Much Needed Comedy on a Cold Night: Q.E.D.’s Relationsh*t

hosts

Morgan Pielli and Lynn Bixenspan

Q.E.D. is exactly the type of venue Astoria has always needed. It’s a place that advocates for the arts by offering classes, events, shows—and most importantly, comedy.

This past Friday night, my boyfriend and I braved the below-freezing temperatures (well okay, we took a heated Uber) and went out to see Q.E.D.’s Relationsh*t, an irreverent comedy show featuring adult themes and a live therapy session. Ironically, the two of us got into a slight disagreement on the way there, and I couldn’t help hoping that a show making light of relationship issues might help us laugh it off.

Relationsh*t is hosted by comedians Lynn Bixenspan and Morgan Pielli, who aren’t in a romantic relationship but who do have great comedic chemistry. I could’ve easily listened to their banter for the entire show. The theme of the night was “dating,” though Relationsh*t’s stories can be about any type of relationship: friendship, familyship (is that even a word?), even one’s relationship with pooping—which they apparently covered last time. After the introductions and some gripes about their online dating woes, Lynn and Morgan brought out a series of guests who had each prepared a hilarious true story about their own dysfunctional dating experiences.

First up was Selena Coppock, who told a story about going on a few dates with a guy that she eventually broke it off with because she wasn’t sexually attracted to him. Then a year or two later, she was chosen to act in a commercial he was directing, and his sudden authoritativeness made her swoon. They ended up having a spicy meeting that Halloween–her being dressed as Sexy Duck Dynasty probably helped.

Next Nick Padilla told a story about being chosen to act in a student-directed play where the stage directions basically were [Make out. Take off clothes]. When he met his co-star, he was instantly attracted to her, but she made it clear that she wasn’t into him at all. Plus she had a boyfriend. In spite of all that, Nick was delighted to find that their rehearsal sessions started pushing the boundaries more and more. When they finally performed in front of a crowd, which included the girl’s boyfriend, she actually gave Nick a hand job on stage. Nick was expecting the boyfriend to punch him out, but after the show the boyfriend bounded up to him, shook his hand, and said, “I’m so proud of you guys! Great job!”

The last storyteller was Myka Fox, who received therapy live on stage from two licensed therapists (who also happen to be comedians). She confessed to the audience that she’s with a really great guy, but said that he clearly loves her more than she loves him, and his complaints about her lack of empathy are starting to make her wonder if she’s a psychopath. (She’d like to think she’s just a terrible girlfriend.) The therapists told her that she’s pulling away because of a fear of intimacy, and that if she does love him, she needs to go out of her way to show it by doing things like asking about his day—which Myka wasn’t too happy about. The therapists concluded that Myka isn’t a psychopath, but should definitely be in therapy.

Needless to say, my boyfriend and I had a great time seeing Relationsh*t and would gladly go again. It was full of honest jokes and it pushed the boundaries, like all good comedy shows should. It also lightened our mood. As we traveled home together, we apologized, talked through our disagreement, and felt thankful—very thankful—that our relationship isn’t half as crazy as the ones we’d just heard about.

Q.E.D.’s Relationsh*t runs every second Friday of the month at 9:30 p.m.

Stephanie M. Grossman


Review of Repeater: A Little Show About Big Songs

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On a rainy Tuesday, I went to check out Repeater: A Little Show About Big Songs at QED here in Astoria. I have seen a few shows at QED before, but this one was new to me. Comedians Evan Barden and Pat Cartelli host a  monthly discussion about a single song that their monthly guest loves and cherishes. They go on to discuss the history behind the guests’ love of the song, as well as their personal history. The original guest comedian Jo Firestone had to cancel at the last minute, but the replacement guest Courtney Maginnis confidently stepped in.

The show began with the three comedians talking about a band that they’ve been obsessed with lately. There was some funny banter about Hamilton and Solange Knowles’ new album, to which Courtney is a huge fan. Her personal song turned out to be “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. Her quirky story about her family gatherings at a beach house was relatable to anyone who has one side of the family that might party a bit too hard. The song was played for the audience just in case anyone was unfamiliar with the classic tune. Whistling was involved!

Courtney, Evan and Pat then talked about their varying experiences as comedians, and we got to learn a little more about them. The whole show is recorded as a live podcast, so the audience is treated to a conversational show. As self deprecating as the comedians were, you could tell they definitely have a passion for music and their craft. It was interesting to learn about these people, as well as their families and even personal struggles. Their stories made me laugh quite a bit, as well as some of the awkward silences. It’s all part of the show, and I have to give the hosts props for dealing with last-minute guest changes.

After the funny conversation, the audience was treated to singer/songwriter Anielle Reid. She came on stage with a banjo, and played a few great soulful songs. Her banjo picking was flat-out great, and her voice is phenomenal. She deserved all the applaud she received. At the end of the show, a few prizes were given out, including an LP and some Otis Redding stickers. Overall this was a fairly entertaining show, and I have to give thanks to the hosts being so positive on a fairly rainy night, and with a less than expected turnout. I would definitely recommend it if you’re a music fan.

You can look up future shows of Repeater at qedastoria.com, and on their twitter account twitter.com/repeatershow

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Review of Evensong

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Putting a Human Face on Homelessness. Lisa Huberman on Evensong by Christina Quintana at Astoria Performing Arts Center.

What is poverty supposed to look like? And how do you recover your sense of worth when your life fails to live up to its potential, even if you have followed all of the rules the American Dream assures will lead to success? These are the central questions that animate Christina Quintana’s Evensong, the raw yet tender drama of homelessness in New York City, brought to vivid life at The Astoria Performing Arts Center.

In Evensong, we follow Teofilo “Teo” Aguilar (Daniel Prado), a Texas transplant to New York who has found himself checking into a homeless shelter after a string of bad luck. As an educated, clean-cut bank teller, Teo does not think of himself as a typical homeless person. He is definitely, he believes, of a different class and species from, say, the cagey Gladys (Marie Louise Guinier), who obsesses over the hot water kettle and absurdly demands a vegetarian option at their subsidized shelter meal. The tension between Teo’s financial circumstances and his self-identity remain a tension throughout the play. He may flirt with the shelter volunteer Bob (Chad Castarphen), and yet his role as a resident of the facility draws an invisible line between their chemistry. At his job for Bank of America, Teo has to scramble to make up excuses to his co-worker Haque (Sai Somboon) for why he can’t come out drinking and drags a suitcase everywhere. And yet at the same time, the second-hand suit he wears to his job at Bank of America signals to the homeless man on the subway (Doug Rossi) that he is an asshole for not giving him any money.

All of this could have the potential to descend into melodrama, but Quinana’s script and David Mendizábal’s direction zero in on the ferocity of the characters’ pain while never sentimentalizing it. (more…)


Review of sLICe

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There’s a new pizza place in Astoria that definitely deserves your attention. The Long Island City pizza joint sLICe has opened up a second location on 30th Avenue in Astoria, and it is a much welcomed addition to the already great pizza scene. The inside of sLICe is very warm and welcoming. Its bright white interior meshes well with its red chairs and signs. Almost a mozzarella and sauce combination of color. New hip-hop was playing quietly from the speakers, and gave the interior a fun and loose vibe. There are five two-person tables to sit down and devour whichever pizza option you choose. And there are quite a number of options. I was given the opportunity to try five different slices, and it was very hard to choose a favorite.

I first bit into the classic Margherita slice. The cheese and sauce were perfectly portioned, and the fresh basil added the always delicious kick. The crust they use also has a very nice garlic taste to it. Usually when I get a Margherita slice somewhere, it hardly has any garlic flavor whatsoever. This was a nice change. I loved it.

Next up, I tried a classic NY slice. Again, the cheese and sauce ratio was great, and it was nicely crunchy on the bottom, yet still perfectly foldable. The perfect slice on the go.

I then tried the white ricotta slice. It wasn’t flavored with too much garlic, so I actually tasted the ricotta and cheese a lot more than some other white pies I’ve had. Definitely a good choice if you’re tired of the ol’ tomato sauce pizza.

The Sicilian slice was a mouthful. The crust is pre-baked, then topped with sauce and cheese, and then cooked again to make it even crispier. It was a little too doughy for me, but still absolutely delicious. It was nice that I could see the top of the dough was brown, so you could definitely tell that it had really been baked for the first time without any sauce or cheese on it.

My favorite slice was probably the grandma slice. It has the plum cherry tomato sauce that comes on the Margherita, but shape-wise, it’s like a smaller, thinner Sicilian slice. It was the perfect combination of the sauce, cheese, and dough. It had a perfectly crisp bottom, and a buttery crust that I absolutely loved.

The other options at sLICe include a great looking pepperoni slice, and even mini-calzones. They also have a large menu of subs and entrées. I look forward to going back to sLICe and trying a little bit of everything. Although it’ll be hard not to get at least one grandma slice every time I go back.

sLICe is located at 37-08 30th Ave, 718-606-9258


Reading Series: The Worst Mother in the World

Mission to (dit)Mars, a Queens theatre group, kicked off this year’s Launch Pad reading series with The Worst Mother in the World, a new play by Kari Bentley-Quinn. There are three characters in the play: Nina, a new mother with severe anxiety and postpartum depression; Bonnie, Nina’s therapist; and Mary, Bonnie’s daughter. The play explores the relationships between therapist and patient, mother and daughter, and two strangers who become friends. Especially interesting is the mother-daughter dynamic between Bonnie and Mary, who have a complicated and difficult relationship.

I could certainly see the scenes unfolding in my head, and hope that it will be able to be performed on stage soon. Good luck to Bentley-Quinn.

From the Mission to (dit)Mars website:

About the Launch Pad Reading Series
The Launch Pad is a free reading series of new plays by Queens playwrights. The mission objective of The Launch Pad is to serve as a testing ground for Queens based playwrights who need to hear their plays out loud. Because Mission to (dit)Mars was co-founded by playwrights and directors, we understand implicitly how to answer those needs. Through this program, the utmost care is taken to foster a safe and productive environment in order to propel the play forward.

The Broom Tree Theater is located at
Astoria First Presbyterian
23-35 Broadway,
Astoria, NY 11106


BOAST: Best of Astoria survey (November 2016) is LIVE

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Now that the election is behind us, let’s turn to something more positive: our favorite things of Astoria! The BOAST: Best of Astoria survey (November 2016) is now live, and here is the link. There are three pages on the survey: one for EAT, one for DRINK, and one for DO & SEE. There are also boxes for short write-ups in each category, and we would appreciate if you did those. You may even see your writing on the site! At the end of the survey, you can enter your email for a chance to win a prize to a local business.

The survey closes on November 30, so be sure to fill it out before then. Do you know people in Astoria who may not know about BOAST? You can forward them the link to the survey. If you want to see the current BOAST winners, here are the pages for EAT, DRINK, and DO & SEE.

Thanks in advance for participating! You, the people who take the surveys, are what make content of the site possible.


New BOAST survey soon!

The next BOAST: Best of Astoria survey will be released soon! What categories would you like to see on the next survey? Anything else you’d like to see on the site? Reply in a comment, on the Contact page, or email hello@boast.nyc. We look forward to hearing from you!


Two tickets to Evensong

We’re giving away two tickets to a show of Evensong at APAC (Astoria Performing Arts Center). It runs November 5-19, and you can see more information on the post below. The first person to respond gets the tickets, either by commenting on this post, using the Contact form, or emailing hello@boast.nyc.


APAC Kicks Off 16th Season

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(From Astoria Performing Arts Center)

Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) kicks off its 16th season with  the world premiere of Evensong. Evensong traces the story of Teofilo “Teo” Aguilar (played by Daniel Prado), a young Mexican-American gay man and member of New York City’s working homeless population. A Texas transplant with big dreams, Teo works as a bank teller, goes on mediocre online dates, and searches for stability and human connection while navigating the tangled shelter system. Using structural elements of choral music and conventions of theatrical magic, Evensong is a tale of survival, growth, and faith in moments of loneliness and solitude. A shorter version of Evensong was featured in INTAR’s American Nightcap Series in 2014. The full-length play was featured on HowlRound and the Latina/o Theatre Commons’ Presente: A Roll Call of New Latina/o Plays last summer. The 90-minute production at Astoria Performing Arts Center marks the play’s world premiere.

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Astoria Performing Arts Center presents EVENSONG – A New Play
Written by Christina Quintana
Directed by David Mendizábal

November 3 – 19, 2016 (Opening Night: Saturday, November 5th at 8 p.m.)
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. | Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Evensong runs November 3 – 19 at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
30-44 Crescent St (at 30th Road)
Astoria, NY 11102

Tickets on sale now: $18 for adults ($12 for students and senior citizens) tickets may also be purchased in person at the box office ½ hour prior to each performance.


Ticket Giveaway

We are giving away two tickets to the funny and entertaining show What Are You Afraid Of? hosted by Mara Wilson at Q.E.D. on Thursday, Oct. 27, 7:30-9pm. You can comment on this post, on the event post here, or you can write to us using the Contact form. So many ways to win! First to respond gets the tickets.