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Standup That Stands Out

Since its heyday in the '80s, standup comedy has gone through more ups and downs than Anna Nicole Smith on a pogo stick. But with the recent success of the reality show Last Comic Standing and Comedy Central's latest hit Shorties Watching Shorties, it seems the standup stage is in the midst of a renaissance. At the forefront is a group of gritty, foul-mouthed New Yorkers who have, all of a sudden (and all at once), found themselves in the spotlight. Somewhere near the head of this raucous pack comes the sharp and sardonic Cory Kahaney.

"We're very strong, we're very loud, we're high-energy, and we're dark. There's nothing sweet and gentle about us," Kahaney says about the group that includes fellow comedians and close friends Rich Vos, Dave Mordal, Greg Giraldo, and Nick DiPaolo. A former catering manager, Kahaney's journey to the standup stage was partly inevitable and partly due to divine intervention. "I was surrounded by people in the business. Sometimes the universe just shows you what to do," she says as she recalls the night two of her co-workers dragged her to an open-mic night and put her name on the list -- she killed, and there was no turning back. "I thought I'd just do it once or twice a week, but you just can't do comedy once or twice a week. It's very much like cocaine or crack; once you get that high on killing, you always go back for it. You can't leave it alone."

From her half-hour special on Comedy Central to regular guest spots on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and Comedy Central's Premium Blend, the 12-year veteran's razor-sharp punch lines and no-nonsense East Coast sensibility led Backstage Magazine to name her the Best Comedian in New York City. But the big break came when she was selected as one of the five finalists on Last Comic Standing. The newfound notoriety hasn't changed her edgy New York style or sharp delivery -- although it has changed her agents'. "I went from agents saying, 'Let me tell you about Cory Kahaney...' to 'When do you want Cory Kahaney?'"

Coming up, Kahaney's act was largely based on being a single Jewish mother raising a teenaged daughter. Now that she's remarried, though, with her daughter in college and a six-month-old baby boy, inspiration comes from new sources. "My husband is a goldmine," she says. "Whoever is the most amount of trouble in your life is who you write about. He turned out to be quite the treasure-trove." If you want to come out and hear great jokes and laugh all the way through, Kahaney says, "I'm the comic to come see. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel. I believe in telling a joke and sticking by it."

Cory Kahaney performs at the New York Comedy Club, 8221 Glades Rd., Boca Raton, with opening act Greg Lausch, Thursday through Saturday, January 20-22. Tickets cost $5 to $20. Call 561-470-6887, or visit

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Paul A. Leone

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