It all started when Jared Nangle and Shelbi Evans, former coworkers, realized they had a particular friend in common. Evans, a comedian, began to describe her ex-boyfriend (likely in great detail because…who wouldn’t?) to Nangle, a cartoonist, who proceeded to draw the mystery man on a napkin with a slice of pizza on his head. After they both saw the image Nangle generated, it turns out Evans’ ex-boyfriend was one of his closest friends.
“Sketches of My Exes,” the duo’s monthly sketch comedy show at The Starliner, takes this format and magnifies it for a larger crowd on the first Wednesday of every month. Evans and Nangle bring together a group of comedians, who perform stand-up while their cartoonist counterparts live-draw jokes. The show this Wednesday, June 5, is the second installment ever, and will feature comedians Kate Willet, Wanjiko Eke, Clark Jones, Wendy Steiner, and Kendall Farrell, along with special guest cartoonists Sofia Warren and Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell.
“I chose to host a show in Bushwick because I wanted to be a part of the neighborhood I live in,” said Evans. “We bring in people who are into comedy and cartoons…we want it to just feel like we’re hanging out.” Bushwick is home to a whole host of comedy nights, so “Sketches of My Exes” is in good company…particularly at The Starliner. Evans also hosts an open mic comedy night every first and third Wednesday of the month at the Myrtle Avenue bar.
Naturally, for this second installment of the show, Evans booked the comedians and Nangle booked the cartoonists; at last month’s debut, both artists took the stage to inaugurate their brainchild.
“It’s a really fun challenge to draw that quickly but also be thinking of a joke,” Nangle said of this first-time experience. “The cartoons offer different punchlines than the comedians do. It’s like a one, two punch.”
And for Evans, who did not interpret jokes but provided them for Nangle’s drawings instead, having her stand-up turned into sketches caused her “to think a little more about how descriptive or non-descriptive I am,” she said. “It’s helpful for me to think about painting a picture for the audience.”
With the audience in mind yet again, Evans prioritizes booking a diverse set of comics with distinct comedy styles, so that everyone can find something to relate to depending on the type of comedy they’re into. “I’m just [booking] the people I think are funny and like and have met through doing stand-up. It’s not that hard to find [talent] in New York.”
While the comedians take their place behind the microphone, the improvisational hand movements of the sketch artists emerge as shadows on the bar’s old-school projection screen.
“We don’t really give the cartoonists any direction—it’s live cartooning so it’s whatever they want,” says Nangle. For this week’s show, he tapped Warren and Campbell to accompany the comedian’s sets because (as a relatively green cartoonist himself) he admires the careers of the two New Yorker-published artists.
“Sketches of My Exes” provides both comic relief and insight into the oft-obscured comic creation process…and it’s all for free, though donations are encouraged. While both art forms have their own unique histories, the marriage of comics—and comics!—is a ripe union for today’s audiences.
After all, says Nangle: “I think comic art is having a resurgence, especially through social media.” Thanks to Nangle and co-creator Evans, this particular brand of sketch comedy is having a resurgence in Bushwick too.
You can join the next show, Wednesday, June 5, at 8:30 p.m., at The Starliner Bar located at 1446 Myrtle Ave.
All images courtesy of Sketches of My Exes.
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