Sunday, February 1, 2009

Comedy at the Brewery -- A Mixed Review

So last night we took in a comedy show at the Brewery Exchange...It was $15 for two hours' worth of laughs (or, in some cases, groans) and the next go-around will be Saturday, February 21 at 8 p.m.

There were four amateur (and very amateur-ish) comedians, in addition to the host, in the run-up to the headliner, Steve Bjork. For the most part, the *opening sets* weren't great, and some of the jokes that landed with a thud were only made worse by the comedians' responses to their jokes bombing. (Ooohhh, I guess you guys didn't get that're going to have to look that one up on Google at home, and then you'll be like, 'Ohh...that's what he meant').

Note to anyone thinking about performing stand-up: Don't constantly make real-time references to how well or how poorly your jokes are being received by the audience. If you'll notice, none of the greats do that in their performances. It's not by accident.

Among the not-so memorable lines last night were Sam Rodriguez' "What's the deal with this cold weather? I thought there was global warming" which he tried to then follow up with a strained connection between the winter weather and the idea that perhaps it was indeed the "cold day in hell" that white Americans swore would happen before they'd *let* a non-white person win the Presidency. Besides not really making any sense or being particularly funny, that joke especially didn't work in front of an audience made up almost entirely of white people who had presumably voted for Obama. Accordingly, their displeasure was made known.

Rick Cormier's amusing brand of vulgarity was a bit of a bright spot. His presentation was good, his set-ups were well done, and he seemed to have a knack for *going there* time and again after you thought he might've been headed somewhere else.

Another one of the comics had a frat-boy style humor that worked a bit at times (one good gag was about how a guy in Seattle was photographed cross-country skiing to work, thereby 'ruining it' for all his co-workers who planned to use the blizzard as an excuse for a 'snow day'). Unfortunately, he took the "Steve from Accounting" line here and dragged it out for about 5 minutes, which was about 4:30 longer than it was funny.

The best comic of the night, in terms of content, delivery, and performance, was definitely Steve Bjork. As the headliner, that might be expected -- you could tell he had been in plenty more performances than most of the others had, and it showed in the smoothness of his delivery. He had some funny scenes he painted about social conventions (the idea of facing 'the wrong way' in a crowded elevator was great), he did the stock marriage humor stuff but pulled it off okay, and moved around well between topics without notes or other obvious cues. One disappointment for me was his "If men had breasts, nothing would ever get done..." bit, which was funny the first time I had ever heard junior high school. I honestly would've preferred a 'toilet seat up' or 'airline food' joke in its stead. In the end, Bjork redeemed himself from that by showing his flexibility and spontaneity, wonderfully tearing apart a guy who was calling a cab on his cell phone DURING THE PERFORMANCE and being so loud that everyone there, including Mr. Bjork, could hear the guy's address being given over the phone.

Bottom Line: If you are a fan of comedy in and of itself, I think this show is worth going to. Compared to the cost of a movie, a Devils game, two games of bowling, or just about anything else you might do in the fifteen-dollar neighborhood, I'd even say it's *worth it,* esp. if you're with people who understand your real entertainment for the night might come from laughing at -- not necessarily with -- some of the talent on stage.

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