Sometimes it seems like no other city on earth is as ripe for comedy as New York. Its notoriously tight quarters and trying conditions make it a breeding ground for humor—a necessary release from the things that could, when thought about too hard or taken too seriously, drive you absolutely mad. This environment has long been the breeding ground for comedic hopefuls, many of whom have gone on to become some of the biggest names in the business. The tradition grabbing a mic and stepping into the spotlight is longstanding, and, on any given night, you can walk into a room and find someone working hard for a laugh.
As of October 9, New York native and comedian Khalil Walker brings his Horseplay Comedy series, an established hit at Ponyboy in Brooklyn, to the stage of our own Make Believe bar and social club. Every other Wednesday at 9 p.m., you can swing by Make Believe for sets by some of NYC’s brightest new talents—Walker included—sans cover charge. For its inaugural launch, Walker brings with him fellow comedians Michael Rowland, Paris Sashay, Molly Austin, Gavin Matts, and Usama Siddique. Swing by, grab a drink, have a laugh—and then come back for more.
Below, we head to Make Believe to chat with Walker to talk comedy royalty, inherited humor, and never fearing an unreceptive room.
Is this because I’m a comedian?
Where are you from?
Born in Park Slope. Raised in Harlem. Zero Mets fans in this family.
Lived anywhere else aside from NYC?
A two-year stint in Miami. Shout out the U.
When did you get into comedy?
I’m a newcomer as a participant, but I’ve been watching some of these comic’s hustle their craft for a few years now. I started doing my own thing about a year and a half ago.
Other person in your family who is also funny, if any:
What comedian did you admire the most growing up?
Bernie Mac. That’s my guy. A king of comedy.
Alright, Horseplay Comedy. What’s it all about?
Horseplay is the people’s show. It’s about comedy but it’s really about community. The goal is to mesh nightlife and hospitality with comedy, past the traditional two-drink minimum and a laugh. It’s a show, it’s a party, maybe it’s a Hinge* date, but it’s definitely a good time.
*We are not getting paid to plug Hinge, but it is our dating app of choice and we are not above corporate dollars.
Neighborhood character of note:
I am the neighborhood character. Ha! I’m going to end up as someone’s answer to this question some day.
First time you ever went on stage:
I did a storytelling at a show called “Dummies and Co.” in Park Slope. Shout out Sean O’Brien. I talked about going to Dalton on the UES and my proclivity for white women.
First time you ever bombed:
Making gentrification jokes at an art fundraiser in Williamsburg. No one seemed to find the humor. I loved it anyways.
Feeling you get when you’re about to get on stage:
Who thought it was a good idea to give me a microphone?
Feeling you get when you get off stage:
Three up-and-coming comedians we should have on our radar:
Paris Sashay, Jordan Jensen, and Napoleon Emill.
Your idea of a good room:
A captive audience that isn’t afraid to laugh at something, even if it might be dark, twisted, or taboo.
Dream gig in New York City:
Radio City, hosting for my friends. They’re way funnier than me.
Favorite kind of laugh:
The “Oooo… that was wrong but it’s true.”
Other places our readers can find you:
You can find us at Ponyboy in Greenpoint every Monday night at 9 p.m. We also have an exciting new project in the works. Follow us @horseplaycomedy on Instagram to keep track of where we’re at in the city.