A Call to #SaveNYComedy


Christian Finnegan and Senator Michael Gianaris

On Tuesday afternoon, in downtown Manhattan, there was a press conference calling on state and city officials to safely reopen comedy clubs and save arts venues from economic collapse due to COVID. The event was sponsored by New York Comedy Coalition (which Kambri Crews, owner of QED Astoria, is a main part of). Speakers included New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, and New York-based comedians Christian Finnegan (Chappelle’s Show, Best Week Ever) and Ophira Eisenberg (NPR’s “Ask Me Another”).

Comedy shows in New York were happening in June, July, and part of August, but then in mid-August the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) updated their website to say, “Advertised and/or ticketed shows are not permissible,” stressing that this was to avoid gatherings “where people congregate, mingle, and create congestion at points of ingress and egress,” thereby closing all venues which had been operating in good faith.

Outdoor dining has been going on for a few months in NYC, and starting on September 30 restaurants in the city will be allowed to offer indoor dining at 25% capacity. Comedy clubs are not part of this plan.

New York Comedy Coalition has a proposal to allow ticketed arts and entertainment events. Collectively, they are calling on elected officials and stakeholders to implement the following:

Allow venues to be included with indoor bowling at 50% occupancy without food & beverage service immediately. Indoor bowling in NYC is allowed to occur at 50% indoor occupancy on the contingency that no food or beverage is consumed indoors. Independent arts venues should be allowed to operate in this exact same manner with safely spaced seating in theaters without food or beverage service.

Allow clubs to be included with restaurants at 25% occupancy for indoor service. Indoor dining at 25% capacity begins September 30th and independent performing arts spaces are not included in this plan. Once customers are seated, comedy clubs & many arts venues operate like any other food service establishment.

Allow outdoor performances to happen immediately. Venues remain closed in NYC banned from producing ticketed outdoor live performances which contradicts the fact that public gatherings with fewer than 50 attendees are allowed to continue without contact tracing or oversight.

Tell them what the metrics are. The Governor has rightly talked about science and statistics but is not sharing what the numbers are for when ticketed arts & entertainment will resume. The requests above are based on comparable rules of operations for safe reopening already in place, based in common sense. All we ask is that the comedy clubs are swiftly allowed the same newly regulated reopening parameters as other NYC industries, and that we are informed as to the logic of these decisions either way.

We love QED Astoria, as well as the other comedy clubs in NYC, so we are hoping they can reopen in a safe way very soon.

Photos courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris’ office.


These Steps Can Help Preserve Your Small Business Amidst Coronavirus


Photo via Pexels

Keeping your small business going during coronavirus is challenging. But as lawmakers continue to loosen restrictions, there’s still a lot of work to do. Taking steps toward preserving your business now and as the economy recovers will provide peace of mind and a game plan for moving forward.

Prioritize Small Business Survival

While you can still grow your business during COVID-19, your first priority should be survival. Think of ways you can support your staff and your investment during this time.

Go Digital as the Next Step

Regardless of your industry, going digital can help you increase profits and reach a bigger audience. Start planning your brand’s online presence as soon as possible.

  • For product sales, convert your brick-and-mortar business into an online shop.
  • Stay updated with marketing trends and enact your own marketing campaign.
  • Use techniques like product retargeting (with low-cost email newsletter services) to get more sales.
  • If you need to press pause on your website, follow Google’s advice to preserve your site.

Have Staff Start Telecommuting

Get creative with your staff and think of ways to make telecommuting work. From the right equipment to tools for collaboration, get your remote work dialed in.

Think Ahead to Post-COVID Business

Eventually, your business will reopen, and then what? Think ahead to ensure your business thrives post-lockdown.

While small business ownership involves inherent risks, it also means the power is in your hands. Taking steps to prioritize your brand’s survival, moving more of the work online, and planning for post-COVID adjustments are all excellent ways to strategize during the lockdown. And when the lockdown is lifted, you’ll be prepared.

—Amy Collett, bizwell.org


A Trip to Slush Astoria


Eric and Olga, the owners of Slush Astoria, making slushees

Slush Astoria, the new pop-up for hand-crafted slushees that opened in mid-July and located where Kurry Qulture used to be (30th Ave between 36th and 37th St), is a refreshing addition to the Astoria outdoor dining scene. With plenty of outdoor seating options, Slush Astoria offers more than 30 slushees, all without artificial flavors, and the menu is divided by type of alcohol (vodka, whiskey/bourbon, rum/tequila, and liqueur) with both fruit-based and dessert-like options. There are a few non-alcoholic options as well, but Olga—one of the owners, along with her husband Eric—said that any of the slushees can be made without alcohol. Since each drink is made to order, changes and substitutions are not a problem, and are even encouraged to ensure you’ll enjoy what you’ve chosen. We tried Baileys Blizzard, Banana Split, Tropical Colada, and Coco Butter. Baileys Blizzard, made with ice cream, Irish cream syrup and peppermint snaps, was delicious. The Banana Split, with ice cream, banana, strawberry and dark creme de cacau, was very good with a strong ice cream flavor. Tropical Colada was a delicious upgrade to a Piña Colada, with the addition of banana and mango. The Coco Butter was a sweet treat made with Piña Colada, ice cream, and butterscotch schnapps. That one was so delicious and flavorful, someone in our group said they may go back just for that one. While we were there, the owner created a new slushee for us to sample and called it Neon Margarita, which was like a party in your mouth. Top sellers include Bahama Mama, Coco Butter, Raspberry Tea, and Lynchburg Lemonade. Due to the requirement that food be served with alcoholic beverages, Slush Astoria also serves tasty and flavorful beef empanadas with the slushees at no extra cost. Slush Astoria will be around until at least October, but it’s TBD after that, so be sure to get some slushees soon!

—Rachelle, Jamie and Jonah

Slush Astoria
36-05 30th Avenue
Astoria, New York 11103

Slush Astoria, a bar dedicated to custom-blended slushees, opens on 30th Ave


[From Slush Astoria]

Beat the heat by stopping by for a refreshingly great slushee at our new pop-up shop, Slush Astoria, located on Astoria’s famous 30th Avenue, between 36th and 37th St, in the space where Kurry Qulture used to be. Our collection of freshly handcrafted, delicious frozen slushees will make every brain freeze totally worth it! From frozen cocktails and dessert drinks to our barista fria and non-alcoholic fruit slushees, there’s a tasty retreat for everyone at Slush Astoria. Come by and grab a taste of summer!


Our slushees are custom-blended for each customer, we do not use frozen beverage dispensers

We feature both alcoholic and non-alcoholic slushees with over 30+ slushees on our menu with more added each week

Our cups are made of corn syrup and are biodegradable

This business is run by a young married couple, Eric and Olga

Olga was born and raised in Queens

BOAST’s Message About Facebook


We are joining other brands in suspending paid advertising on Facebook and its affiliate companies, including Instagram, for at least the month of July, and we will reassess after that. We feel that Facebook needs to do better in cracking down on hate speech and misinformation. Although this is a problem now, it goes much further back, including leading up to the 2016 presidential election. We hope to see improvements very soon.

We also think social media can be beneficial, so we will continue to publish unpaid content to these platforms during this time.

Statement from BOAST

We are devastated by the recent acts of violent racial injustice in our country. The BOAST: Best of Astoria organization grieves the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others who have lost their lives too soon. We are committed to being allies to those who endure racism directly. Now is the time to support one another and condemn violence, inequity and injustice, as well as combat systemic racism. We will continue utilizing our platform and resources in impactful ways, and we will continue fighting for justice.

If someone you know needs assistance, Astoria Mutual Aid Network provides food and resource distribution for communities of color, immigrant and working class folk. They also have volunteer opportunities.

If you would like to make a donation, here are some suggestions:

National Alliance on National Health is a group offering free therapy to the black community.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund supports racial justice through advocacy and litigation, and the ACLU provides legal services and support for a broad range of people with civil rights complaints.


Queens-bred KC Arora’s Debut Comedy Album is Out June 12

[From Shark Party Media]



Pre-order: https://music.apple.com/us/album/draw-4/1511605792

KC Arora is an Indian-American Queens-bred comic who was raised in a diverse neighborhood where everybody acted Italian. He’s been working for the last decade in clubs all around NYC. Draw 4, out June 12 on Blonde Medicine is KC Arora’s execution of the elusive triple entendre — motivated by Jay-Z’s lyric in the song “Light Up”; Often, an entertainer’s value is determined by their “draw,” the amount of people they can get to attend their show. In Arora’s career leading up to this album’s debut, he reports that he could easily say that he could draw… 4 people:

“Just look at my first attempt to record this album late last year — it was a complete failure. Fortunately, I got another shot and recorded at a club that was confident that I could bring the laughs, while they brought an audience.”

To represent the painstaking effort of putting together this record, the “4” on the cover was hand-drawn (that’s entendre number 2). The third entendre is the UNO reference. The Draw 4 is the most important card — it has the power to change the course of the game entirely.

“That is what this album is to me; an attempt to shift the course of the game I’m in.”

Over the course of the album, KC shares his philosophies on canon like dating, solving terrorism, and how to avoid jury duty. Special moments arise, though, when he splits the audience while making a case for why a certain chain restaurant is the best fast food in America, and telling a great story about the time he had his bike stolen.

Draw 4 will be released on June 12. It is available for pre-order here: https://music.apple.com/us/album/draw-4/1511605792

01. Draw 2 (Skit #1)
02. Intro
03. Italian + Indian = Guindian
04. Anti-Fertility God
05. Best Fast Food in America?
06. Skip (Skit #2)
07. Getting out of Jury Duty
08. Hitting on Women
09. Sex on a Full Stomach
10. Reverse (Skit #3)
11. Getting Old Together
12. Solving Terrorism
13. High at a Wedding
14. The NYC Bicycle Thief
15. Draw 4 (Skit #4)
16. Dirty Jokes 4 Blue (Bonus Track)


APAC Presents The Insiders: Musicals from the Quarantine


[From Astoria Performing Arts Center]

Astoria Performing Arts Center
in association with Teresa Lotz
The Insiders
Musicals from the Quarantine
Six original musicals responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Astoria Performing Arts Center (Dev Bondarin, Artistic Director), in association with Teresa Lotz, presents six new musical shorts written in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Featuring the work of fifteen writers, five directors, and sixteen actors, the contributing artists joined the project in the early days of the crisis in the spirit of developing new work without being in the same room to do so.

Quarantine. Crisis. Connection. Hope. There are many stories to tell right now and with The Insiders, these writers have created six in response to the current situation. From the expressionistic to the satirical, to the reality of family members trying to communicate, each film tells a story based in the here and now while we experience this unprecedented moment of pain in the world together.

The six short musicals will launch online starting May 22nd. Viewing will be free of charge, but there is a suggested donation of $10 which will benefit Astoria Performing Arts Center and Indie Theater Fund (www.indietheaterfund.org/donate). More info can be found at www.apacny.org.
The Insiders is written by Krista Knight, Derek Hassler & Ryan Kerr, Rachel Kunstadt, Briana Harris & Teresa Lotz, Charles Inniss & Christopher Inniss, Marcus Scott, Blake Allen & Marc Chan, Annette Storckman, Naomi Matlow & Andi Lee Carter, Claire Tran & Blake Allen. The Insiders is directed by Dev Bondarin, Emily Brown, Daniella Caggiano, Kristin Rose Kelly, Justin Schwartz. The Artistic Producer is Teresa Lotz and the cast includes Dana Aber, Bailey Carlson, Ariel Leigh Cohen, Leana Rae Concepcion, Kristina Dizon, Ellis Gage, Staci Jo Johnson, Bee Michael, Michael Orlandi, Jason Pintar, Erin Solér, William Spinnato, Sara States, Tais Szilagi, Jeff Williams, Ariel Seidman-Wright.

BOAST from Home

BOAST-from-Home_h_1500During this uncertain time, we’re spending a lot more time at home. We would normally be posting about all the cool places we’re going to, but since we can’t go out much, we’re starting a new segment called BOAST from Home. (Thank you Julia for the idea.) We will be doing some posts from our home, but we would also like to know what you’re up to. Are you cooking delicious food? Are you playing musical instruments or singing? Are you doing dramatic readings? Are you painting, drawing, or doing other arts and crafts? Are you doing projects on the computer, like making videos or animations? Either send us an email at hello@boast.nyc, send us a message through social, or tag us, and we may feature you on our website or social media channels. Please include your name, what it is you’re sharing, the photo(s) or video(s), and any other information about your submission. We wish you the best, and hope you are staying safe and healthy. —The BOAST Team

Coronavirus: things to keep in mind, prevention, how to get help, where to donate

Image from The CT Mirror

Image from The CT Mirror

At this point we hope everyone is taking this situation seriously. If you are not, just look at Italy (more than 53,000 cases and 4,800 deaths) and Spain (more than 25,000 cases and 1,300 deaths). The U.S. is on the rise. Here are some things to keep in mind.

– Stay home, unless you absolutely have to go out.

– If you do go out, including for walks, runs, and bike rides, try to keep a six-foot distance.

– When you come back inside, wash your hands with antibacterial soap for 20 seconds.

– Once a day, clean the high-touch areas in your home, including door knobs, light switches, refrigerator doors, faucets, and your phone. Use wipes or spray that say Kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.

– Here are the CDC Guidelines for prevention:

– Many places are still open for takeout and delivery, and here is a list of those places in Astoria. However, we do not recommend ordering takeout or delivery since that puts employees and delivery people in danger. Instead, we suggest looking to buy gift cards from those places.

– If you or someone you know has been negatively affected economically, here is A Hub for Help During the Coronavirus Crisis:

– Please only buy what you need. We might be in this for a while, and everyone needs things.

– Do not flush wipes or paper towels down the toilet.

– When buying from Amazon, go to smile.amazon.com, and select a charity to support.

– Here are some links of places to donate to:

Compilation of organizations from the Washington Post

Give Directly, putting cash in the hands of people directly affected by the virus

Bartender Emergency Assistance Program

Musicians Foundation

Entertainment Industry Foundation

The Actors Fund

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Feeding America

Meals on Wheels

Directory of Homeless Shelters

– Finally, a huge thank you to those people who are working and can’t work from home, including scientists, doctors, nurses, paramedics, first responders, supermarket workers, post office staff, truck drivers, delivery people, therapists, and social workers.

Stay safe, stay healthy,