Have you ever wanted to sit in the studio audience at a live-taping of a comedy show? Well now’s your chance. Email firstname.lastname@example.org by this Wednesday, March 25 and you can be on-set at this Friday, March 27’s taping of the “It’s Happening Show,” a “night-time comedy-facing variety show” that is hosted by Fort Greene residents and pals Lauren Lumsden and Josh Lay.
According to Lauren — a comedienne and journalist formerly of DailyCandy — next up on March 27 are “one of the top sommeliers in the world” and Scott Weiner of the always fun and educational Scott’s Pizza Tours.
Launched February 5 and airing monthly on the Brooklyn Public Access channel and online through Brooklyn Independent Media (aka BRIC), the show features relaxed (as in wine and Red Bull-fueled) conversations with interesting New Yorkers ranging from actor Mark Tallman (NBC’s State of Affairs) and Paper Magazine editorial director Mickey Boardman, to celebrity diet columnist/author Rebecca Harrington and Lina Plioplyte, who directed the Advanced Style documentary.
We caught up with the dynamic duo at BRIC to talk funny start-up stories, comedy inspirations, dream guests, favorite food and more.
How did the show come about?
Lauren: We both have comedy backgrounds and thought would be fun to have our own show. We’ve already been freelance video producing, so we took a class to be certified as a community producer at BRIC. Then it took us a while to get it off the ground, but we said ‘we need to do this.’ so we strategized what we wanted to be and brainstormed guests.
Josh: We originally thought we’d do a live theater show, but the logistics didn’t work and then we had all these crazy resources from BRIC.
Lauren: Everyone is so awesome and BRIC is so nice. We’ve performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade and thought of doing it there, but BRIC legitimizes the show and it airs all over Brooklyn. BRIC is like our Cheers!
What’s special about the show compared to other late-night comedy shows?
Josh: Professionalism, and our experience working in TV and that format (Josh has worked in late-night-TV with Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, among other shows). The script is really tight, the segments, too. And Lauren does a really good job of booking guests that aren’t all comedians or musicians.
Lauren: We pick interesting people who we really just want to meet. It’s just the viewer watching us hang out. We drink wine, Josh drinks whiskey. We try to keep it a good mix of funny and interesting. If there are questions of our guests that people want to know, even if they’re not particularly funny, we still ask them.
Josh: Another thing we do that’s a lot of fun is a little comedy skit up top. For example, recreating the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer.
Lauren: We also did a fake Public Service Announcement explaining that Josh and I are NOT a couple. Josh’s wife is one of my best friends.
Who and what are your inspirations?
Lauren: Before we started the show, we looked at other famous duos doing similar things, so i watched a lot of Kelly And Michael. We took inspiration from them in terms of how do they react to one another? And logistically, who talks the most, and best practices for not talking over one another.
Josh: One thing that’s inspiring about this project is your whole crew is made up of fellow community producers. There’s kind of a pureness to the whole thing where yeah, you’re making television, but no one’s getting paid and you barter talents to help out on different shows.
Lauren: I worked on a show about meditation and I don’t know a lot about meditation. It was awesome. There’s also a wide variety of age groups. So we’re in our early 30s and our camera guy on our last shoot goes by ‘Pop’ and he’s probably in his late 50s —
Josh: He’s in his 70s.
Lauren: He walked in Selma! It’s really cool to meet a really good, diverse group of people who I feel like I wouldn’t meet in my normal day-to-day life. Other inspirations are from comedy in general, like Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Tina Fey, and Chelsea Handler as the rare female in the late night TV space.
Josh: Will Forte, Fred Armisen, and just being in the neighborhood. In Fort Greene, you walk to wherever and you see people you know all the time.
Why is laughter important and universal for society?
Josh: In general, there’s so much negativity in social media and media. A lot of times it is snarky comedians, but we try to keep it light, fun and positive. When you can laugh about things, it makes the audience and guests comfortable.
Can viewers live vicariously through you?
Lauren: We don’t have a filter so if you have question, we’re not gonna steer clear.
Josh: Also, because it’s public access, we don’t have executive producers in our ear telling us to tone in back or cut for time. It really is just two friends hanging out.
Lauren: We don’t want it to feel overly polished.
Josh: I love that we can have camera 11 and audio person who have only run that equipment once before.
Lauren: It’s all those little mistakes and slip-ups that we kind of embrace. Improv comedy’s emphasis is learning who to embrace those mistakes and sometimes make those the basis of the upcoming comedy scene.
Who are your dream guests?
Josh: Will Forte and, oh, the lovely couple that just moved to Brooklyn – Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde.
Lauren: Pat Kiernan and Kristen Shaughnessy of NY1.
What and where do you eat in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill?
Lauren: The soup and half sandwich at Hungry Ghost. And Josh and his wife go to Walters a lot.
Josh: We have our cold weather and warm weather places. I do love Walter’s, Cafe Lafayettte, No. 7, Elaba on Dekalb, Dick and Jane’s, Roman’s, and Prospect is good for drinks.
Lauren: The broccoli tacos at No. 7 and I’m excited for Habana Outpost to reopen. Academy Diner is awesome; the soup is so good. Also, Mullane’s,
What’s trending in local and national news and pop culture?
Lauren: Everyone’s talking about high-rises coming to Fort Greene. Also, The Jinx (the Robert Durst documentary) is better than Serial. It’s still highly effective, especially if you’r’re interested in filmmaking at all. I just want someone to watch it with me so we can talk about it. And Connecticut Muffin closed.
Josh: I used to go there for Vanilla Hazelnut coffee. In general, I’m super into The Last Man On Earth on Fox with Will Forte. I haven’t laughed that hard at a show in a long time. Also, Better Call Saul. Just get through the first two episodes to get through the world then it heats up.
Lauren: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I love Ellie Kemper.