Peculiar Streams XXXIII

Meghan Jones reads "Pupa" by Jacob Rice at Peculiar Streams #33, in the back room at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village (Artistic Rendition by GIMP).

By Andrew Andrews

If we had to guess what distinguishes a great variety show from a run-of-the-mill open mic night, we’d have to credit the curation of the acts that are invited to the stage. We’ve reviewed plenty of variety shows here, including a couple of others in the East Village (namely, Nate Towsen’s Downtown Variety Hour and the Ten-Foot Rat Cabaret), but somehow Peculiar Streams has eluded our radar... until now, that is. Just about every other month since September 2011, Matt Herzfeld and Sam Reisman have been presenting a variety of acts to the packed Back Room at Jimmy’s No. 43 Craft Beer & Kitchen on East 7th Street, yet it took nearly three dozen shows before we’d even heard of it!

Because it’s our mission to connect you with events you’ll love as soon as we discover them—not to mention, because we love variety shows so much!—we put Peculiar Streams on our calendar as soon as we got wind of it. We arrived at Jimmy’s a few minutes late (expecting to still be early, as is often the case at this type of event), but the room was already packed and things had already started, with a duo calling themselves Misericorde opening the show before Herzfeld welcomed the audience and introduced Maxine Anderson, who shared some poetry about things she hates and mentioned hazelnut milk, which we didn’t know was a thing but now feel compelled to check out. Then, before intermission, Meghan Jones (depicted above) performed a dramatic reading from Jacob Rice’s play Pupa, skillfully expressing the feelings of a woman whose lover has just proposed... to somebody else! Directed by Anna Strasser, the piece was our favorite of the evening, despite strong competition (if it had been a competition!) from many of the other acts.

Musical guests Lion and Spaniel opened the second half of the show with a few catchy numbers on banjo and guitar, eliciting the audience to clap along. Next up, scientist Zephyr Penoyre convinced us that evolution is less about survival of the fittest and more about survival of the just-fit-enough, with a stand up comedy routine that would make a great starting point for a lecture at SASS or even Story Collider. Keeping the laughs coming, Halle Kiefer took over with a bit about borrowing pajama pants from a new lover and a family friend with a successful career writing alien erotica. Closing out the show, sports writer Joe DePaolo read a rough draft of Medieval Fast Times, a piece about a national underground fight club in which athletes don expensive suits of armor and bludgeon each other with weapons from the middle ages.

If every episode of Peculiar Streams includes a lineup as varied and talented as this, we’ll definitely become regulars for this bi-monthly series; considering it’s been running for five years and still packs the house, we have no doubt that will be the case. The show is free, and Jimmy’s rotating selection of craft beers on tap (along with a wide assortment of bottles and a few other drink choices) is worth exploring, too. So check out the next installment of Peculiar Streams, and as always, tell us whether you agree that the show is as good as we say!

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Andrew Andrews attended Peculiar Streams XXXIII at Jimmy's No. 43 in New York on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 9:00pm to write this review.

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