For the single New Yorker, comedy shows are one of the best excuses to get out of the house. There are always free or $5 shows out there, and one or two drinks will suffice to round out the night. But once coupled, comedy night becomes a date night, and going to shows can rack up quite a sum. If you’re treating your s/o to a headliner show with tickets, drinks and maybe a bite to eat beforehand, you’ll quickly come to spend at least $50 for an evening out.
Enter Homeless Comedy, a “New York comedy club without a home” founded by 38-year-old comedian Will Mars. Homeless Comedy provides the same comedy club experience, but as DIY living room entertainment in your very own apartment. You can drink your own booze and cook your own food; all you’re paying for is the comedy.
“Just clear out a corner of your main room, turn the seats to face it, invite a bunch of friends around, and we’ll turn up to do the rest,” Mars said.
Mars spoke to Brokelyn about his idea for the group, and how he thinks it complements an already saturated comedy scene in NYC.
“I noticed that most of the exciting comedy clubs and things that were sprouting up had been comic-driven, one-off bar shows,” Mars told us. “Everything more exciting is in Brooklyn and Queens right now [because] it has more of a community feel. And I just wanted to take it a step further, like why don’t we see about putting shows on in an apartment? A bespoke comedy night, just the audience and the comedians.”
Mars, A British comedian based in Brooklyn, hosts all of the shows himself. He brings two or three comedians along with him from the Homeless Comedy roster: Carmen Lynch (Conan), Moody McCarthy (Letterman), Emma Willmann (AXS TV), Cyrus McQueen (Last Comic Standing), Liz Miele (Comedy Central), Mike Lebovitz (Last Comic Standing), Anthony DeVito (Adam Devine’s House Party) and Greg Stone (AXS TV).
As for Mars himself, he’s a transplant from the UK comedy scene, where he’s been shortlisted on all kinds of lists for his standup and sketch comedy. Mars said he was careful to assemble a roster of comedians that could satisfy the wide-ranging audience types that might come looking for an in-house comedy experience.
“I wouldn’t try to bill someone that would be divisive in a room,” Mars said. “You need somebody that can work a room really well. These are all comics I’ve worked with in the last year or so — exciting acts, at good points in their careers, and they all have their own distinctive flavor.”
Each booked show is 75-90 minutes long, with two headlining comic acts and Mars as MC.
Booking fees are decent, starting at $150 for a party of 8-15 people. The best way to do it, says Mars, is to round up a group of friends and split the cost. If you can get a solid 15 people, each person pays only $10. Large parties are cheaper: $250 for a party of 26-35 people, a price tag that covers additional PA equipment brought in to amplify sound for the party, could still run you as little as $7.15 per person. Of course there’s booze and food to add into the equation, but if everyone contributes to the table potluck-style, it won’t be pricey.
No bachelorette or bachelor parties allowed, and all shows are for family and friends only. In other words, don’t try to turn your living room into an Airbnb Studio 54.
There’s something Gatsby-esque about DIY in-home entertainment, a movement that has been growing in popularity lately since the emergence of peer-to-peer platforms like Groupmuse. It’s doubtful these kinds of shows will ever outpace the practice of going to actual comedy shows (like Seamless did with dining out), but Mars told us he doesn’t intend for this service to compete.
“There’s the comedy community, and then there’s your friendship group,” Mars said. “You could go out to your local area, that’s good. And I’m not saying this is an alternative like one or the other. It’s just instead ‘Hey I’ve got a show at my house,’ and just naturally when you’ve got a comedian entertaining the group, that’ll naturally become about you and your group, too.”
For bookings, go to www.homelesscomedy.com.