On Friday nights, after all the hair’s been swept off the floor and the last comb dropped into the jar of Barbicide, people form a line outside the Original Barbershop in the East Village.
And they’re not waiting around for a haircut.
By 8:45, the mostly millennial crowd settles in among the swivel stools, wooden benches and folding chairs as comedian Ronnie Lordi switches on a mike to open “Live at the Barbershop” — one of the city’s more offbeat comedy clubs.
“Word is getting around,” says Carl Anthony, 40, of Astoria, who’s been coming to the barbershop at least once or twice a month for the last three years, but not for a trim. A comedy devotee who sees some 20 to 30 comedy shows a year, the television stage manager tells The Post, “This lineup could rival many comedy clubs.”
Credit Lordi for dreaming it up. In 2016, he was getting a trim in one of those barber chairs at the Original (174 E. Second St.), when he noticed the shop — spiffy, but standard, as far as barbershops go — had all the makings of a good comedy venue.
“That could actually be a stage,” Lordi thought, referring to a shallow black platform upon which the vanity mirrors sit. “And there’s the stereotypical brick wall behind it.”
He told shop owner Greg Sysoyev that he was a comedian, and Sysoyev asked him if he and a few comedian-friends could perform at a shop party on short notice. Happy to oblige, Lordi said: “Anywhere I can get onstage.” With that, a grass-roots comedy show began.
“We asked restaurants and businesses around the neighborhood [to donate]chairs,” says Lordi. The two men brought in a mike and amp, and set up a table of mixers and cups for those who bring their own booze. “You can do comedy anywhere. All you need is a microphone and seats.”
Lordi, who’s produced and hosted “Live at the Barbershop” every Friday at 8:30 p.m. for the last three years, manages to squeeze some 25 to 40 guests and comedians into the store, sometimes squeezing two sets into a night. He says he has no idea how word got around.
“There’s been very little marketing,” he says. “I just put a sign in the window.” (There’s also a Web site: GreatestShowEver.com.)
“I run a basement show at a wine bar,” says comedian Hanna Dickinson, whose shows are often listed in magazines and online, “but we don’t have the traction this barbershop does.”
Admission fees lower than those of the established comedy clubs may help: Entry is $7 if you RSVP ahead of time, and $10 at the door, if there’s room.
On a recent night, Lordi asks the audience how they heard about the show. A few shout back “Instagram.” Internet searches are also valuable promoters. Kyra, 22, who declined to give her last name, says she came with a friend who simply “Googled ‘B.Y.O.B. comedy show.’ ”
Lordi usually performs a quick opening set before introducing the first of some five or six comics a night. So far, the surprise guests have included Judah Friedlander (“30 Rock”), Roy Wood Jr. (“The Daily Show”) and Dante Nero (“The Blacklist”).
It’s a coveted gig among comics, too. “I’ve had established comics ask me who to talk to about getting up [onstage],” says comedian Justin Smith, 32.
Unlike traditional comedy clubs, the Original Barbershop doesn’t have table service, which can be distracting for comedians, while pricey drinks and tab minimums are a buzzkill for guests. Here, comedy lovers bring their own bottles, and the small room lets them sit mere feet from the action.
“Since laughing is contagious, comedy is just better in an intimate setting,” says comedian Ian Lara, 28. “It just makes the laughter explosive.”
The laid-back setting also lends itself to workshopping. “It’s a great gauge,” says comedian Dean Delray, 52. “If [a joke]is working in there, it’s probably going to work across America,” he adds. “It’s like a dojo.”
The demographic is primarily 20-somethings, what Delray refers to as “the future” of stand-up fans.
Nevertheless, the uber-hip crowd can be intimidating.
“I never know if it’s a comedy show or a Vice company party,” says comedian Usama Siddiquee.
“I get nervous performing there because there’s a lot of hot, young people who I feel like would have been mean to me in middle school,” says Dickinson, 26, who believes the show resonates with college students and millennials because of the “speakeasy” vibe. “It’s a ‘scene.’ ”
Lordi, who performs at other clubs six or seven nights a week, says he and Sysoyev see no end in sight for the barbershop series. “My customers, the whole neighborhood, they love it,” says Sysoyev, 32.
“We have room for everyone!”
Lordi says he hopes to one day hand off the show to a younger generation of comics. Right now, he and his friends are having too good a time to walk away.
“If you’re onstage having fun, it kind of sets the tone for the show. That’s been the idea from the beginning. At the end of the day, it’s a hang.”