The “It’s Sooo Up-and-Coming” comedy show, named for some Crown Heights newcomers' description of the area, takes over the 739 Franklin Bar & Lounge every other Thursday, said Khalid Rahmaan, 36, the comedian behind the bi-monthly event.
Rahmaan, who lives off Franklin Avenue and grew up in the neighborhood, has seen the change firsthand.
“I grew up eight blocks away when it was not up-and-coming," he said with a laugh. “I’m psyched that there are people moving in who are not trying to rob me. Like, they’re opening gourmet sandwich shops and not trying to rob me? I’m cool with that.”
Rahmaan has taken the stage for about two years, forcing himself to perform at open mic nights almost every night of the week for practice. He often includes jokes about gentrification in his sets, even ribbing on his own contribution to the problem.
“Is it possible to grow up in a neighborhood, move away from a neighborhood and then return to gentrify that neighborhood?” he asked during a set at the Gotham Comedy Club. “An educated black man is like a gentrification boomerang. You throw us out into the world, we spin around for a while and then BOOM! Your rent goes up.”
Rahmaan himself attended Boston University and then returned home.
In another part of his Gotham Comedy Club act he pokes fun at stylized store names in so-called up-and-coming areas.
“You can tell a neighborhood’s getting gentrified when all the new shops have names that are puns, because poor people don’t have time for wordplay, guys. I tell you what — a thrift shop in a gentrified neighborhood has a name like Aww-dacity. A thrift shop in a poor neighborhood has a name like Used Clothing. If they’re fancy, there’ll be a little sign that says ‘bedbug free.’”
Despite the name of the show, the performance at 739 Franklin Ave. won’t be exclusively about the neighborhood. Rahmaan will host a diverse group of comedians who cover a range of topics, he said.
This Thursday’s show, as with all the ‘Up-And-Coming’ shows since December, will feature about seven comedians over an hour-and-a-half, with music by DJ Mike Styles in between sets. This week’s headliner is Hadiyah Robinson, a stand-up comedian regularly featured on BET. Rahmaan himself performs, as well, doing a 10-minute set in addition to producing and promoting the show.
“I would love it if our show could be like Big Terrific [a regular Wednesday night comedy show in Williamsburg], but in Crown Heights,” Rahmaan said. “Everyone knows about it in the neighborhood and people come from other parts of Brooklyn to come and see what’s happening.”
The “It’s Sooo Up-and-Coming” Comedy Show takes place every other Thursday night at 739 Franklin Ave. at 9 p.m. The next show is set for Thursday, July 24. The show is free, but there is a one-drink minimum to support the bar, Rahmaan said.