Checking In With The BAM

This Saturday, Bushwick Ayuda Mutua is calling all those who love to laugh. The mutual aid group will be hosting a comedy show at Knickerbocker Underground, which calls itself the neighborhood’s “first and only underground comedy club and arts space.” The show is set to feature a lineup of fourteen comics,  priced at five dollars and additional donations are encouraged. 

“It’s cool because nobody comes to BAM with bad intentions,” says Jose Bedoy, a comedian who volunteers with BAM and who put together Saturday’s show. Formed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group continues to distribute donated clothing and furniture, and connects people with social, legal and medical services. Like most small mutual aid groups, BAM doesn’t receive government funding and relies solely on volunteers and donations. Their promotions and meetings serve both English and Spanish speakers. They don’t discriminate based on immigration status; the arrival of migrants to Bushwick is simply the arrival of new neighbors, the group says. 

 “It’s a great feeling to have people in your community who know you, who know the goodness in you and who you can say hello to on the street,” Bedoy tells me.

The group lets anyone involved propose and organize programs and services, which is where the idea to fundraise using a comedy show came to be. Bedoy says he thought of the idea for the show in the hope to connect more people to the group from the local comedy scene. He’s been involved in BAM since moving to Bushwick and says that he relates to the group because his own family was priced out of their neighborhood in LA, a journey that led him to Texas, before moving here. 

Another of the comics involved in Saturday’s show is Renée Nicolas, who lives in Sunnyside. She’s been doing comedy for about three years now and now hosts a biweekly open mic at Sanger Hall in Sunnyside. Her comedy is infused with a sarcasm fostered by her Haitian and Bostonian upbringing, as well as her life experiences as a black queer person.

“Growing up as a first generation kid, and not really being understood by people I grew up with, comedy was a way to communicate without having the same life experiences,” Nicolas tells me. 

Nicolas says she learned how  humor transcends language by watching sitcoms like “Martin” and “All in the Family” in a multilingual household. As she says, farts are funny in all languages; everybody wants to laugh with the person next to them. But it’s deeper than that. Comedy is also a “way to speak truth and also bring levity to a situation,” said Nicolas.

“The best part of a good set is when someone — even if it’s just one person — authentically laughs at something you’ve been trying to connect for yourself,” said Nicolas, “It’s this amazing feeling.”

The show is happening May 25 at 9pm at “Knickerbocker Underground” at 329 Knickerbocker Avenue. Tickets are $5, get them here. To volunteer with Bushwick Ayuda Mutua, visit their website or connect with them via Instagram.

Top photo taken by Molly B. Healy for Bushwick Daily.

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