Recommendations from the comics who grub in places week in and week out
Going out for a fun night on the town is a big deal. Anytime you have to leave the house is a big deal. Making plans, finding people to go out with, coordinating schedules, travel, parking, and sitters (if you’re the unfortunate type to have kids, or that weirdo pet parent who doesn’t leave their doggo alone).
If one single thing goes wrong, it runs the risk of ruining the fun night out. And for some, the food’s the most important part. For others, it’s all about just going to a new restaurant. I’m more of the dinner and a show type of guy myself; I want to see a good show and eat a solid meal (unless I am the show, in which case I’m probably shoving down some form of cheap comfort food to make me feel happy before going on stage).
Even for comedians, what we eat is important. Some comedy clubs include a meal in addition to cash payment (some shows pay only in food). Oftentimes, there are restrictions for performers—like only this side of the menu, or they just send deep fried everything your way. Which may leave a comic feeling bloated or sluggish.
I asked a bunch of local comedians who are putting on their own shows in Boston what food they eat when they are out, and what they recommend. The fun of this, at least in part, was watching people skilled in the art of telling dick jokes talk about grub like pretentious Food Network judges.
Everyone hates Mondays. Even after work there’s the traditional task of making drink plans with someone rando from a dating app. Fortunately, Cityside Comedy in Cleveland Circle makes the start of the week a little less bad. This show is becoming one of the best mainstays in the local comedy scene, as well as for rising, soon-to-be-star headliners from across the country (past performers include Jeff Ross, Tim Dillon, Emma Williams, and more).
Everything on Cityside’s menu is excellently done; in fact, its Buffalo chicken dips are the best I’ve ever had. However, producer and co-showrunner Sam Ike tells visiting comedians about a different dish. “We typically recommend the salmon to our headliners. It’s light and citrusy and served with jasmine rice and asparagus that complement it excellently.”
Much like seafood, going to an open mic can be a little tricky. You never know what you’re going to get. It can be something brilliant and original, or something gross. Just like with the performers. Wednesdays at Tavern at the End of the World is one of the longest-running Greater Boston open mics. Here you’ll get every type of comic in a single night, from nervous, sweaty newbs doing their first sets to drop-ins by heritage performers like Jimmy Tingle (who recently was on an episode of HBO’s Veep, by the way). And when it comes to the food at Tavern, Phoebe Angle, the host and queen of eye-rolling misogynistic jokes, goes for the fish and chips. “It’s an Irish place, you gotta!” she says. She also notes that Tavern has plenty of vegan options, like the veggie curry.
This next one is the last seafood item I’m going to mention, promise. On Thursdays, the guys from Comedy Party take over the downstairs dining room of Osaka in Brookline for a comedy experience that rivals most produced shows in the city and beyond. Each week Alex Giampapa, Ben Quick, and Dennis Casey curate a specifically detailed show—from the performers to music to even the lighting. So it is no wonder the dish they would recommend is one of the most expert-necessary dishes to put together, sushi. The Love Boat entree is a 32-piece mini-mountain of food with 12 assorted pieces of sushi and 18 sashimi slices, a California roll, a tuna roll, and miso soup. Bring a friend.
Now for something totally different. Well, there’s nothing different about pizza, but the comedy debate show produced by Unscene Comedy every Friday at Maggy’s Lounge certainly is. Pick a Side Stupid is a live improvised comedy debate show and podcast taping, where comedians are pitted against one another to defend a stance they just found out they’re on. Host Shawn Carter (who is well aware he has the same name as Jay Z, so stop emailing him thinking you’re reaching the Jiggaman), a group of comedians, and regular audience members submit topics and questions for each show. The battles can get heated, much like the Blazing Buffalo Pizza, which comes topped with hot sauce, jalapeno, and blue cheese crumbles. “All week I look forward to Friday, mostly for this pizza,” Carter says.
Of course, some people prefer multiple small dishes. For that crowd, I recommend the White Bull Tavern in Faneuil Hall, where Hideout Comedy pops up on Fridays and Saturdays. Their wings are perfectly crispy thanks to being fried in duck fat. Poultry fried in the fat of more poultry. What a fowl inception. Pure madness to go with so much hilarity.