Five comedians, an author, and a member of Devo walk into a bar…
A group of joke-makers and Devo superfans will gather at Littlefield in Gowanus on May 28 to pay tribute to the 35th anniversary the band’s classic album “Freedom of Choice.” The event, which will feature a cameo by band-member Gerald V. Casale, will double as a launch party for a new book about the album, and the author said she hopes the night will help shine a spotlight on how important and influential the record really is.
“Devo is so, so much more than the ’80s one-hit wonder that some of the general public think they are — incredible musicians, politically subversive, hugely influential to two generations of musicians and comedians,” said Evie Nagy, a life-long Devo fan and author of “Devo’s Freedom of Choice (33 1/3).” “This album had the best story and was their most fun and productive period.”
Nagy said she learned about the influence Devo has had in the comedy world from “Saturday Night Live” star Fred Armisen, who wrote the book’s foreward. Armisen told her he had spent his entire career trying to master the “comedy that isn’t comedy” embodied by the men famous for wearing red plastic “energy domes” on their heads.
“When I was thinking about what to do to celebrate the book release, I realized I wanted to do something more interesting or unexpected than just a reading or tribute concert, and the idea of a comedy show just kind of popped into my brain,” said Nagy.
Devo showed would-be comics that being weird can be cool, according to one of the jokesters, who said she will use her set to explain impact the band had on her from an early age.
“I remember seeing the ‘Whip It’ video as a kid and realizing, ‘Holy s---, these guys are very weird and they’re making a career of it,’” said comedian Sara Benincasa, a Clinton Hill expat who now lives in Los Angeles. “I want to talk about how Devo’s general wackiness and individuality made me realize that one can be excellent and funny and smart and strange and not fit in, and that’s okay — in fact, it’s great.”
Comedians Joe Garden, Liam McEneaney, and Dave Hill will also perform on the night, which comedy writer Jake Fogelnest will host.
Hill, who hails from Ohio like the original Devo members, said he still isn’t sure how he will honor the band — but he promises it will be amazing.
“I’m still sorting it out, but I’m pretty sure everyone is gonna end up pregnant,” said comedian and musician Dave Hill, who grew up in Cleveland. “I’m from northeastern Ohio like them, which gives me an edge over the competition as this s--- is in my blood.”
A Comedy Tribute to Devo at Littlefield [622 Degraw St. between Fourth and Third Avenues in Gowanus, (718) 855–3388, www.littl