Celebs shine for Slope youth-writing group

Celebs shine for Slope youth-writing group
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

These stars came out for a super cause.

Park Slope’s Super Hero Supply Company, the storefront home of the youth writing program 826NYC, celebrated its anniversary on Wednesday night at Manhattan’s Town Hall with a series of live interviews that paired journalists with big-name performers and artists, including actors John Oliver and Fred Armisen, musician Questlove, and filmmaker Ken Burns. The comedian, Sloper, and 826NYC board member Eugene Mirman co-hosted the event and opened up the evening’s chatter with a routine set in the neighborhood all the fuss was about.

“Whenever I go to the supermarket on Fifth Avenue with my girlfriend, I like to play a game where I try to think of something I can yell to her that makes people think that she is crazy,” Mirman said. “When I was by the shopping cart, and she was about 20 feet away from me, I yelled to her, ‘You know what? I am going to get toilet paper! I don’t think its a waste!’ ”

The Super Hero Supply Company, on Fifth Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets, sells novelty items such as “invisibility liquid” and particle guns — unabashed bits of false advertising — along with capes and disguises. 826NYC runs the store and puts the money toward a tutoring program and writing workshops for kids aged 6 to 18 from around the city.

The evening was equal parts comedy and serious conversation. The first interview was between journalist Jon Ronson and actor Chris O’Dowd. Over bottles of Brooklyn Brewery beer, the pair talked about drama school and O’Dowd’s upcoming role in a Broadway production of “Of Mice and Men.”

Then New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas quizzed Russian author Masha Gessen about her government’s oppression of gay people and about ongoing unrest in Ukraine.

Things got lighter after that, with a performance from musician Robyn Hitchcock, followed by a chat between former “Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver and Questlove, the band leader of The Roots and Brooklyn Bowl DJ fixture. The duo dwelled on the root canal Questlove underwent that morning and how he tried to cram a Pink Floyd album listening session into his nitrous oxide experience.

“You are even funnier in a sort of gas induced fever,” quipped Oliver as their bit ended.

The executive director of 826NC, Joshua Mandelbaum, said he hopes to celebrate next year’s anniversary closer to home.

“I’d love to have an event like this in Brooklyn,” he said.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.