Littlefield, a once thriving performance venue in Downtown Brooklyn, was restored to its pre-pandemic glory this past Wednesday. A fully vaccinated crowd filled the space to the brim for “We Fixed It,” a new comedy show curated by local talent and focused on promoting diversity and inclusion.
Shenuque Tissera, Peter Grosz, and Vivek Netrakanti discussed their own comedic journeys and the role that humor plays in Brooklyn’s culture during turbulent times.
“I kind of just jumped in,” Tissera said of his entry into stand up. “It was something I’ve always wanted to do, so I went to a few open mics and realized, ‘Wait, I’m good at this! I can make people laugh.’”
“I think for most people who want to start, the barrier is that it’s like a pretty hostile environment,” Netrakanti added. “Luckily, we met and had this idea that we should start a show.”
The unlikely trio come from different backgrounds – Tissera from a Sri Lankan family on Staten Island, Netrakanti from an Indian family in New Jersey, and Grosz from a Jewish family upstate – but quickly discovered many similarities across their experiences.
The content of their comedy treads similar ground, addressing the woes of living with strict parents, the quirks of family life, and the oddities of moving to Brooklyn to pursue comedy.
Tissera, Netrakanti, and Grosz previously hosted a show in Queens, but decided that after the pandemic they wanted to try something more ambitious.
Their new show is specifically aimed at bringing in new and talented comics from diverse backgrounds, highlighting the individuality of their humor and the commonality of their experiences.
“I don’t want the lineup to just be five people with a Netflix special,” Netrakanti said. “If you’re going to complain about there not being enough representation, you got to be on the forefront of the art. There is always someone new and talented that we can give the stage to and it’ll be their biggest show ever.”
The three performers are also hopeful that the shared experience of the pandemic will lessen the amount of hostility in the comedy world, making it easier for comedians and audiences to enjoy themselves.
“Some of those venues closed down, the old institutions that would gatekeep,” Tissera explained. “There are power shifts happening and no one really knows where it’s landing. So it’s a good time if you wanna make it into comedy.”
“We Fixed It” is meant to poke fun at the current zeitgeist and celebrate the ways in which comedy and other arts can make sense of the world. Tissera, Netrakanti, and Grosz are confident that comedy will continue to have an important role in Brooklyn’s future as the city continues to change.
“New York comedy has so many slices to it,” Grosz opined. “There’s the Jewish self- deprecating humor. There’s vaudeville. A lot of the early female comics came out of New York too.”
“I think we want to be a multiracial, multi-gender show that holds a lot of different comics and different audience members,” he added. “That will be our style.”
In addition to Tissera, Netrakanti, and Grosz, Wednesday’s show featured performances from New York based comedians Emily Blotnick, Dylan Adler, Kyle Marian, and Farooq Hussain. Every seat in Littlefield was filled, with many more people standing in the back of the venue.
With another successful night under his belt, Tissera is standing by his impromptu decision to give comedy a try.
“I mean, me personally, I think doing comedy is probably the best decision I’ve made in my lifetime,” Tissera said.
“Yeah, and he’s a married man,” Netrakanti and Grosz joked in unison.
For more information, follow Tissera (@shenuque), Netrakanti (@indianmaisel), and Grosz (@petergrosz) on Instagram.