Couples Therapy

HiFi, Manhattan

By Andrew Andrews

The betrothed Naomi Ekperigin and Andy Beckerman host Couples Therapy in the back room at Hi-Fi Bar.

At most stand-up comedy shows, you’ll see a lineup of comedians each reciting material that they’ve honed to deliver just the right amount of punch to keep their set rolling. Or maybe it’ll be the kind of show where the comics try out new material to see what kind of reaction it gets. Not at Couples Therapy, though: this one is different. For starters, they don’t just put one comedian on stage at a time, but two of them. And not just two random performers, but two people who actually know each other quite well: as friends, show-business partners or even from a romantic relationship. And they don’t just tell jokes; they talk about their relationship: funny moments they’ve shared, horrific experiences they’ve survived together... and sometimes—O.K., often times—they just rag on each other.

Relationship counseling, with an audience instead of a shrink.

The show is hosted by a real-life couple, Naomi Ekperigin and her “Jew-boo” Andy Beckerman. Together, this duo sets the stage for a great night that’s not quite stand up, not quite storytelling, by recalling various clashes that result from their disparate backgrounds. Tonight, for example, Harlem-born Naomi explained why she can’t stand to have lunch with Andy’s childhood friend and listen to him complain about his stay-at-home wife. There’s a great rapport between these two that really makes you believe that love conquers all, even if the “hardships” they’ve endured are pretty much first-world problems.

The first pair of guests was Matt Catanzano and Richie Moriarty, co-stars of the improv/sketch comedy show Simply Unemployable. Working together has taught these guys what an Odd Couple they are, and demonstrated by discussing Catanzano’s Costanza-like wallet. Next up, friends Clark Jones and Patrick Schroeder talked about living “the insulin and Clueless life,” bonding over growing up diabetic with single moms that don’t have time to take you to the doctor.

At most of the past Couples Therapy shows we’ve seen (including when it was called In Stereo—a reference to the venue: Hi-Fi Bar), the guest couples have been in a romantic relationship (either currently, or in the past). Tonight’s episode was a little different, though: only one of the couples admitted to knowing each other intimately. That couple is BFFs Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp, thanks to two separate instances of hooking up in the moment. The two didn’t say much about their hookups, but they did have a lot to say about their love of Beyonce, their experience performing at college shows, and a Gay New Orleans Walking Tour led by someone that might very well have been an apparition.

Tonight’s show ended on an unusual note—in fact, a whole lot of them—when musical guests Free The Mind (Isabel Martin and Marcia Belsky) performed a handful of comedic songs about feminism, including Women are Perfect and All Older White Men (“all older white men should die, but not my dad”).

Despite the dearth of romantic relationships, this month’s Couples Therapy was as funny as ever, and with no cover charge, definitely worth attending. The tiny back room at Hi-Fi Bar already gets pretty full for this show, and it’s only a matter of time before it has to move to larger digs. Catch it next month, and if you’re in a relationship, contact Naomi and Andy to air your grievances for the rest of us; it’s a helluva lot cheaper than professional therapy!

Andrew Andrews attended Couples Therapy at HiFi in Manhattan on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 8:00pm to write this review.