Bonesso brings stand-up storytelling and alternative comedy to brillobox. Also, learn how to successfully have a night out in Squirrel Hill, and there’s advice for those looking to get a head start on likely Oscar nominees.

I was just sitting at my computer, sobbing. While laughing. Crying through laughter.”

Local comedian Gab Bonesso is describing a performance by Mike DeStefano to me, and—while the tale does seem moving—her reaction seems a bit much. I have to hear the story for myself.

DeStefano is a gruff, foul-mouthed New York comedian. Hardly a likely candidate to bring anyone to tears, but in his story, he describes the experience of caring for his wife in the early 1980s as she was dying of AIDS. His natural ability as a comedian shows through—hence the laughter—but the story is heartbreaking. It’s just a 10-minute story, but it’s perfect.

The recording I heard was part of “The Moth,”  a monthly New York City storytelling event that’s become a cultural force in Manhattan. The format is simple enough—any kind of (true) story, funny or sad, remarkable or unremarkable, 10-minutes long, presented sort of like stand-up comedy.

Pittsburgh’s “Moth”-inspired storytelling night, “For Real For Real,” is now entering its third month, and Bonesso and PITTSBURGH MAGAZINE contributing editor Robert Isenberg are co-producers of the event. The performers, in addition to Bonesso and Isenberg, who host and perform, change with every show; there are also slots left open for volunteers from the crowd to tell a story. Bonesso says she “wants it to be very universal” in terms of the crowd; in New York, “The diversity of people was unbelievable,” she says.

Bonesso, a 2001 graduate of Duquesne University, has emerged as Pittsburgh’s premier alternative comedian—and the modifier “alternative” is important. “Club comedy is safe,” she explains, “and alternative comedy is not.” The rift in styles has become a point of contention in several cities; here, however, Bonesso identifies her shows as “alternative” as more of a caution to the crowds. “There’s no editing. If it’s weird, if it’s dark, if it’s what you don’t joke about,” that’s alternative comedy.

This month, Bonesso is headlining a comedy showcase called “Pittsburgh Alternative Comedy Exists.” The bill also features longtime local pundit John McIntire. (brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. “For Real For Real”: Tues., Jan. 5, 8 p.m. $5. “Pittsburgh Alternative Comedy Exists”: Fri., Jan. 15, 8 p.m. $5. Info: 412/621-4900,

Squirrel Hill Nightlife

So you’ve decided to go out for a night. In Squirrel Hill. Well, I’ve lived in that particular neighborhood for the past year, and I’m sorry to inform you that you’ve made a bit of a mistake. Breakfast in Squirrel Hill, sure. Shopping, coffee, dinner, pleasant walks—all of these are good decisions. A night on the town? That’s tricky.

But, fear not. If you do find yourself so inclined, I can make some recommendations. The all-around clear choice is Silky’s Sports Bar & Grill (1731 Murray Ave. Info: 412/421-9222). Get a table downstairs and pounce if the shuffleboard table is free. There are great drink specials weeknights, too.

For open-mic night (Tuesdays), karaoke (Thursdays) and live music (Fridays and Saturdays), head over to Forward Avenue and check out PD’s Pub (5832 Forward Ave. Info: 412/422-5027). Finally, for a quieter evening, definitely head to the Murray Avenue Grill (1720 Murray Ave. Info: 412/521-1272, There’s great beer and great food—a nice place for a long conversation.

“Best Picture” Predictions

In response to some perceived snubs last year, the Academy Awards made the bold decision that a full 10 films will receive “Best Picture” nominations starting in 2010. This means that, though we’re still weeks away from the candidates being announced, you’re really going to have to push it to see all the contenders by Oscar night. Tune in on Tues., Feb. 2, to find out who’s up for what.

Here are a few that will most likely be up for “Best Picture”: the Oprah-endorsed urban drama Precious; Peter Jackson’s deft adaptation of the novel The Lovely Bones; Carnegie Mellon University’s own Rob Marshall giving the Broadway hit Nine the big-screen treatment; Clint Eastwood’s flick Invictus, about Nelson Mandela and soccer; and the George Clooney comedy-drama Up in the Air.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment