Empire Biscuit in the East Village is about to become Manhattan’s premier destination…for comedy. For three nights during the first week of August, the small food joint will turn into an improbable performance venue, featuring more than 50 of the city’s top comics. As comedian Brandon Scott Wolf, a freelance contributor to SNL’s Weekend Update and one the festival’s co-producers, puts it, “You may be able to see these headliners individually in clubs across the city and throughout the US, but this is the only time you’ll be able to see all of them in the same biscuit shop.”
Acts for the first-ever Empire Biscuit Comedy Festival include SNL performer Sasheer Zamata, Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj and Last Week Tonight writer Josh Gondelman, among others. There will be a total of three shows every night, starting at 7 PM, 9 PM and 11 PM, each of which will include at least four different comics. The festival runs between Sunday, August 2nd and Tuesday, August 4th. Tickets run between $14 (online) and $16 (at the door, cash only), and a full festival pass can be purchased for $50. Ticketholders will receive a free premium biscuit and beverage at the show.
That’s a lot of star-power for a show that fewer than 30 people will be able to watch at a time, but that’s part of the appeal. “The venue itself is ridiculously small, which was actually part of the allure for us to put on such a gigantic production for literally a handful of people per night,” Wolf explained to ANIMAL. “The restaurant will be closed for a ‘private event’ during the shows and not open to customers, but we anticipate packing out the place anyways.”
“Part of the reason why we think it’s such a great idea to produce a huge comedy festival like this inside of a biscuit shop is because no one would believe you if you walked inside Empire Biscuit and said ‘I’m producing a comedy festival in this biscuit shop,’ they would probably be like ‘No you’re not. There’s absolutely no way,’ he continued. “And I would be like, ‘Yeah I am. There’s the poster with our full line up on the wall right there.’ And then I would order a fried chicken with ranch biscuit sandwich because it’s incredible there.”
The bizarre idea was born a few months ago when he and comedian Andrew Tavin were on a bus to perform at a comedy festival in Ithaca, New York. “He mentioned that he was friendly with the owner of Empire Biscuit and I immediately was like ‘We should host our own comedy festival at Empire Biscuit,'”said Wolf. “We both loved the idea and he asked his longtime friend, a genius comedy producer, Tovah Silbermann if she wanted to help and once she said ‘Yes,’ the three of us have done nothing, but eat, sleep, and breathe biscuits.”
If you miss this year’s Empire Biscuit Comedy Festival, there’s a chance you may get to go next year. “Honestly, in my opinion, as long as people show up to eat and laugh I don’t see why the Empire Biscuit Comedy Festival can’t become an annual New York staple,” said Wolf.
(Photo: Mack Male)