It’s Kerry Coddett’s New York, We’re Just Living in It

Coddett’s monthly show, Brooklyn, Stand Up!, is a celebration of Brooklyn comedy that doesn’t let its audience off the hook.

It’s Kerry Coddett’s New York, We’re Just Living in It

Hot Mic is a weekly column by Leah Abrams documenting, spotlighting, and reviewing live comedy in NYC. 

When did I know for sure I wanted to move to New York? Long before I visited for the first time when I was 12 and took the mandatory trips to Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, and M&M World. Long before some guy in Times Square handed me a copy of his EP and I thought, Wait, how does he know I’m a patron of the arts? I was so grateful, so willing to believe he saw something special in me. So eager to read it as a sign that I belonged here. 

The embarrassing answer is that I felt I owned New York—from the commoditized projections I gobbled up as a kid in The Devil Wears Prada, In the Heights, and The Nanny—long before I’d even seen it. I know—how cliche—classic transplant, dumb, doe-eyed 20-something behavior. You can’t own a city, and if you could, it certainly wouldn’t belong to me—or Andy Sachs, or Usnavi de la Vega, or even the fabulous Fran Fine. It just might belong to Kerry Coddett, though, or so I felt by the time I left her show at 275Park the other week. 

“I’m not that mad about gentrification,” Coddett said in her opening set. “I mean, it has brought produce.”

This was the kick-off to the “livest show in Brooklyn,” a celebration of Brooklyn comedy that Coddett founded in 2014 as the blocks around 275Park changed. Tucked under the BQE in Clinton Hill, 275Park is a Black-owned event space that hosts comedy shows, trivia nights, and live music with pub food and drinks on the menu. Coddett’s March 21 show celebrated her 37th birthday, complete with cake and a live DJ. My friends Nathan and Surafel joined, and we settled into the packed room with our watery tequila sunrises, ready to party.

Coddett is a veteran writer, actress, and stand-up comedian who’s been working stages in New York for more than a decade. And despite credits on Flatbush Misdemeanors, Desus & Mero, Ramy and more shows than I have space to list, she’s nowhere near as famous as she should be. Yet. Because Kerry Coddett is really fucking funny: a born entertainer whose work spans from some of the best political material I’ve seen in months to good, old-fashioned family trauma shit about having a “bruncle.” 

“Who’s here from Manhattan?” Coddett began before running through a borough checklist with appropriate barbs for Manhattan and Staten Island, as well as the one woman who drove in from the Bronx. Like Coddett, the vast majority of the crowd was from Brooklyn, and of the five or so white people in the crowd, she seemed to know most of them by name. “Those are my coworkers,” she said. “Don’t tell HR.”

In her set, Coddett took aim at Eric Adams, Donald Trump (“I like Trump in the news because I like my ops where I can see them.”), Fani Willis (a good one for the MSNBC crowd), and the gentrification that’s reshaped the Brooklyn of her childhood.  

“White people, I don’t want y’all to get robbed, per se,” she said. “But y’all should still operate like it’s a strong possibility. Like, people really have the audacity to be on the subway late at night with their Macbooks out, typing away on the way to Bed-Stuy. You think I’m pussy?!”

Though at one point during her crowd work, Coddett called me a “light-skinned Kelly Rowland,” I’m a white Jewish woman who’s lived in what is, for commercial real estate purposes, now called “East Williamsburg,” for less than four years. Reviewing a comedy show for Jezebel. The jokes practically write themselves. Very “Wait. Is this fucking play about us?” Even writing about the show and so strongly recommending it feels fraught—is Brooklyn, Stand Up! just the latest thing I’m gentrifying? 

Ultimately, that’s part of why I liked the show so much. The best comedy doesn’t let its audience off the hook. It calls you out. It reminds you someone’s taking note of the mundane, the annoying, the shit that otherwise slides by. It makes you ask yourself, Wait, how did she know? Like when Coddett said she had “crispy panties” drying on her showerhead at home, and I felt simultaneous waves of shame and relief in glorious self-recognition. 

And on top of it all, it was just really fun. The show has three rules: no recording, pay attention, and don’t cross your arms. It featured incredible sets from Neko White, who had a great bit about how weed has gotten stronger over the years; Nore Davis, who talked about collecting obituary cards like Pokémon cards; Calise Hawkins, who joked about her minister grandmother reading romance novels during the pandemic; and Phil Hunt, who did a strange rant about DUIs that I was too drunk to fully remember. In the middle, at intermission, Coddett pulled six audience members—including my friend Surafel—onstage for a live “finish the song” game. 

“I’ve had the time of my life,” sang the crowd. “And I’ve never felt this way before.” We celebrated Coddett’s birthday, but we were also celebrating Brooklyn, New York, and all the people in it—maybe even the transplants. OK, probably not the transplants. But if you want to get rid of me, you’ll have to steal the MacBook I typed this on first.

You can catch the next Brooklyn, Stand Up! on April 18, 2024.

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