a super neurotic, weirdo New Yorker guy complaining about some silly thing in his life.”
Past comedians have included Dan Soder, Ted Alexandro, Anthony Devito, Emma Willmann, and Mark Normand, among others.
There’s something kitschy about it but it’s not too far off from a nightclub experience in the 1950s, where you’d have someone singing and dancing with a funny host, the couple suggest.
That’s what Goodman hopes to make clear when he makes his rounds to hotels about Schtick A Pole In It.
“When [the concierges] realize the comedy and the pole dancing are not at the same time, a light goes off in their head,” he said.
Each month has a different music theme — this month the spotlight is Prince.
Goodman and Ross choose a beloved artist to feature each month and it’s usually someone you won’t hear at a club or a bar.
Past themes have included Pat Benatar, Guns N’ Roses, The Beatles, Janet Jackson, and Lady Gaga (the exception).
“We choose artists that people love but don’t necessarily hear when they go out. I wish I walked into a bar and heard The Beatles, but you just don’t.”
When they honored David Bowie recently, audience members came dressed with their own versions of the icon’s makeup.
When Guns N’ Roses was featured and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” came on, the audience went wild, Ross said.
“It was just ridiculous,” she said. “The audience reacted even before she danced, and when she danced … it was over.”
Its concept originally came from a benefit for a friend.
The couple’s good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer more than five years ago, so they put on a show to help her pay her medical bills.
Ross was already connected to the pole dancing community because she taught yoga at a pole dancing studio, and she and Goodman had a lot of connections in the comedy realm.
The concept won people over — they had to turn people away at the door that night.
“I really thought we’d give her $100 and call it a day, but we ended up giving her $7,000,” Ross said. “I’m glad we didn’t turn back.”
The Prince show will be their 70th, which makes them both shake their heads in disbelief. They said they never would have thought the show would keep going after six years, but there’s a niche for it. The pole dancing community doesn’t have a regular, dedicated space to show off skills that are practiced at the studios peppered throughout the city, they said.
“It’s what the sport needs,” Goodman said, adding that they’d like to expand to other cities and plan on doing so in Chicago this fall.
And while some cities don’t want it (yet), “they will eat their words and they’ll want us,” Ross said.
This month’s Prince shows at Drom NYC (85 Avenue A) are on Sept. 21 and 22. Tickets are $20-$30 on ticketfly.com.