Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chas Elstner, Brian Herberger, Dan Mahoney

Typically, I’ve been reviewing only the feature and headliner comics in this blog, because I assumed talking about the MCs would get a little redundant. When you sit at one club every week, the rotation is short, and that’s not a bad thing. As much as I have yet to meet the comic who doesn’t crave the longer stage time, being a good MC is an art unto itself. The truly naturals stand out.

Brian Herberger stands out.

His laid back energy and likeable demeanor are strengths when trying to move a crowd’s attention toward the stage. He’s like the Temple Grandin of comedy. Where some might cling to the cattle prod and actually rile up the herd, Brian gently leads them, one funny line at a time, through the chutes and gates, right up to the – ok, here’s where the analogy generally breaks down. I could reach and say he delivers the audience so the headliner can slay ‘em, but that’s just too hack, even for me. Still, I think you get my point. A good MC has to be funny, has to give the crowd whatever special attention they need to settle in for the show and keep the evening moving forward. Brian is a good MC. I’ll talk more about his material in another piece.

I have had the pleasure to see quite a few Buffalo comics here at the Comedy Club and there’s an underlying similarity that appeals to me. It’s not the plaid shirts, although I do think that’s the official uniform. It’s the pacing, the timing. The speed of life can be very place-specific, and it’s something to which I am attuned. Tonight being the first time I saw Dan Mahoney live, I would have guessed he’s been in NYC for a quick minute. The rhythm feels a little run-pause-run-stroll-run, but I don’t know that anyone other than me would have that thought. And I had it while enjoying some nice observational stuff – my view on gladiator sandals and dating is forever skewed – and a fun bit of “on purpose” language play. The audience was into his whole set, and rewarded him with well-deserved gluten-free applause. There are great Dan clips online. Go to and check out the clip Poligion.

Chas Elstner hit the stage at a very different pace. I read an online bio that informed me he had once been a clown for Ringling Brothers, and I saw that physicality immediately. For someone with no point of reference, I would suggest Chas is the perfect comedian if you enjoy the manic energy of Kevin Meaney, the amusing sound effects of Michael Winslow (but more Porntastic!) and classic joke telling. He worked the audience well, calling them out in a non-threatening way when he felt they weren’t with him. “There’s no talking to you people.” “I like this crowd. You don’t laugh at any old joke.” His body awareness is a great lesson for less experienced performers who sometimes struggle with seemingly simple tasks, like what to do with their hands. For a quick look, go to and check out a video.

While not my favorite kind of humor, Chas puts on a very fast-paced fun show. I think, this week, I just couldn’t tear myself away from the Buffalo boys.

No comments:

Post a Comment