Side Pony tale! Comedy show celebrates five years of laughs

Side hustle: Julia Shiplet, Ben Wasserman, Emily Winter, and Carolyn Busa will celebrate the fifth anniversary of their comedy show Side Ponytail at Friends and Lovers on April 17.
Side Ponytail

Come and see the funny Side!

The Brooklyn stand-up comedy show “Side Ponytail” will celebrate its fifth anniversary on April 17 with balloons, matching outfits, and a surprise guest! The show, named after the iconic ’80s hairstyle that appeared on many of its early advertisements, has gone through several iterations over the years, and now takes place every Wednesday night, and on the last Saturday of each month, at Friends and Lovers bar in Crown Heights. The show has welcomed plenty of big names over the years, including National Public Radio’s Ophira Eisenberg and Judah Friedlander from “30 Rock,” and has always showcased a relaxed, easy chemistry between its hosts.

We chatted with each of the show’s four producers — founder Carolyn Busa, Ben Wasserman, Emily Winter, and Julia Shiplett — about the show’s longevity and evolution over the years.

Five years is a long time for a comedy show. How have you lasted so long?

Emily Winter: First, Carolyn Busa is an amazing woman. She started this show, and the rest of us are lucky to have been added as her co-producers.

Ben Wasserman: A lot of it is just putting in the hard work, with hustle and grit, of producing, curating, and promoting a show.

EW: We’re all such hard workers and so passionate about comedy, and I think we bring an energy to our show that feels authentic and fresh.

How has the show changed over the years?

Carolyn Busa: We moved bars, to Friends and Lovers, in January of 2017. We’ve gone from a monthly show to a weekly show. We used to be on Mondays until we switched to Wednesdays in December of 2018.

BW: One thing that I’ve noticed since we went weekly is a more communal vibe. We’ve been able to establish it as a fun hang with a sense of community.

EW: We’re also better comedians ourselves! As our friendship has grown and deepened, so has our comedy, and I think the result is something really special.”

What is your favorite part of the show?

BW: My favorite part is killing it every night, and getting a laugh, and getting applause, and showering in adulation. It feels good.

Julia Shiplett: Having a home base to call ours is really special. Getting to regularly do comedy with people you admire in a space you’re comfortable is a real treat in this city.

EW: One of my favorite parts is putting up someone who is so unique and funny but may not have the TV credits that our other performers have. Watching them succeed and surprise an audience is incredibly rewarding and exciting.

How does the show compare to others in the city?

BW: Well, we’re the best.

CB: People tell us it’s a fun experience. Other places can feel very tense and nervous, where the comic is tense because they don’t want to bomb, and the audience is tense because they’ve never heard of this person. We’ve made something where people are able to relax and have fun.

EW: We really do a good job of keeping our show 90 minutes or less. So many shows are way too long, and it bums out the performers and audience. We don’t do that at Side Pony.

How would you describe the crowd?

BW: We try and showcase a diverse lineup of comedians with different voices and experience, and the audience is reflective of that. It’s everything from tech bros to Park Slope moms.”

JS: We have returning audience members, but also new people all the time. Sometimes they are a little timid, sometimes they are hot from the start. But, like your own children, we love them all. Okay, some more than others.

Have there been any particularly outlandish sets? Or anyone you regret inviting?

BW: Anytime I’m on stage, it’s outlandish.

EW: Everything Ben Wasserman does is outlandish.

CB: The only time we regret inviting someone is when you didn’t know them and it turns out they’re really rude.

EW: One time, I did Side Ponytail after a bar crawl and pulled out my butt on stage. I think it was funny, but I don’t really remember it. Long story short, I probably shouldn’t have invited myself to perform that night.

Side Ponytail’s Fifth Anniversary at Friends and Lovers [641 Classon Ave. between Pacific and Dean streets in Crown Heights, (917) 979–3060, www.fnlbk.com]. April 17 at 8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577.

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