We really mellowed out this summer, abandoning all but the beachiest of books, giving up on True Detective after a few dark and confusing episodes (turning to Mr. Robot instead), and eating ice cream for dinner instead of cooking or even bothering to go out for a real meal. It’s September now though, time to get ahold of ourselves and pick up a novel, hit a museum, try a just-opened restaurant, listen to new album and re-engage. Here are 10 cultural items and events we’re looking forward to this month.
You may not see Eugene Mirman shoot lasers out of his eyes at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, but there will be plenty of other dazzling performances. Photo: Eugene Mirman
10. Despite its self-aggrandizing name, the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival is actually a wonderful place to discover lesser-known comedians destined to become Daily Show or SNL superstars. Every September, it takes over The Bell House and Union Hall for a string of days, and as usual, the shows filled with celebrity stand-ups have already sold out. But as BB contrib Kate Hooker wrote around this time last year, “The secret to the festival is that the less star-studded line-ups are where you’ll see tomorrow’s new favorite funny person.” Case in point: Jo Firestone, whose innovative shows like Punderdome 3000 have become a staple of NYC nightlife, is in pole position for breakout success, and she is in two EMCF shows, including the aptly named “From the Basement of Union Hall to Network Television in 2-3 Years.” Get tickets while you can, festival runs Sept.18-21.
9. Whether you are a card-carrying Jonathan Franzen fan, or you have yet to be moved by his depictions of the unhappy, All-American family and his critiques of modern life, there is reason to be optimistic about his new novel, Purity, which has attracted praise for actually being a pleasurable read. The internet has never been kind to Franzen–mainly because he says ridiculous shit, like toying with adopting an Iraqi war orphan–but his recent interview with Terry Gross revealed his endearing side, and his Sept. 26 reading as part of the Brooklyn Voices series with Greenlight Books and St. Joseph’s College is a chance to hear the Great American Novelist in person. Tickets are $30 and include a copy of the book–so you may want to download a copy in advance, then retrieve the hardcover version for your shelves.
A tart from last season of “The Great British Baking Show.” Photo: BBC
8. Imagine if you will, a magical tent in the middle of the English countryside. It’s been outfitted with 13 baking stations complete with ovens, mixers, canisters of flour and sugar, scales, whisks, everything necessary to bake. Under that tent 13 talented home bakers will toil to create cakes, biscuits, pastries and puddings of all kinds. They’re competing against one other, yet they’re remarkably kind and funny, popping by one another’s stations with a cup of tea or a word of encouragement while their bakes rise in the oven. This is The Great British Baking Show, hands down the most delightful food competition ever created. The passionate amateurs competing for the title of England’s top baker are so lovely, so engaged and so skillful, you’ll be held rapt as they prepare obscure European confectionary and towering tea cakes. If it sounds dull, just give it a try, there’s something soothing and civil about this show that’s hard to explain, but easy to adore. Season two (for America, there are more seasons that have aired on the BBC) starts on Thirteen Sunday, Sept. 6, and if you haven’t added the PBS app to your Roku or other device, this is your chance to do so (and binge on Antiques Roadshow after the baking is over). (more…)