In conversation with the hosts of ‘The Best Damn Comedy Show in Asbury Park,’ Power Bottom

"It’s a regular monthly thing you can count on and you’re seeing people (comics) before they blow up. It’s like a whole little secret, special thing. There’s people that see that green and pink flyer out on a pole with all the other stickers and dirtiness. Some people are like, “I’m not into that, that’s not for me,” but then there are people that are like “Oh shit, I’ve gotta check that out!”

‘Cheap, aggressive, and wildly entertaining’—certainly an ideal Tinder bio to come across, or, in this instance, a fitting description for our new favorite comedy show: Power Bottom. The brainchild of comedian Allie Mae, and developed with support from co-host/producer Joe McAndrew, this is an event you’ll wish you knew about a long time ago. 

Every last Thursday of the month, Mae and McAndrew provide audiences with an evening of unadulterated and ungovernable comedy via a lineup that features the best up-and-coming comics in the greater NJ area. Believe us, “up-and-coming” is no misnomer here: you’re going to see some really funny people before they blow up – that includes the hosts. As for the headliners? Bonnie McFarlane, Chris Gethard, Ian Lara, just to name a few (you should know these people). Every month is another heavy hitter with credits that would impress even the casual stand-up fan. 

In addition to the unparalleled talent on display, perhaps what really sets this show apart from the rest is that practically anyone can afford to go see it. As the cost of living continues to climb in shore towns all along the Jersey coast (statewide, really), it’s been a pleasure to encounter so many people striving to provide accessible experiences, food/drink or services to folks of all means—Mae and McAndrew are yet another remarkable example of this. 

Do you have $30 to your name? If so, you, too, can have a night out in Asbury Park—eat, drink, laugh your ass off—and probably still make it home with a couple dollars in your pocket. The cost of a ticket to Power Bottom is just $10, and the food/drink menu offers some specials that are insanely reasonable. $3 beers? That’s ideal no matter where you’re drinking.

At the show we attended in August, the headlining comic (Paterson, NJ native; legend) Rich Vos jokingly remarked in his set that performing at Power Bottom was like telling jokes in a “bomb shelter.” Kinda harsh, but he wasn’t totally off the mark. Bond Street Bar is one of, if not the only, true dive in Asbury Park; and its basement is more or less an extension of the upstairs. Maybe a little rough around the edges for some, but if you love dive bars (we do) or pine for the days of cheaper drinks/food and a bar playlist that isn’t shit: it’s something of a haven. Power Bottom could be a success in a lot of venues but we’d argue that Bond Street actually enhances the experience and complements the show’s punk rock ethos in a way that no other place in town could – a perfect fit. 

Last month, NJ Indy had a chance to sit down with Allie Mae and Joe McAndrew to discuss that ethos at length and explore what makes Power Bottom a New Jersey treasure.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did Power Bottom come to be?

Joe McAndrew: 1000% because of Allie. She wanted to start a show. She already had a couple, like “Laughs on Tap,” where she was going to craft breweries and putting on shows… this was at the tail end of the pandemic. I had run a show prior to the pandemic called “HAGS” at the Saint, and that was running for four years. So, we just decided to run one together. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s like a very punk rock, off-script, do-whatever-we-want type of show.

How difficult has it been putting the show together each month?

Allie Mae: We actually put a lot of work into selling it out. Every month we’re out there freezing cold, like, can’t feel our fingers, hanging flyers. And we don’t make a lot of money on it at all because we’re paying everyone ourselves. We are paying the headliner, all the opening comics, we pay the door person that checks everybody in. I mean, some shows we make a little bit more, but this last show in particular, it was less because we did a Cyber Monday sale—50% off tickets.

When I started Power Bottom, I did the first one without Joe and then the second one, from there forward, we did it together. At the time I was thinking, “What’s cool?  What’s different?” Then I came up with things like giving away $69 at every show. Like, who else is doing that, you know? And Joe was like, “That’s a lot of money to give away. What if you don’t take in that money?” Yeah, it is scary to guarantee that you’ll give away money, and it’s scary to put on a comedy show in general because you don’t know if you’ll sell all the tickets. But I always want to put myself in a position where it’s going to be like, sink or swim, and I just can’t sink.

Why Bond Street?

JM: Allie secured the spot. She’s the more professional side of things. And I am more of the, uh, I don’t know, “Let’s draw a dick on a flyer and see how many people come out,” side of things. So we would not have success without her, 1000%. She wanted the right location… big enough to fit like 100 people. She set up everything. I had reached out prior to Wonderbar, I reached out to Biergarten, I was toying with the idea of The Saint but I had already run this other show there for four years, and I just didn’t want it to be like, you know, essentially the same [show]. So, yeah, Biergarten, Wonder Bar, Iron Whale, even the Stone Pony—but they were expecting over 150 people so that didn’t really seem like the right fit.

The flow of Power Bottom is unlike any show I’ve been to: it proceeds like it’s being shot out of a cannon. The night I went, Allie opened and her set more or less started with a joke about rape… and, despite some pearl-clutching, it killed. There was no tip-toeing around any issues, no forbidden subjects, no easing into the lineup with some less-proven or green comics; it was just full speed ahead from the jump.

AM: Well, what I’m trying to do is get right into it and completely break the audience. I’m trying to let them know we are not at church, we are not in the conference room at your stupid job. Like, we are gonna press on the weird stuff that sits in the dark corners of your mind… and we’re gonna have fun. I frequently start with that joke or I’ll tell it early on in the set. I talk about Asbury being a gay town and I talk about how I’m bisexual, right? I say, “You know, telling men I’m bisexual, the response is always the same—they always get excited about it. But, sometimes if you tell a woman that you’re bisexual they start getting this tense energy, like something bad’s gonna happen.” Then I’m like, “Relax,  I’m not gonna rape you. I’m thinking about it, but I’m not gonna do it. I have manners, and a warrant, so my hands are tied. I wish they were yours, but here we are.” And people are like, “Oh my god, are you talking about raping me right now?” And it’s like, “Yes, yes I am.”

Do you open/host every show?

AM: Joe and I take turns. Sometimes it’s not exact, it’s not like, “I did the last one, now you have to do this one or whatever.” Sometimes people just really don’t want to host, to be honest. Sometimes I don’t wanna host, you know? Sometimes I want Joe to do it, especially if we don’t have a lot of girls on the lineup. Or let’s say, like, last night, my show at The Stand (NYC). I was the only girl on the lineup and so I asked the guy I did the show with, “Who’s hosting tonight? Do you wanna host or me?” And then I let him know that I don’t care because I don’t want him to feel like he has to do it, you know? He goes, “Would you mind taking this one?” And it’s like, I don’t mind, but I was the only girl, so then it became, “I present to you all: a night of men! They are so talented and so white!” Haha. So, I would have appreciated it if the other guy hosted because it would have been a way to mix up the energy instead of just having dude after dude go up. But I don’t really care, and I’m not mad at him or anything like that. 

When was the first show?  

AM: June 23 (2021).  

JM: Oh yeah, that first Power Bottom. After the show, this girl and guy got caught trying to fuck in the bathroom… the Bond Street basement bathroom with the huge doors and black lights. Haha.

How has working together gone since then?

AM: I hired Joe as a host at first. I wanted to start the show with him, but he thought we would probably kill each other if we started a show together. And it’s true, we almost have killed each other many times. 

Joe had the OG Asbury show, “HAGS,” which was at The Saint. It was really, really funny. Like when I started comedy, I looked up to Joe; I was like, “Oh my god, guide me!” You know what I mean? So when I first started he was, you know, someone that I looked up to and when I first started my “Laughs on Tap” show, I didn’t really know what I was doing, to be honest. I didn’t really know how to build my own lineup. And I would ask Joe like, “Who should I put on this?” I’ve always had the organizational skills and the ability to build relationships with people and promote and stuff like that. But, you know, I had to really learn how to build a lineup.

At the end of the day, I could not do this without him. Joe is easygoing and maybe more level-headed. I can kind of get stressed about the behind the scenes details and he’ll be like, “It’s gonna be fine.” Although, sometimes when he’s saying it’s gonna be fine, I’m like, “No, it’s not,” but it always is. So we balance each other out because there’s times he takes things too easy and sometimes I take things too seriously. But it meets in the middle so that we approach [the show] in just the right way.

What do you think Power Bottom means to Asbury Park?

JM: So, I am pretty reserved with complimenting myself or complimenting anything I’m associated with—I try to be realistic about certain things… but I just feel strongly about this show. I didn’t really get to go to the old Asbury Lanes when it was around. I only got to see one great show and then we all know what happened. I feel like Power Bottom, at Bond Street, is kind of today’s equivalent of the Lanes. It’s very… I don’t wanna say it’s a free-for-all, but it’s like, there’s a $69 prize, we’re talking about dicks, or anal, or anything we want. We are doing what we want to do. It’s a regular monthly thing you can count on and you’re seeing people (comics) before they blow up. It’s like a whole little secret, special thing. There’s people that see that green and pink flyer out on a pole with all the other stickers and dirtiness. Some people are like, “I’m not into that, that’s not for me,” but then there are people that are like “Oh shit, I’ve gotta check that out!” And then you’ll see them come back every month. 

This cool thing we have, most people outside of Asbury or Monmouth County may not know about it. So, to me, it has that feel of the old Lanes because now people “in the know” will say, “Oh, you don’t know about Power Bottom? You don’t know about this cool thing?” There’s nothing else like it around. I mean, you have Shore Style Punk Night, which is awesome, but other than that it’s just our thing, and I’m super confident in that aspect of it. 

AM: I think you understand what our vibe is. It is punk. That’s why it’s like… I want something that someone who [is broke] can come to… because, fuck what is happening to Asbury Park—everything’s so expensive! Even something like a punk rock flea market you gotta pay like, what is it, five bucks? 10 bucks? Something like that. You’re paying to go shopping. What sense does that make? Listen, if they were not charging the people who are making the crafts or whatever a table fee, then I would happily pay the $5 or $10. But they are! They are charging the person to table, and they’re charging me to come look at the table.

Do you think Power Bottom is in its final form or are there things you’d like to change? For example, as popularity continues to grow, do you think things like cost, format, frequency and venue will ever need to be addressed? 

JM: It’s something that we’ve talked about, but I don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen or that we’ll change anything. 

AM: Ideally I’d want to keep doing it exactly the way it is. I’m never gonna make it more expensive, I don’t give a fuck. We put on a better show at Power Bottom than anyone else in town. [Other places] put on bullshit shows for $40, and they’re not even real comics, they’re writers for SNL and stuff. Maybe they started out doing stand-up, but they don’t do it regularly and now their wheelhouse truly is writing. That show’s gonna suck and it’s $40. So, it’s like, “Fuck you, we’re doing it for $10, it’s gonna be cool and I’m not gonna make any money on it and I don’t give a fuck.” Anybody can come to this show, but at the end of the day, what I wanted to do was put out something for blue collar people or people who may not make a lot of money to go out and have a good time. Look, $10 for the ticket, $5 for the bar pie, $3 for the beer, if you tip 20% on the nose on $18, that’s $3.60. So, for like $22 you can go have a night out and see somebody from Comedy Central. And you can also walk out with $69 cash, or if not the $69 prize, you can walk out with a $25 gift card to Mutiny BBQ or you can walk out with THC goodies from The Green Room.

Who are some comics that people should keep an eye out for in Jersey, especially those that have featured or may go up in the future at Power Bottom?

JM: Vin Brue, Waldo Maldonado, Tyler Langlois, Shawn Gardini, Ryan Barry, Kate Nichols, Franco Danger, Nick Fierro, Colin Armstrong, Keegan Tindall, Andy Malafarina, Nate Marshall, Alex Nicholas, Ryan Rummel, Angela Sharp, Vishnu Vaka, Taj Osorio, Danny Braff, Jordan Manglona, Danish Maqbool, Angelo Gingerelli, Gabby Bryan, Brian St. John and Justin Williams! I’m sorry if I forgot anyone but my Venmo is Joemcshutup and if you want to be shouted out next time then PAY UP!