East Williamsburg DIY comedians redefine ‘basement’ comedy nights
Comedians Chris Daniels and Kofi Thomas are hosting the tenth edition of their comedy night, “Auntie’s House,” Saturday at No. 4 Studio at 361 Stagg St. #204.
For those who consider a small stand-up comedy show in Brooklyn to be a bit risky for a night out, “Auntie’s House” distinguishes itself from basement comedy clubs and bar minimums by providing a house-party atmosphere with free drinks, a carefully selected set list and a dance party to close out the night.
“I wanted to start a show because I knew I wanted to have comedy be fun,” Thomas said, adding that he and Daniels sought to provide an alternative from the quiet rooms and rough nights that comics and audiences alike frequently have to endure.
Daniels and Thomas, both veterans of the comedy scene in New York, conceived of the show as way to access the casual vibe of being at the home of “that cool Auntie, the one who’ll let you drink a wine cooler and not snitch on you,” Thomas said, “that vibe is when like things are the funniest, and people are the most open.”
In order to capture their vision, “Auntie’s House” took place in Thomas’s own apartment for the first few shows. They built a stage into his living room, brought in a backdrop and provided tech, all with a pot of food on the stove too.
“We wanted something that would feel homey and natural,” says Daniels. “The name kind of came from — she’s going to take care of you.”
The show quickly outgrew the residential space to its current home at No. 4 Studio in Bushwick, a loft space that gives Daniels and Thomas the freedom to continue curating the mood of a house party rather than a ticketed venue.
At their most recent show on April 28, the hosts circulated after doors opened with music playing, encouraging people to take advantage of the open bar — which included a selection of Entenmann’s cake.
“We’re all here having a good time, so then once the comedy starts, everybody’s already in a good mood,” Thomas said.
And good moods mean more laughs. Thomas says that as much as he loves that the audiences enjoy themselves, the real reason he does this is to set up a good stage for fellow comics.
“I’ve been on so many bad stages,” Thomas said of the life of a comedian. “If I can just control one night to be fun, then I could regroup and tolerate all the bad shows that I have to get right back into.”
Despite all the additions to the typical comedy show, the hosts’ primary focus is always on the material.
“Our lineups are probably the most important part,” said Daniels, who added that they pay special attention to creating a set list of comedians that flow well together.
Daniels recalls how audiences have approached him to praise how they enjoyed every performer the lineup instead of just one or two.
“That helps us know that we’re doing a good job just curating the show,” he said.
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