May is a good month for comedy in the ‘Burgh with Chris Rock back on the road after nine years. He’ll be in town for three nights. Other laugh makers highlighted are a former intern of Howard Stern, a male intern, Mitch Fatel. Sebastian Maniscalco derives humor from his Italian family and eating at fast food restaurants. And Bruce Bruce loves to rip on his audience members in a very funny manner. Trivia nights are hot at local bars and pubs and we’ve detailed a few that we think will be of interest.
Thursday, May 11 – Sunday, May 14
Internships have taken criticism sometimes as unpaid labor leading nowhere. But the one Mitch Fatel had seemed to work out. Fatel, now a comedian, was once an intern for the Howard Stern Show. (Yes, in a lawsuit waiting to happen, Stern has interns). This is probably where Fatel learned to talk about boobs, which he does at length in a slow, simply squirrelly style. A comedic sampling: “I don’t even know why I like breasts. They don’t do anything. They just bounce up and down, and it makes me happy.” If that kind of observational humor gets a giggle out of you, he’ll be appearing at The Improv. 166 E. Bridge St., The Waterfront, Homestead. (EC, RH)
Tuesday, May 16 – Thursday, May 18
Only Chris Rock could not tour for nine years and then return with three virtually sold-out shows at the Benedum Center. Fans looking for catharsis after the presidential election may have helped sales, but the feat arguably has more to do with Rock remaining a great comedian. His career began in 1984 at New York’s Catch a Rising Star. Eddie Murphy saw Chris Rock performing his stand-up routine at a club one night and was so impressed he decided to mentor him. He even gave Rock his first film role, Beverly Hills Cop II. Rock was a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” from 1990 to 1993. 1994’s “Big Ass Jokes” was his first HBO comedy special. 1996’s Emmy-award-winning “Bring the Pain” followed as did 1999’s “Bigger & Blacker.” His writing, directing, and acting credits include movies such as 2003’s Head of State and 2014’s Top Five. In 2005, he co-created “Everybody Hates Chris,” a television series based on his teenage years that he also narrated. Hosting credits include the 77th and 88th Academy Awards. The latter ceremony was infamous for its lack of racially diverse acting nominees, something which Rock addressed throughout the show. On and off stage, Rock is thoughtful, illuminating, and funny. 8 p.m. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (CM)
Thursday, May 18
You don’t have to be an Italian-American to appreciate comedian Sebastian Maniscalco’s humor, but it helps. Topics include a childhood home that was always filled with food and gossiping with his mother over the phone about all the trouble his cousins have gotten into. He was born in Chicago and started performing in bars and bowling alleys while a waiter at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. His career got a boost when Vince Vaughn invited him and three other comedians to tour with him in 2006. The tour was the subject of the documentary Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights — Hollywood to the Heartland. Maniscalco has since appeared in three Showtime specials, most recently 2016’s “Why Would You Do That?” He was a guest on the seventh season of Jerry Seinfeld’s web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” His upcoming memoir is titled Where You Wanna Eat? He plays Heinz Hall. 8 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (CM)
Friday May 19 – Sunday, May 21
Bruce Bruce is in town. No, that’s not a typo the editor missed; it’s comedian Bruce Church’s stage name. Church overcame growing up in one of Atlanta’s roughest neighborhoods to become a successful comic. He’s hosted BET’s “Comic View” for two seasons and has had his own “Comedy Central Presents” special. He’s also made numerous appearances on TV and in films. A big man who pokes fun at his size and good-naturedly ribs the audience, With Don Rickles now gone, Bruce can fill some of that void. He is also a spokesperson for Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits. Bruce puts on a show that makes for a good time. Pittsburgh Improv, 166 E. Bridge St., The Waterfront, Homestead. (RH)
Pursuit of Trivia
Some call it a dive. Others, home. Many come for trivia night but return for the camaraderie and daily drink specials. Nestled between Atwood Street and York Way, Gene’s Place may be the best South Oakland bar that you’ve never heard of. Owner Gene Ney teaches business courses part-time at Carlow University, which makes him an educator both in front of, and behind, the bar. The clientele features an eclectic mix of Pitt students, both undergrad and grad, and Oakland natives. The three flat screens are tuned to either professional Pittsburgh teams or to Pitt athletics. For those who prefer to play rather than watch, the dartboard is always ready. The weekly draw here is “Trivia on Tap,” 9 p.m. every Wednesday. Harrison Kinzler and Mike (“Marty”) Stanis make for some tough quizmasters, but to the victors go free booze. Winners or losers, everyone leaves with knowledge gained and a smile on their face. Gene’s has recently switched to a smoke free bar. See our feature story on Gene’s. 3616 Louisa St., Oakland. (CM)
What U.S. city was the first to host the Olympics (see the end of this pick for the answer)? This and other questions are some that you may be faced with while playing team trivia. One such location for this activity is Sidelines Bar & Grill in Millvale, run by Pittsburgh Bar Trivia and hosted by Entertainment Central team member Christopher Maggio. Teams can have up to ten people, registration for the Sunday night competition begins at 7:45 p.m. and the match runs from 8-10 p.m. What is to be gained from attending a trivia night? A fun outing, knowledge (or realizing how much you don’t know), camaraderie, and for the winning team—one free drink per person. The answer to the trivia question is St. Louis, Missouri in 1904. 621 Evergreen Rd., Millvale. (RH)
Mario’s East Side hosts Team Trivia Night every Thursday night with Amel. Win, place, or show and your team will earn Mario’s gift certificates. Play against the Miller Lite Girls, and you could even win Miller Lite trinkets and giveaways! Feed your brain some chewy trivia and your stomach some delicious Mario’s food. $2 Miller’s during trivia. 8 p.m. 5442 Walnut St., Shadyside. (RH)
Cappy’s Cafe in Shadyside hosts a team trivia contest Wednesday nights with Trivia Master John. 9 – 11 p.m. There’s a Yuengling draft special of $3 for a 20 oz. beer. An order of Cappy’s wings would pair up nicely with a Yuengling or your favorite brew. 5431 Walnut St. (RH)
Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central and enjoys a good belly laugh and trivia game.
Writer and editor Christopher Maggio also contributed to this story.