Food & Drink

Cheap booze and laughs at Midtown comedy house

As far as projects go, "fixing up the spare room" is about as likely to be completed as "landing on Mars", as it typically terminates in a dusty lumber stack and that bean bag you tried to have sex on in high school. Actually pulling it off, The Vortex, with Laughing Skull Lounge

For years a nameless, underused side space, Laughing Skull has been renovated into an intimate, 74-seat comedy club, with fresh painted red walls, new flooring, metallic stools, and a restructured VIP table setup, plus a reconditioned stage with overhauled sound, and red curtains topped by a plastic skeleton. The Skull's run by the Funny Farm owner, whose connects are quickly bringing in the top tier of comics still forced to play clubs: Todd Barry (The Wrestler, The Larry Sanders Show), Donnell Rawlings (Chappelle's Show, D.L. Hughley Breaks The News), Maria Bamford (one of Variety's Top 10 Comics to Watch), and Emo Philips, who Leno once called "the best joke writer in America" (yet failed to praise his cameo in UHF? You're one picky bastard, Leno). No food's served inside (patrons can grub next door), but there's plenty of cheap booze ($4 Bud, $5 wine, and $6 liqs), making the 2-drink minimum more of an insult than a requirement

This weekend's talent is Rick Overton (The Office), plus Saturday at 2pm there's a free-admission taping of a comic-centric documentary -- so once again, there's no possible way you could find time to build that bar...