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Buckwheat Groats: A Viral Sensation With a Leg in the East Village

Screen shot 2012-07-23 at 10.23.24 AM Clip from “Million Dollar Menu”

The latest hip-hop act to bust out of the East Village didn’t come out of the Bowery Poetry Club, the Pyramid, or any of those other hallowed spots. Buckwheat Groats emerged from… McDonald’s?

The comedic rap duo’s “Million Dollar Menu” is a tribute to the decadent rap videos of the early 2000s: members Lil’ Dinky (a.k.a. “Def Janiels”) and Penis Bailey, who asked that their real names not be printed as a condition of an interview (they’re shy, see), traded the imagery of the mansions and yachts of yesteryear for something significantly more accessible to most viewers.

Shooting at McDonald’s locations all over the city, the two found some of the best footage emerging from the fast-food chain’s East Village locations. The outlandish, not-safe-for-work video kicks off with the duo striding into the McDonald’s on 14th Street.

“The East Village held it down for the Groats, and we appreciate that,” said Bailey. Read more…

Comedy Gold on Avenue A

The Times shines a light on “Sweet,” the stand-up comedy showcase that started at the Slipper Room in 2004 and moved to Ella on Avenue A last year (the seventh season kicks off this week). The host, “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” warm-up Seth Herzog, has lured big-name comics like Jim Gaffigan and Zach Galifianakis – many of them when they were on the cusp of fame.

Rachel Dratch’s East Village

Rachel DratchMary Ellen Matthews

She may be known for the lovably oddball characters she’s brought to life on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock”, but in the East Village, actress Rachel Dratch has another mark of distinction. She’s a local.

As new mom to an infant, Ms. Dratch has been more of a homebody than usual of late, especially now that she is penning a collection of autobiographical (and, we trust, laugh-out-loud funny) stories on life after “S.N.L.”. Still, we found her to be an enthusiastic consumer of the local hangs, and with nine years as a resident of the East Village, she’s sampled more than a few of the best. Lucky for us, she was not at all timid about sharing her favorite spots.

Best Breakfast

“I like the pierogis at Veselka, and I like that it’s open 24 hours. Now that I have a baby, I don’t usually take advantage of the 24-hour thing like I used to, but I just like living in New York and knowing everything is open 24 hours.”
Read more…

Jumping Improv Under St Mark’s

Jump on 3 OnstageMJ Gonzalez Members of Jump on 3 mid-show on Friday Feb. 4 at Under St. Mark’s. (From left) Matt Dennie, Scot Holmes, Matt Starr, Maelle Doliveux, J.D. Amato, Phil Jackson.

What happens when you put a South African Wine importer, an advertising agent, an illustration student, a couple aspiring writers, and a government employee in a room, and yell the word “zipper” at them?

I don’t know. And they don’t know. We’ll have to all find out together. “That’s the beauty of improv,” says Matt Starr, 23, one of the seven members of the comedy improv group, Jump On Three. “Not only is the audience trying to figure everything out, but the improvisers are right there with you. You’re seeing everything unfold right before your eyes.”

Jump on 3 was created in March 2010, when a group of improvisers met at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in Chelsea. After searching the city for a performance spot, they finally found what struck them as an ideal space at Under St. Mark’s, an underground theater at 94 St. Marks Place.

“At the time, there was kind of an indie team explosion,” says Jump on Three member Phil Jackson, 27. After seeing another independent group, Rogue Elephant, perform at Under St. Mark’s in October 2009. When he found out that Rogue Elephant would no longer be playing at that venue, Mr. Jackson jumped at the chance to snag the space. “It was the perfect storm of circumstances and opportunity,” he said.

Now, Mr. Jackson and his fellow improv members perform regularly at Under St. Mark’s, hosting a show on the first Friday of every month, performing with other groups that ask to play at the venue. “We used to have to beg other groups to perform with us when we were first starting out,” Jump on 3 member Scott Holmes said. “But now they’re begging us.” Read more…