Layers: The Weinbachs Steal The Show at VINTAGE BASEMENT
Walls are not equivalent to DNA. Walls were not equivalent to DNA 20 years ago, and the chances of them becoming like DNA anytime soon is unlikely. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. There’s just no other way for me to say it other than: Walls are not equivalent to DNA.
I say this because I want to dispel the notion that being a twin is easy. It takes a lot to be a twin, and just because you share a wall with your neighbor, doesn’t make you two twins. Max and Nicky Weinbach are no strangers to the world of twins. They’ve been professional twins for decades, and decided (together of course) to use their twinship to create Vintage Basement.
Max and Nicky were exposed to a lot of comedy growing up. Waiting tables at the local comedy club gave them the information and inspiration to start a show of their own. A show that wasn’t a standard comedy show; a twin comedy show.
And hence the birth of Vintage Basement: the vaudeville comedy show hosted by two Filipino-Jewish Frankie Vallis with guitars. The two start this July show off with a playful twin tune that sure put smiles on everyone’s face. The song was pleasant, and joyful, and raised the spirits of the crowd without telling a single joke. You could sense the care Max and Nicky put into the show, not just in their material, but in making a warm and enjoyable environment for comedy.
Once the song is finished, the jersey boys put down their guitars and take us back to 1910. Don’t worry they had twins in 1910. The twins seamlessly transition from singer/songwriter to burlesque ringmasters and perform several little skits. It’s quite a sight to see two twins do comedy together. They support and highlight the others individual strengths in a scene while simultaneously working as a collective unit. The equilibrium that they’ve created provides a consistency of hilarity in their skits.
The Oprah Twinfrys leave the audience with a rendition of the Jaws theme song performed by a group of sassy black women as Shane Torres comes out on stage. Usually, when I see a show, the performers get better and better as the night progresses, but not at Vintage Basement. Here I found it to be the complete opposite. No one could quite match the level of fiery confidence and sweat that Shane was on. His confidence comes from a place of humility, making situations like hobos coughing into his mouth relatable and hilarious.
From there the laugh output became slower, but this isn’t necessarily a reflection on the performer’s ability: Dulcé Sloan managed to turn the audience’s tendency to drop beer bottles into a heckler’s worst nightmare and a comedian’s best wet dream, and Sean McKenzie delivered one of my favorite jokes of the night; about how contact wearers are just day walkers for the optically impaired.
The twins end the night with another song; a smoother and calmer one than the opener. Some shows work well ending on a big exclamation point, but this folkish lullaby fit all the fun and quirks that Vintage Basement represents. I only wish I could see more from Max and Nicky, and stuff like their “Dental Hygiene” sketch that really honored the absurd reality of Vintage Basement. The work they put into this show is palpable, and what separates Vintage Basement from an ordinary comedy show to a transformative comedy experience.
Mentions: This show took place July 16th of 2018. Vintage Basement takes place every 3rd Monday of the month at the Under St. Marks Theater at 94 St. Marks Pl. For more information check out maxandnicky.com. Photo by Brady Boyle.