It’s a new year and a new burst of activities in New York. From stand-up comedy to a performance festival, and from a rocking Shakespeare-inspired musical to joining in on a pantless subway ride, there’s something for every resolution. And if one of yours is to get out of the city more often, then head to Bennington, VT at the weekend for a cozy and artsy retreat.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.
January 7 | Stand-up comedy
Jermaine Fowler: Give 'Em Hell Tour
Following on the heels of a successful Showtime special, comedian Jermaine Fowler is kicking off his national Give ‘Em Hell tour in Brooklyn. The comic was born outside D.C. to teenage parents and raised largely by his grandma, and his routine draws heavily on his life. Some of the material will likely be familiar if you’ve seen the special, but Fowler has plenty of comedic fodder to keep each performance fresh. There is also a sitcom about his life slated to air on CBS, so this is a chance to see him perform in an intimate setting before he officially blows up.
8 p.m. | Union Hall, 702 Union St., Brooklyn | $8 | website
January 7–18 | Performing arts festival
This two-week, multi-stage performance festival kicks off its seventh year this week. Held mainly at the Abrons Arts Center, but with a few performances at MoMA PS1 and Gibney Dance Center, American Realness showcases dance, theater, musical theater, and cutting-edge performing arts hybrids from a variety of individuals and troupes. There will be two world premieres, six U.S. premieres, three New York premieres, and six encore engagements. Also don’t miss the parties: Dowload is presented by The Culture Whore at a secret Brooklyn Warehouse, and the Closing Night Soiree will be at Beverly’s.
Times vary | Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St., New York | $20 single ticket or $100 festival pass | website
January 9–10 | Escape the city
More than just a college town, Bennington, VT (right on the border of Massachusetts) is a fun, quaint, and artsy place to get away from the big city. Check out such quintessentially local attractions as the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum, the Dollhouse and Toy Museum of Vermont, Bennington Potters, and the Bennington Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Grandma Moses art and memorabilia. The Shops at Camelot Village include antique and vintage stores housed in an eighteenth-century barn. Climb 306 feet to the top of the Bennington Battle Monument for spectacular views of the surrounding area. Beer lovers should check out Northshire Brewery and Madison Brewing Company; the latter is also a full-service pub and restaurant. The Four Chimneys Inn is a lovely place to stay; try to snag a cozy room with a fireplace. Finally, a visit to Bennington isn’t complete without breakfast at the 1940’s Blue Benn Diner; on weekends there is usually a wait, but it’s well worth it.
January 10 | Musical
Last chance to see These Paper Bullets!
If you haven’t seen These Paper Bullets!, Billie Joe Armstrong’s rocking musical with the Atlantic Theater Company, time is running out. Fans of the band Green Day—of which Armstrong is the front man—will take particular note, but anyone who enjoys musical theater should check it out. A riff on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, this play takes place in 1960s London and centers on a Beatles-like band named the Quartos. There is, of course, a comical love story, period hair and costumes, and '60s-style rock music that will have you dancing in your seat.
Times vary | Linda Gross Theater, 336 W. 20th St., New York | $75 | website
January 10 | Improv Everywhere
No Pants Subway Ride
What started as a small prank by a local improv group has become a New York institution, but one that still manages to take everyone by surprise. For the 15th year, thousands of people will embark on a subway ride wearing all the winter gear they need to keep themselves warm—except pants. Participants get on at different stations and act totally normal. It's like being part of a huge inside joke as New Yorkers try to keep their cool and not comment on the influx of pantless train passengers. Even though No Pants Subway Ride takes place in dozens of cities around the world, it remains a true New York experience. You must join the Improv Everywhere mailing list to get the details of when and where this is happening.
Details revealed via email | Free | website
A native New Yorker, Katherine is a freelance food and travel writer who has eaten her way across the globe and is always on the lookout for her next great meal. She is an avid reader, insatiable traveler, sometimes photographer, and mom to an inquisitive toddler.