NYC has a new comedy show for dogs and their owners
No other place in New York could be as cheerful as the comedy nights that take place at Boris & Horton in the East Village.
When you walk into the dog-friendly cafe on the nights Must Love Dogs (and Comedy) sets up shop, there’s an eruption of cheerful mayhem that greets you as the door opens. Dogs of all sizes and colors strut around, wagging their tails, as their owners happily chat with other K9 mates.
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The atmosphere is light and welcoming before the show even starts, and there’s a good chance that before you leave to go home, you’ll make a new friend or end up holding a dog that doesn’t belong to you. .
That’s the kind of scene producer Jolie Dudley has created with Must Love Dogs (and Comedy), her twice-monthly comedy variety show. Featuring up-and-coming and established stand-up acts, characters, storytelling, and musicals that are female, LGBTQIA+, and BIPOC performers, the show aims to shine a light on underrepresented comedians…with a twist. (Dogs are the twist.)
Anyone is welcome to bring their dog to the show as long as they get along well with others. It may sound disruptive, but the performance that comes with it is enhanced and even enhanced with furry friends around. They may not be the subject of the show, but comedians often work them into their jokes and play up their barking and whining. Sometimes they sigh at the perfect time or ask the performer for pets.
“When you think of traditional stand-up, you think of a crowded space that’s dark and where you sit and watch comedians perform. In every way, this show is different,” Dudley tells us. “There’s light in there, so the artists are shocked to see the audience, and when you walk into the space, it’s so joyful and happy. I tell the artists it’s hard to bomb because that everyone smiles at the dogs. The space is such a positive and supportive environment.”
Comedians who have performed recently include Farooq Hussain, Jonathan Thomas, Sam Morrison, Ann Van Epps, Mariel Jimenez and Sami Schwaeber.
Each show raises money for local animal shelters like Muddy Paws Rescue.
Dudley’s own dog, Knope (named after Parks and recreations beloved Leslie Knope), is a rescue, so the mission is close to his heart. When theaters started to reopen, she struggled to leave Knope at home after spending two years with her every day during the pandemic. She wanted to produce a show that would not only help other dogs, but allow people to bring their own furry friends with them. “I felt so guilty leaving Knope at home…I thought maybe other people felt the same way,” she says.
Each show is pay-per-view, but Must Love Dogs (and Comedy) has already raised $1,000 since its launch in October 2021. On some shows, these rescues are accompanied by dogs in need of foster homes or a permanent home.
Moving to Boris & Horton was also the perfect match – Dudley and Knope knew the “front dog” space and after speaking with its owners, it seemed like their missions were aligned.
“We are delighted with the success of Must Love Dogs (and Comedy),” said Boris & Horton co-owner Logan Mikhly. “We find that our customers are looking for fun social events to attend with their dogs and this is the perfect thing. We love the energy of the event and the fact that the comics incorporate canine antics into their settings. Having the ticket sales benefit local animal rescues, that’s the icing on the cake.”
If anything, Dudley hopes audience members leave the show feeling happy and connected.
“There is so much passion and a heart behind [Must Love Dogs],” Dudley said. “Providing and creating space for underrepresented artists and being able to support animal rights is the underlying mission of who we are…as human beings, that’s what motivates us the most. People who come to Must Love Dogs (and Comedy) should be prepared to laugh and sniff their asses.”
You can find box office information for the show at eventbrite.com and follow on Instagram.