By day, Ken Gross is a 61-year-old financial advisor at a major insurance firm.
But last night he was “Kenny G,” a stand-up comedian with a long career of financial knowledge to inform his act.
“We used to be the kings of New York. We had the money, we had the power, the restaurants,” Gross bellowed to the audience at Gotham Comedy Club’s “Funniest Person in Finance” competition. “It was all skimmed off your 401(k). I don’t know if anyone said thank you, so thank you!”
The crowd howls. It helps that Gotham hosted a pretty friendly audience of bankers, advisors, and hedge funders. No hecklers. During the financial crisis, this room lost bonuses, not homes. Maybe second homes.
Gross — who finished fourth in the competition — entered after taking a stand-up class at Gotham. Now he thinks he’ll continue the hobby. He’s accumulated plenty of material over 35 years. “I just think about life in finance,” he told Business Insider.
This one sure killed: “I’ve got a stock tip for you, but first I’d like to give a little shout-out to my compliance department,” Gross pauses and then launches the middle finger. Roars again from the audience. Oh man, these guys have been there.
Other jokes hit home too. One dilettante performer cracked one about how he wanted to make a “ticker” for everything in his life — for bathroom breaks, fast food consumption, and masturbation.
“My neighbourhood is very rough,” former Bank of America trader (and winner of the semi-final round) Raj Mahal said. “Half of the kids are in jail… for insider trading!”
“Miss America is Indian,” Mahal quipped in one of the more hackneyed jokes of evening. “Even that job is outsourced.”
“He’s charming-funny,” said one friend there to support Mahal.
Caliph Scott took home the grand prize, a free stand-up comedy class at Gotham. Scott won the crowd and judges over with a bit about his life across the Holland Tunnel in “Jersey Shitty.”
When his white friends hang out with him there, Scott joked, they feel safer. But: “I’m a black guy afraid of black people… We exist!”
Gross had one about how if Washington would get off Wall Street’s back, the subsequent hiring of strippers and prostitutes would help boost job growth. And there was, importantly, a great “liquidity crisis” poop joke. You can use your imagination.