Monday, May 11, 2015

Applause! Applause! Review of Solas Laughs at Solas by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Solas Laughs at Solas was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Solas Laughs
Host: Ben Rosenfeld
Producer: Michelle Slonim
Comics: Eddie Brill, Jessica Brodkin, YouJean Chang, 
Danny Palmer, Tori Pishkin, Ben Rosenfeld, Michelle Slonim
Solas (232 East 9th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 5/9/15 at 7:30 p.m.

There is no better place to start off your Friday, Saturday or Sunday night with friends than Solas Laughs, which offers free admission and professional comics in an intimate, cozy space on the second floor of Solas, an extremely popular East Village bar. You can buy drink specials before the show each night. I had two Sangria's for only $4.00 a drink. You can also win free drinks and prizes through a raffle and are given an opportunity to voluntarily donate a few bucks if you enjoyed the show. If you are planning a "night on the town," I highly recommend you start off your evening in Manhattan with Solas Laughs. Even if you are just planning to have dinner with your mates, I suggest you go to Solas first, buy a couple of reasonably priced drinks and have a few laughs before heading out to the many fine restaurants and clubs in the neighborhood. Up-to-date information on Solas Laughs can be found on its Facebook Page at 

Rating the performing comics in this particular show by the quality of their material and how well they connected with the audience, I would have to give first prize to Ben Rosenfeld and second prize to YouJean Chang. The remaining comics in order would be Eddie Brill, Jessica Brodkin, Michelle Slonim, Danny Palmer & Tori Pishkin. 

Ben Rosenfeld is a fresh, up-and-coming comic with some great material, much of which centers around his ethnic and religious heritage of being a Russian Jew. Ben speaks about how Russia has found a way to deny it has any gay people. Now it only has "men who make bad choices." For example, gay sex is being treated as criminal "breaking and entering" and as "trespassing" as opposed to any form of sodomy. He also spoke about his Russian father, who when called to school and told his son "can't hit people", offered to train him to be a better fighter. Ben says he played football but it was problematic since he "couldn't touch the pigskin." On the positive side, he did "bat down the other team's Hail Marys" because he "didn't believe in them." Ben also said he graduated Rutgers with degrees in economics and philosophy. Basically, he "knows how to make money, but just doesn't see the point in it." Going on, he said a buddy of his was all proud to have moved into a Pre-War building. Ben said, I just don't see why he is all excited about that, "if you're properly pessimistic, all buildings are pre-war buildings!" Ben Rosenfeld has appeared on FOX's Laughs, CBS This Morning and Rooftop Comedy. He created the illustrated coffee table book, Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up. For more information about Ben, visit his blog at:

YouJean Chang has some interesting observations about modern culture and social media. As he points out, in the dating arena, there are websites for every ethnic group and fetish but you can't be that specific when offering or seeking employment. As he explained, "" is not going to fly. YouJean says he met his current girlfriend on Linkedin and that "she fell in love with him as soon as she read (his) resume." He says he is in the opposite position to today's economy. He is "Chinese and owes a lot of money to American banks." Another example of his humor is when he reported that a woman once told him she would prefer a book as a gift instead of a bottle of liquor. YouJean complained that "a book isn't going to make a girl make a bad decision for the night." No woman has ever told her girlfriend, "Oh, I really fucked up last night. I read far too many books and ended up sucking that guy's dick in the bathroom." You can stay in touch with YouJean Chang on Facebook at: or on Twitter at @YouJeanChang.

Eddie Brill is an accomplished, talented, affable, charismatic man who is able to win his audience over without even having to try. In this show, he told a story about how he beat up a kid who said something about his mother when he was a 9 year-old growing up in Brooklyn. He also mentioned something about not having many clean clothes and how he always celebrated Mother's Day with his mom a day early. The material was not particularly humorous, but Eddie Brill is a very funny man who puts you at ease and in the mood to have a good time. That explains why for the past sixteen years, he has worked on The Late Show with David Letterman, currently as the audience warm-up and for eleven years prior as the Stand Up Comedy Talent Coordinator. Eddie Brill is a 3-time MAC award winner for Outstanding Male Comic in New York City.  

Jessica Brodkin is a high-energy, personable comic who takes her audience by storm. She lived in New York but moved to Virgina for a number of years before returning. She gets frustrated when her friends who stayed here tell her New York City is "the greatest city in the world." She feels like asking them, "Have you been to other cities?" While in Virginia, she observed Civil War reenactors and wondered why you would want to reenact a war in which you were a loser. Along those lines, she is thinking of reenacting High School in which she might say, "This time, I will use Proactive!" Jessica says she "has been married for just a year," so she "still loves her husband, who is black." She says she gets grief at Thanksgiving when whoever carves the turkey asks, "who wants dark meat?" and everyone at the table points to her and says "she does!" Jessica is a stand-up comedian, actress and voice over artist who has appeared on HBOs VEEP, PBS's The Truth About Money, National Geographic's Brain Games, Investigation Discovery and CNN's Congressional Correspondents Dinner. She began her comedy career in the Washington D.C. area where she was a regular at DC Improv, the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse, and Magooby's Joke House. For more information about Jessica Brodkin, visit her website at:

Michelle Slonim works tirelessly behind the scenes to produce comedy shows five nights a week in New York City. She has produced web-shows for Comedy Central, HBO and SiriusXM Radio. She is a member of the Friars Club. In this show, she reported her mom has always said, "age is just a number, but mine is unlisted." Michelle says she got fired as a teacher for having her kids act out a mani-pedi but she knows now she went too far when she had them give her a Brazilian." (Note to Michelle - Gun Hill Road is in the Bronx, not in Brooklyn. If there is one in Brooklyn, people don't identify with it being there) For more information on Michelle, visit her website at:

Danny Palmer portrays himself on stage as a 39-year old, "single, horny duck" who has so far bucked "the natural order of things" by not getting married and having a family and thinks it's "cool" he got "thrown out of his apartment due to noise complaints." His image is that of a frat boy who asks the audience if it's O.K. that he "only hits on the girls." That, of course, left out all the boys in the room. Even his blog announces, "This is just geared towards hot girls. If you are not a hot girl, go find a hot girl to read this over your shoulder." Perhaps Danny needs to better separate his professional career as a comic from his sexual appetite as an Alpha Male predator. Calvin Klein Recruiter by day, Danny Palmer transforms into a stand-up comic at night. Tori Pishkin was the final comic to perform. She did a very funny bit about how an inner-city hood's body movements could sometimes look like he is "robbing things off the shelves of a deli." Both Danny and Tori have a good look and a winning stage presence but they both need better material and a bit more experience if they are going to make it in this business.

Solas Laughs continues to rotate the list of comics who are going to perform on any particular evening so drop in and have some fun! 

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