Host of the show is David Smithyman, the dry-as-a-bone Australian-bred comedian who is Emcee, Producer and Senior Instructor of Kids 'N Comedy. Smithyman's book, "Young, Funny and Unbalanced: a Stand-Up Comedy Guide for Teens," was recently awarded a Silver Award by Literary Classics. It is available through Amazon (ISBN: 1478161752). The book outlines methods for summoning material organically out of your soul and explains the Kids 'N Comedy method of comedy training, which is an unconventional education for unconventional kids.
Kids 'N Comedy originated in 1996 as a talent show for kids at a The West End Gate restaurant on the Upper West Side that was owned at the time by Associate Director Stu Morden, Art D'Lugoff and Manny Roth (Cafe Wha). The talent of the kids caught the attention of BBC-TV, which filmed a documentary about them, which resulted in more media attention. Demand spiked among kids wishing to perform and this prompted Morden and his wife, Artistic Director Jo Ann Grossman, to establish Kids 'N Comedy to serve these budding comics through classes taught by a rotating staff, an intensive summer comedy camp, and professional gigs. Their performance series started at The Knitting Factory in 1996 and moved to Caroline's in 1998 and to Gotham Comedy Club in 2000. The founders point out that there's a ten year ramp-up to a comedy career and stage time is essential to becoming a good performer. Before there was Kids 'N Comedy, getting that stage time was nearly impossible, since Comedy Clubs are primarily bars and therefore off-limits to teens.
Distinguished alumni of Kids 'N Comedy include Josh Peck, star of Nickelodeon's "Drake & Josh," and Lucian Maisel, who can be seen in the film "The Ex" with Zack Braff and Amanda Peet. Last Spring, ensemble member David Thompson made his film debut in "WIN WIN" with Paul Giamatti (directed and written by Tom McCarthy).
Beside their regular shows at Gotham Comedy Club, Kids 'N Comedy performers have appeared at a variety of benefits and charity events, including events of the WB11 Care for Kids Fund, a fund of the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation (supporting needy families, including teen mothers, homeless families and at-risk youth), Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation (it brightens the lives of seriously ill children and their families) and the Toyota Comedy Festival.
Pictured: Conor Carroll imagines himself as a Christmas present. Photo by Julia Slaff.