With Steve Burr in the MC position for the weekend, a chatty Thursday night crowd seemed eager for the show. Dario Josef dropped by for a guest spot and got the laughter started admirably. Even while working some new material in preparation for the upcoming Funniest Person in Rochester contest, Dario appeared relaxed and more confident than the last time I saw him at The Comedy Club. Time spent at open mics, doing improv and running Laugh Riot Productions with partner Kevin Ricotta is paying off, as Dario is becoming more of a presence on the stage. The audience enjoyed him and the applause genuinely carried across sets with little prompting from Steve.
Still, there was anticipation in the room. Robert Kelly was in the house, and the crowd that showed up Thursday night was there for him. He did not disappoint.
I will admit, I hadn’t had a whole lot of exposure to Robert Kelly. Naturally, I have seen the Comedy Central Presents, and a guest appearance he’d made on an episode of one of my favorite failed TV shows – The Job, with Denis Leary, a longtime idol of mine. I hadn’t watched Tourgasm, because I’ve never been a huge Dane Cook fan, and so I wasn’t sure what, exactly, the night would be like.
Robert Kelly talks about stuff that guys typically find funny: food, fucking and farts. I’m not saying women don’t laugh at those things, because we do. Especially the fucking. I think, for most females, however, farts are never as amusing as they are for you boys. It could be because we’ve been socialized to hold them in until there isn’t a man within a country mile. Or to pass gas as quietly as possible, which requires some amazing clench and relax maneuvers, and still may leave us red-faced while you point and laugh for the next hour. Kelly insists everyone laughs at farts, even nuns (“Oh, Sister Catherine!”). He says girl farts sound like mice fighting, and does a really animated bit about farting in a baby’s face. Everyone laughed. The girl sitting next to me, whom I had just met, was almost in tears. I laughed, but I wasn’t exactly bowled over.
He talked about his wife: about putting a mirror under her nose when he’s on top because her cum face and dying face are pretty much the same; about her blowing him for an ice cream cone on their first date. The voice he used to represent her was shrill and annoying, like nails on a chalkboard. Just when I thought I couldn’t keep listening, he delivered a simple, smart line: “I was with my wife on Sunday at a flea market, and I was really angry, because I was with my wife on Sunday at a flea market.” It pulled me right back in. He spent a lot of time talking about fat issues, and in among the more common thoughts (fat sex, fat food games, why we can’t make green apples taste like mac and cheese), he threw out something real. “I’ve been full for 30 minutes, but the pain from my childhood is still there.” The line made me smile deep inside.
And then he did a whole segment about intimacy, how boys are taught to man up, how girls get to cry over anything (“The sun went down, Papa.”) and boys have to learn how to feel. It’s real and it’s true and it’s sad. And in Robert Kelly’s show, it’s very funny. The more I think about what I saw, the more grateful I am that I was there. There’s something very likeable about this guy, and there are plenty of laughs throughout his show. Personally, there were also those moments when the laugh settled a little deeper in my chest, stayed with me just a little longer because the truth of the joke resonated beyond its telling.
I had a busy weekend and didn’t get to spend as much time at the club as I would have liked, but in the glimpses I got between shows, after shows, I saw a really warm energy in this man. Kind to fans, funny and friendly to the staff, Robert Kelly is a comedian I will pay closer attention to in the future. If you want to check him out, his podcast, “You Know What Dude!” is available for free on iTunes. Better yet, go to riotcast.com and make a donation to help support the show. While you’re there, check out a few of the episodes with Joe DeRosa, who will be at The Comedy Club July 12th thru the 14th.
This week, I’ll catch up on some of those things I promised – the comedy class members, a piece that isn’t critique. And on Thursday, it’s Rochester’s own Jamie Lissow. If you haven’t seen him live in awhile, this will be a great weekend to get reacquainted.