Maybe it was the pull of a stellar comic lineup; maybe it was the appeal of something free. Either way, the triple-digit thermometer reading did nothing to deter the thousands who turned out during a NYC heat wave for this year’s Indecision in the Park, Comedy Central’s free live stand-up show at Central Park’s SummerStage.
“This is insanity,” co-executive producer for The Daily Show Adam Lowitt said, motioning to the mass of people packed around the stage – some sprawled out on blankets, others finding seats on the rocks beyond the grass to catch the show. “We work at The [Daily] Show in this small studio with about 100 of us on staff – and you hear people like the show, but this is… a lot.”
Lowitt was being modest for sure – understating The Daily Show’s reach and multitude of Emmy and Peabody Award wins, among others. But even for a show with its following and laundry list of accolades, the turnout was impressive and a testament to the strong community formed around Comedy Central and The Daily Show.
Hosted by John Hodgman, Indecision in the Park featured performances by fellow Daily Show-ers Wyatt Cenac, Al Madrigal, John Oliver, Kristen Schaal, as well as Lowitt and executive producer Rory Albanese.
Surprise guest Lewis Black was one of the many highlights – but when Kristen Schaal took the stage and “Flashdance…What A Feeling” reverberated through the Park a few minutes later, you knew she was about to steal the show.
Schaal put on an impeccable re-enactment of Flashdance’s signature water-drenched audition scene, accompanied by Hodgman, who was on hand with a bucket of water to douse Schaal. (Departing from the Flashdance script, Schaal reciprocated, dousing Hodgman.)
Comedy Central puts on the free show every year, but dubs it Indecision in the Park in an election year, after “Indecision,” the network’s award-winning brand of political coverage. Though the evening’s acts weren’t too politically charged, we did get serious with comedian/actor/writer Wyatt Cenac for a few minutes to hear about the intersection of politics and comedy in his work and on The Daily Show.
“Our focus is telling a joke,” Cenac said. “With our show, we still want truth – to quote an old improv thing – there’s truth in comedy. But our master is the joke and that’s who we report to first – before the politics. So it’s, tell funny jokes, because the moment we start trying to push the discussion one way or another, then we’re kind of on a soapbox. I think that’s the difference: the failed political comedian is the person you see on a soapbox shaking his fist and railing at things. And there’s hopefully an artfulness to what we and other great political comedians do — Pat Paulsen, Mark Twain, Chris Rock – there’s a skill, where it’s funny first.”
Mitch Fried, Comedy Central EVP of Enterprises, called the show both a natural marketing tool and our way of thanking the city in Variety’s preview of the event.
Comedy Central has no plans to air the show, so our best advice is to look out for the next live show – and get there early.