New York City sets the stage for the human comedy. Just ask Woody Allen, Neil Simon, David Letterman. . . . There is something about the city that is a feather on everyone''s funny bone. Why? Perhaps because all of our own foibles can be found there, and they become comedy in the light of common experience.
An evening of laughter begins at Ellen¹s Stardust Diner. Upon entering through a red subway car, you can choose from specials like the ³Edsel²‹a grilled marinated chicken breast sandwich; "Pee Wee¹s Clubhouse"‹a turkey club; "Olive Oyl''s Veggiewich"‹grilled vegetables on foccacia; or a complete menu of pastas, grilled favorites, salads, Mexican and ³the city¹s best meatloaf.² With singing waitpersons, live doo-wop singers and a drive-in movie screen playing real videos, Ellen¹s Stardust Diner celebrates the humorous side of nostalgia. At 1650 Broadway at 51st Street; (212) 956-5151.
Think fast. Think funny. That¹s the drill at Chicago City Limits¹ new show "What You Said." The cast improvises scenes and songs on the spot, based upon current events (don"t worry, they barely touch on O.J.!), political issues and suggestions called out by audience members. Faster than you can say "lederhosen," an entire musical revue pays homage to those über-undergarments. Each actor strives to outdo the other with verbal acrobatics, culminating in "Torture the Actor," where one cast member struggles to guess the phrase du jour, through a series of riotous charades. At 1105 First Avenue btw. 61st & 62nd; (212) 888-LAFF.
Only in New York would you find attending a funeral as a suggestion for an evening of comedy. Actually, "Grandma Sylvia¹s Funeral" hails from Los Angeles, where dear Sylvia has been sent to the ever-after for 21 months. In New York, the Soho Playhouse becomes the Helsenrott mortuary, where your hosts are the textbook cases that make up the Grossman family of mourners. They¹ll talk to you, sit with you, try to bum painkillers and even share a "Mitzva Meal" with you. You, in turn, will laugh, sing and even learn some Yiddish as you smear a little cream cheese on your bagel. You¹ll laugh so hard, you¹ll be all "verklempt!" At the Soho Playhouse, (212) 691-1555.
-- By Jennifer Lanter