2007_11_sklars.jpgThe Sklar Brothers spent years living in New York, working their way through the alternative comedy scene, becoming in demand performers, and eventually getting their own MTV show, Apt 2F, and later a Comedy Central Special. Then, once they had moved to LA and gotten comfortable, they were sent back into New York to film their show Cheap Seats for ESPN Classics. It seems like the Sklars just can't stay away from the city because they're coming back on November 9th and 10th to perform at Comix.

Having lived in the city for as long as you have, you must have racked up a few interesting "Only in New York" moments.
Jason Sure. I went on a date with a woman, and this was before I knew this city very well, and we walked in the West Village-- in '95-- we walked all the way out past the West Side Highway, before there was that beautiful park down along the West Side Highway down in the West Village. And we walked way out on kind of a dark pier, feet dangling over the Hudson River. It was quite beautiful, actually, and it was night time, and the whole city was lit up. And she was sitting right next to me, and I looked right back over her shoulder, and I just started talking to her about what I saw. I didn't miss a beat. I was like, "It's such a beautiful view, you can see the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, two guys fucking, the Chrysler Building." Literally, two guys were fucking like eight feet away from us. I heard the squish of a penis in someone else's ass; it was that close to me. And I didn't know what to do. I didn't realize that we had stumbled upon like the Bramble Two out on this pier. I don't want to see anyone fucking. Gay or straight, I don't need to be eight feet away from anyone fucking.

Randy My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, had bought Knicks tickets for me for my birthday, and we were sitting like two rows from the top. In the middle of the first quarter, these people who worked for Madison Square Garden with clipboards came by the row in front of us and stopped at my feet, and they were like, "Would you like to participate in something between the first and second quarter on the court?" I was like, "Yeah, I'd love to. Are you kidding me? Coolest thing ever!" They said, "Did you play any basketball in college?" I said, "I was in a 5'9" and under league," and they're like, "Okay, you didn't." Then they brought me down right before the first quarter was about to end, and I had to shoot three free throws, two college three pointers, and two pro three pointers, each worth a certain amount of points, and if I got seven points, I could shoot a half court shot for seventy-seven thousand, seven hundred seventy-seven dollars and seventy-seven cents. I was like, "All right, let's do it." So I got up there, and I couldn't believe this. It was so crazy to see the backboard that was glass, and you could see everybody behind it, and everybody's there.

Jason Kevin Bacon was there.

Randy Woody Allen was there in the crowd.

Jason Spike Lee, of course.

Randy I just don't want to air ball. That's the one thing I don't want to do. If I draw iron, no big deal. I sink the first free throw, and I'm feeling pretty good. I sink the second free throw, I've got the crowd behind me. I sink the third free throw, three in a row, and now the Garden is up. They're excited. And of course I miss my next four shots, and I get booed off the court. It was such a classic New York sports moment, to have everybody behind you and thirty seconds later want to kill you. So I got booed off the court, which felt great.

Jason Meanwhile, I was at home, and another friend of ours called me from the Garden, and they're like, "Tell your brother to bend his knees when he's shooting a college three pointer at the Garden."

Randy So I get home, and I was really excited because there was a photographer there to take your picture, so I have this picture documenting me shooting a free throw at Madison Square Garden with fans around. I was so excited. So three weeks later, I get an envelope from Madison Square Garden with no name, no contact information, no nothing from the Knicks. I open it up, so excited to get my picture, and it's a picture of some other dude shooting a free throw. They screwed it up. I didn't even get a picture of me. I just got some weird other guy shooting a free throw. And his form looked terrible.

As you were leaving Madison Square Garden, how did the other fans treat you?
Randy With a little disdain. There was anger towards me.

Jason Put it this way: Isaiah Thomas sexually harassed him.

Randy He sexually harassed me a little bit on my way out. He wasn't even a part of the organization. He was just there, and he asked me to lift up my shirt, which I thought was really inappropriate.

So, given the opportunity, how would you change New York?
Randy I would make it affordable. When we got there, it was definitely an affordable place to live.

Jason In '94, we lived in the city. Whatever, Brooklyn is amazing.

Randy Brooklyn is amazing, and it's forcing people to go out to those places, but I think it's really hard to raise a family in Manhattan. It's really, really hard, and Manhattan's so cool, you kind of want it to be accessible on that level. But it just isn't. It's the coolest city ever, don't get me wrong. We're trying to figure out any way we can get back there and see friends, and the fact that we did shoot Cheap Seats in New York was about the greatest thing that could have happened. Here we were going back to New York on somebody else's dime.

Jason Every month for three and a half, four years, and we got a chance to eat at new restaurants, and hang out with our friends.

Randy We still stayed somewhat relevant in the comedy scene there, and it was really, really fun.

Being comedians living in New York, did you pick up any tricks on how to get by on few funds?
Jason Yeah. Certainly you can make money performing in the city. That's something you can't really do in L.A. We used to do about ten sets of comedy a week, and on the weekends, if you were one of the featured comedians at the clubs around town, we would get fifty bucks a set. If you're doing four sets total on Friday and Saturday night, you each walk away with three hundred bucks a week. That's not bad.

Randy It's really not bad. That's your spending money for a week and a half or so, and if you're doing that on a weekly basis--

Jason There are ways to save money. Gray's Papaya was a classic. If you don't have any money, go there. Corner Bistro, best burger I've ever had in my life.

Randy It was $4.50, and I think it's gone up maybe forty-five cents in ten years.

Jason There are a lot of places and things in New York that are totally affordable.

Randy Watch the Symphony in the Park. That was always a great night, although one night I went to watch the symphony in Central Park, and I was so excited because Bolero is one of my favorite songs and they were going to play it, and I was settling in for a wonderful evening of hearing some great music under the stars. It was a beautiful night, it was breezy and perfect, and we had a little picnic, my girlfriend at the time who is now my wife. Then as soon as the song started, this group of people sitting on a blanket nearby us started having the worst conversation ever. They were work friends, and one of them was upset that he didn't get a company car. So it was like,

Jason (hums Bolero)

Randy -- "I mean I don't understand it. I put in as much hours as Jim, and I don't get the company car. It's bullshit if you ask me." --

Jason (continues humming Bolero)

Randy -- "Is my 401k worth nothing?" I was like, oh God. There's nowhere to go, and you're just kind of like, "Well, that's part of it."

Moving to New York and later to L.A., which of the two was easier to adjust to?
Randy New York was easier because there was more going on outside of what we were doing. You always had an escape. You'd get on the subway, and there would be people in the financial district.

Jason We spent the first few years, before we got really engrossed in the comedy scene, just getting to know the city, and meeting friends from school out for drinks, and going to parties that had nothing to do with comedy. There was just so much more going on, and learning the city became your part time job.

Randy It was so nice, there were so many ways to take you out. Whereas in L.A., the adjustment was much harder, because the industry is all around you at all times. Jason went to his dentist, and--

Jason My dental hygienist is an amazing dental hygienist. She's really one of the best. I kind of just want her to enjoy the fact that she's one of the best dental hygienists I've ever had, but instead she's pitching me a sitcom about a dentist's office while my mouth is open, and there's nothing I can do.

Randy "Why can't you just be this?" And you get it, because people have ambitions. That's why a lot of people move out here.

Jason It's why we're out here.

Randy So we can't begrudge people having those ambitions. But at the same time, it can be a little much. So when you're working, it's great out here. When you're not working, there's nowhere to turn. The weather being so nice kind of mocks you.

Jason In New York, you'd feel shitty, and then it would also be rainy outside, and you'd be like, "Yeah, fuckin' that's how life is. Gray, and rainy, and cold, and I don't want to leave my apartment."

Randy Thank you New York City for matching my mood. Back here, the sun's shining, it's bright, it's beautiful.

Jason Good looking people are jogging.

Randy It's like they're taunting you.

Jason Fuck you and your fucking sleeveless shirt.

What do you consider a perfect day of recreation in New York?

Randy Basketball at Chelsea Piers or Basketball City. Everything outside, all outside stuff. Walk to Eisenberg's.

Jason Yeah, Eisenberg's on 23rd. Get a tuna sandwich. Best tuna in the world, bar none. Between 22nd and 23rd on 5th. Sit at the counter and watch all the dudes who are making the stuff eating. That's always a good sign, when people who are working at a place are eating the food that they're serving you.

Randy Then I would say maybe hop to Brooklyn and cruise around. I don't know, what would you do in Brooklyn?

Jason I don't know, but there's great shopping in Alita and SoHo, and the East Village. Walking the streets, that in itself. That's what's so great about New York, the fact that you can walk the street. I don't know, maybe take the Subway uptown and go see a Yankees game in the late afternoon after you've played basketball and had a tuna sandwich. A day game at Yankee Stadium, and then come back down into the city, it's late afternoon, get drinks somewhere on a patio. You can sit outside at Pastif's on 14th and just have a drink and maybe an appetizer.

Randy The roof of the Hotel Gansevoort.

Jason You're hours away from dinner, so you're letting the sun go down, and you're hanging with friends. New York is the kind of place where you call people up and say, "I'm here. Come meet me."

Randy "I'm down at Park." That place is awesome. You just gather your people up, then maybe have a little bite to eat somewhere. Where would you go, Jay? There's a great sandwich place on Mulberry, or that great place down on Rivington that Leslie took us. That place is awesome, with the subway tile around you.

Jason Oh yeah, that place is really neat. I forgot the name of it.

Randy Like Rivington and Norfolk.

Jason That place is great. And then you meet some friends out for drinks, maybe do a set of comedy or two during the night, and then late night, get together with friends at the Blue Ribbon.

Randy Get a nice steak late at night.

Jason At two or three in the morning.

Randy Hang out, go to a party, and meet up with friends. The day's just extended. It was just perfect. That to me is a perfect day, spending it with a lot of friends, walking the streets of New York, enjoying yourself and eating great food. That is New York in a nutshell.

Compared to New York, what does L.A. have to offer in terms of a great day?

Randy I'd say waking up earlier than you would in New York, I'd say taking a good hike somewhere, maybe running because it's closer, but getting exercise, getting to the Body Factory and getting a Hulk Shake.

Jason That's a great thing to do.

Randy Walk to Amoeba Records and putz around in Amoeba for a little while. Then I would say go check a movie at the Arclight, then maybe drive to Venice, it's really cool out there. Check out furniture stores and clothing stores, stuff like that. There's a lot of cool stuff out there.