Thursday, October 25, 2012


Wow, I'm behind.

Rich Vos. Doug Stanhope. Eddie Griffin. Dubland. Rob's Playhouse with Dave Dyer. O'Comedy at O'Connells'.

I have been seeing an incredible amount of comedy in the past few months. There was a stretch there where I was at a live comedy show 17 nights out of 24, two of which involved two different venues and multiple comics. In my real life, my after school program kicked in, my spouse is home but we are separated, my side contracts are moving at hyperspeed and I am going so fast so often, that I have just not been writing anything that wasn't mandated or attached to a paycheck.

I am tired, people.


And yet, there's much to say about all of the acts mentioned above, and those who keep stepping onstage at The Comedy Club, Rob's, DubLand, The Space and other venues in this little corner of the world. I personally committed to telling you about them, trying to win you over, trying to get you to go spend your limited free time and money supporting something that literally can improve your physical and mental health. Laughter is an amazing tonic, a miracle elixir that soothes souls, warms hearts and builds bonds between people. Even if the jokes are dark, angry, or merely stupid, laughter is an essential ingredient in my happiness gumbo. I use it instead of okra - it's a texture thing.

Still, despite all the great comedy I've been seeing, I am tired.

I haven't been able to devote the time and care to this site that I mean to, that I want to, that I remain fully committed to.

So, I've taken a breather. It's almost over - I can see light ahead.

Tonight, I'll be seeing Tom Simmons at the club, and then, when I get home, I promise I'll sit down and write. I've started Rich Vos - I just want to do him justice, because the experience this time was so different than when he came to town at the beginning of the year. I'm excited to tell you about him. I'm excited to tell you that Doug Stanhope was so not what I expected that I am actually nervous about writing the review. I want you all to know that Rob's Playhouse is a good room for comedy and worth the trek to Buffalo. You need to know about O'Connell's, too, and not just because it's a great venue for an open mic. The food is awesome and the atmosphere is quite lovely. As a product of a dry house and a dry town, I think Dub Land could become the first bar I've ever enjoyed hanging at. And wait 'til I tell you how good Zack Johnson was mcing for Eddie Griffin, and how interesting it was to sit through Eddie back-to-back, as the champagne flowed and the room got rowdier.

I haven't been slacking on comedy. I've just not been sharing much. I've been spending more time in my real life and catching a few more hours' sleep, when I meant to be paying tribute to the jokes and jokesters that make it all a little easier to handle.

But, after tonight's show, I'll get back on track. I promise.

Hopefully, you will all still be here, reading and maybe even getting a little joy for yourself from my insights. If not, I hope you're out supporting live comedy in your community.

Talk to you in a bit.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

10/4/12 Marc Unger, Austin Lafond, Mike Gifaldi and Josh Potter

One of the greatest philosophers of my childhood, Charles M. Schultz, was able to use my favorite round-headed kid and his beagle to help me digest some very important concepts. I understood that unrequited love could ruin the taste of a good pb & j sandwich, that it was cool to have a rich fantasy life, that everyone had something to feel insecure about and that hope could always rise again, even in the most depressed of spirits. Charlie Brown was one depressed little guy. “Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night.'" No matter how many nickels he put in Lucy’s tin can, there seemed to be no cure for what ailed him.

 Depression, like ADD and OCD, seems to be fairly common among stand up comics, although it’s still a chicken/egg question: Do depressed people use laughter to try to heal themselves, thus leaning toward comedy, or does the life of a road dog comic, with its hours of loneliness, constant travel, tight finances and interrupted intimacy, lead to depression? I have yet to hear a definitive answer. And on this Thursday night, it didn’t seem to matter. The whole room felt depressed. The audience was quietly eating, politely focused but not seemingly eager to laugh when Josh Potter took the stage to start the show. Austin Lafond delivered his set, but couldn’t get more than a chuckle or two from the group.

 Mike Gifaldi had a bit more success. As one of my favorite local comics, I watch him nearly every week at DubLand, and always enjoy a chance to see him at The Comedy Club. I like Mike because he’s sorta’ the opposite side of my coin. He’s all tattoos and metal, irony and darkness on the outside, and a generally nice guy on the inside. The thoughts he shares onstage are not for everyone, but tonight’s crowd seemed willing to go with him. He started by telling them he’s always nervous when he goes onstage, that “the voice in my head usually convinces me I'm going to be fine, which settles my nerves, but today I realized it’s the same voice that tells me I'm going to pull out in time.”  His jokes flow from the homeless dude who never begged from him to being bit by a feral child living in the local WalMart; from his “Charlie Brown with a drug problem” hair style to his actress girlfriend who said he never helped her become a star (I lit her on fire and shot her into space.). I enjoy guessing how Mike will go over in a particular room. Tonight, although the group initially seems unsure if laughter is even part of the program, they loosen up and laugh a little.

 Which is perfect, because the experience they’re about to have with Marc Unger is, for me, nothing short of spectacular.

Marc gets on the audience immediately: we don’t like anything, we were sitting at home, then we were clubbed over the head and suddenly found ourselves in an airplane hanger listening to Josh’s depression. In one fell swoop, he knocks the audience, the room and the MC, and I know I’m in for a fun night. First, we learn about Marc’s marriage to a beautiful 27-year-old special needs teacher (“My twelve-year-old autistic student tied his shoes for the first time today. How was your day?” “I watched six episodes of ‘Myth Busters.’”) and the issues that come up between two people looking at each other across two decades. “She’s 27, she loves sex. I’m 47. I love the History Channel." She steps out of the shower, glistening and ready for a romp; he’s glued to “American Pickers,” wondering if they’re going to buy the Shell Oil sign.  She wants kids, he thinks he hates them. The jokes are at once personal and universal.

Marc covers a lot of territory in this set. He leads us through drug legalization for seniors (If you make it to 65, all drugs should be legal. If you’ve raised kids and they leave you in a nursing home, every night should be Bingo and Blow night at Happy Acres.), the future of reality tv (Last Sad Guy Standing: get 8 really depressed people together in a house, each with a weapon, and America tries to text them into committing suicide) and the ignorance still alive in the good ol’ USA (You’ll never hear checkmate in Shreveport, but you might hear “I ain’t playin’ with those colored pieces.”) His political bits about Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and Anthony Scalia (so far right, he thinks Thomas is only 3/5 of a Judge) are smart and funny, without proselytizing. Some of the wittiest lines fly by so fast, I barely have time to scribble them in my notebook.

And yet, there is real depth to this material. “The way we get news, on our homepage, it’s all vomited together on the screen. We don’t know what’s important.” It IS both sad and funny that Snooki’s baby was #1 on Yahoo Trend, while a potentially planet-destroying asteroid was #5. It is a little abnormal that we can use the word friend to describe someone we’ve only met on Facebook (A friend helps you bury the hooker when you kinda’ fucked up, not send you a Star Trek quiz at 3 am.). Marc’s current show is great. Fortunately, you can find a good portion of it on his CD, “Dirty Truth,” available on iTunes, at amazonmp3 or in stores on December 6th. At, you can learn more about the other elements of his performance career: his acting and writing projects, his blog and radio show. 

Now, let’s get to the personal stuff, since it’s obvious to regular readers what I’m about to say.

I dig this guy.

 Marc Unger’s web site bio describes his humor as “fresh, edgy and brutally thoughtful,” and I can’t argue with that. It continues, “Armed with dynamic stage presence, his explosive rants … are not only powerfully funny, but provocative as well.” Again I agree, but for one thing. While his presence is certainly dynamic, I never felt like I was listening to an explosive rant, not in the way I’m used to. That description led me to believe I’d be hearing a delivery similar to Leary or Hicks, maybe even a Kinison rage. It could be that Marc toned it down a bit, given the somber beginnings of the evening. I should have asked when he graciously sat for awhile in the back booth and discussed his comedy with me; because I hadn’t prepared by doing any homework, I didn’t realize I’d feel this way until Friday, when I checked out his net presence.  Now it’s like I’ve somehow missed out on great opportunities because I didn’t know Marc Unger sooner. I would have gone to see his one-man show “Drinking Up the Pieces,” or any of the older ones (Nocturnal Emissions, Mindblanking). I would have watched the “Friends” and “Veep” episodes on which he appeared; actually, that’s one I can remedy, so I will watch those. How do I see “The Filchaks Take a Gamble,” which I’m sure I’d enjoy both as a new fan and as a fantasy football fanatic? I need more of Marc Unger.

“Drinking Up the Pieces” is about Marc’s two-year struggle with depression; he made a few references to depression throughout the show.  I have worked in and around the mental health community for years. I’ve had relatives, a spouse and close friends who have dealt with varying levels of depression, and went a few rounds with it myself over my lifetime. Talking to Marc one-on-one, I never got that feeling, that little drag that usually signals to me that I’m dealing with someone who’s dealing with something. He was funny, but not “on.” He was insightful. He was helpful. He struck me as an artist who knows himself, who has figured out several ways to express his understanding, and knows how to bring others along for the journey. The audience was grateful for that skill, and rewarded him with applause. I was grateful and hopefully can reward him by sending other people in search of his work.  

I took an entire week to write this review because I didn’t know how to start. Flipping back and forth through my notebook, Mike’s Charlie Brown reference kept drawing my eye. So I searched Charlie Brown and depression, and found a number of strips that spoke to me. Here’s the one I want to end on. “When you're depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you'll start to feel better. If you're going to get any joy out of being depressed, you've got to stand like this.” The drawing shows Charlie Brown slouching, shoulders dropped, head down. It’s the same position most of the audience started in on this particular Thursday night. But Marc Unger gave them a reason to lift their heads, straighten their shoulders and laugh.

"Laugh at yourself and at life. Not in the spirit of derision or whining self-pity, but as a remedy, a miracle drug, that will ease your pain, cure your depression, and help you to put in perspective that seemingly terrible defeat and worry with laughter at your predicaments, thus freeing your mind to think clearly toward the solution that is certain to come. Never take yourself too seriously." - Og Mandino, psychologist and essayist

Friday, October 5, 2012

9/27/12 Bobby Slayton, Dario Josef and Chet Wild

Dario and Chet both had short, but laugh-filled spots. Since I've said a lot about Dario lately, I'll say it was nice seeing Chet have an opportunity to do something other than host, even though he's a great MC. With most of his summer devoted to running the Funniest Person in Rochester contest, it was fun to hear him just tell jokes.

All too soon, it was time for the headliner, Bobby Slayton.

Twenty years ago, I laughed at a lot of Bobby's material. This night, not so much.

But many other people did, so - there's that.

I can't love 'em all, but that doesn't mean you can't love the ones I don't.

You can find plenty of Bobby Slayton on YouTube, at and a million other places. You can only find me here, so - there's that.


9/20/12 Dan Viola, Tim Almeter and Dewey Lovett

With a pretty full room for a Thursday night, Steve Burr MCing and Tim Almeter doing a spot, I was looking forward to seeing my friend Dan Viola headline.

We all know I sometimes have a hard time reviewing my friends, comics whom I know on a deeper level, comics with whom I’ve shared more than a show, and Dan is one of those people. We share that Tiny Glover connection, which never leaves my heart and has led me to some of the coolest people in my current sphere of influence. It’s an obvious bias with me that, if I like you as a person, I generally enjoy you more as a comic. If you’re an asshole, you better have damn good material – and, fortunately, many of you do! Dan is not an asshole; he’s a family man, a clean comic and someone I’ve enjoyed seeing come back to the stage.

Before I get to Dan, however, let me say that Tim Almeter is quickly becoming someone I’ll be writing about too often; in a world where so many variables have to come together to make a great show, Tim is X, the variable we’re always looking for. For a relative newcomer, he has a wealth of material that seems to hit more than miss. His fast delivery is an extension of his fast thinking, so he can change gears when a particular joke doesn’t seem to be connecting. He CAN change gears – he doesn’t always choose to. Trusting your own voice is an ongoing battle for any artist. I’ve said before that I admire Tim’s fearlessness; the stubbornness will prove to be an asset in a career that depends so much on opinion. That, and the fact that he cracks people up.

I also wanted to talk about Dewey Lovett, even though she did her guest sets on Saturday night. Apparently, I missed the most incredible show of the weekend, the Saturday early show, which all the comics agreed was amazing. I was a little surprised to hear that when I saw not one, but two bachelorette parties exiting the room. The second show was a little more laugh resistant. While sometimes the right move may be to ignore the crowd altogether and deliver your set as planned, Dewey used her improv experience to move through her bits and push the audience to react. In this, her petite frame and youthful voice were assets. No one could take offense when Dewey was sharing her glow bracelets with the heartbroken recently-single chick, or when she was questioning the short attention span men have while at the urinal. Her designated slut routine (He pulled me real close and said, “My pancakes come with sausage.” I was really thinking about breakfast, though, and said “I’m really more of a bacon girl.”) is a thing of beauty. I look forward to bringing you future tales of Dewey as she spends more time on The Comedy Club stage.

Now, on to Dan Viola.

Much of Dan’s material is centered on his family life, shared with a wife and seven children, and his experiences spending fifteen years as a public school teacher. His first big piece is about wishing he were bilingual, so he could have been more romantic on his wedding night. He runs through some lovely lines in the lilting sounds of Italian and French, then hits us with the “harsh, cacophonous and intimidating” sounds of German. His Deutschland Barney is a crowd-pleaser, and I admire anyone using the word cacophonous properly these days. Tonight there happened to be a girl from Germany in the audience, which was discovered only after Dan had goose-stepped his way across the stage. Everyone enjoyed the awkwardness as Dan and the girl exchanged a few sentences. He then quipped, “I asked, what’s for lunch? She said, I want to take over your country. So you’re a spy - I saw Captain America.”

He moves on to talk about his younger brother going back to college (Dual major in gynecology and jedi master – he’s going to be an ob/gyn kenobi) and does his bit about Acronym Based Content 101, or ABC1 for short. It’s the first of several fast-paced, dense jokes that require the listener to pay sharp attention, and it’s a style I really enjoy. Later, he’ll do bits about bathroom stall correction notes at Harvard and a fire-and-brimstone preacher teaching Biochemistry (Hallelujah, can I get an amino?) in the same speed-demon delivery. They all kill me.

Continuing on with jokes for local folks all about life in Hilton (at Prom time, all the good overalls are at the cleaner’s), a rant about today’s kids (even if you have smart kids, they have dumb friends) and their inability to get even the simplest order (black coffee! How do you screw that up?) right at Tim Horton’s, and he and his wife’s inability to get even the simplest concept (birth control! How do you screw that up?) right at home. He wraps up the show with his now-classic examination of Winnie-the-Pooh as seen through our current medication-fueled analysis (Owl is dyslexic and delusional. Eyeore? Depressed.) and earns a generous round of applause from the audience.

I try to  imagine what it must be like to be a student of Dan Viola’s; on this, and most nights he performs locally, I can get first-hand anecdotes from former students and team members as they stand in line, eager to shake his hand and share a memory or two. If you’re a fan of clean comedy, seek out one of Dan’s shows. He does a lot of fundraisers, so odds are you can enjoy a night of live comedy and help a great cause at the same time.

Next week, Bobby Slayton.

10/4/12 After Bedtime Addendum

While passing and receiving "attaboys" from the After Bedtime crew, I read the following post from Bryan J. Ball:  I got a great mention! Printing it and putting it on my happy wall!

At first, I thought that was just sarcastic ball-busting, as I hadn't mentioned him at all. Because his name was nowhere in my meticulous notes. And I had no recall of his being onstage.

So, let me fix this. Bryan J. Ball and Mikey Heller joined Kevin Ricotta in doing "Staff Revelations," one of my favorite pieces in the show because a) I know everyone they are talking about, b) even an audience of friends and family enjoy feeling like "insiders" and c) the jokes were hilarious. I stand by the fact that I took no actual notes during that bit because a) my lizard keychain light flashes like a mini-disco and wasn't a good choice in assisting my limited vision, b) I was so into what I was seeing/hearing that I couldn't drag my brain to the paper and c) it isn't only penis-based creatures who love Dewey Lovett.

So, my apologies to Bryan and Mikey. You'll learn more about them here in the future. Mikey won me over at an open mic night by referencing Othello and All About Steve in the same 6 minutes. In my brain, that's a great Saturday afternoon double feature. Again, guys, sorry for the miss.

And, Bryan, I hope there's still space on your happy wall.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

9/14/12 After Bedtime with Jimmy LeChase and Friends

Watching the birth of a creative endeavor can bring about all sorts of feelings in the observer, ranging from jealousy (wish I had thought of/was a part of that) to concern (it looks a little oxygen-deprived. is everything ok?) to utter delight (God, how beautiful! how precious!) or anywhere else on the current emotional map of the masses. I’ve felt all of those and more while watching friends debut their latest dance, sonnet, concerto or canvas. Sometimes I am so breathtakingly in awe of what I’m seeing that I forget for the moment that I, too, am an artist and have been through this process; I know that whatever pain it took to get that piece here will soon be forgotten in the sheer delight of its existence.
That’s a strange way to begin discussing the brainchild of a newlywed father of none, yet I feel the parallel is apt. Having a creative idea is not that novel – people have them every day by the dozens. There are incredible sketches, statues, stories and songs existing in the minds of your neighbors, your fellow travelers, every second, and I personally can’t wait for the day we can experience them telepathically. Until then, however, bringing the idea to fruition remains the responsibility of the artist; many of us struggle, not all of us succeed.

After Bedtime is a success story. Delivery complete, ten fingers, ten toes. Now all that’s left to do is raise this baby and abort this analogy.

Kevin Ricotta began the first show by warming up the audience and preparing us for what was to come. I love Kevin. He’s just got one of those soothing personalities that make you think everything’s ok if he’s on your side. While I admit that some of his jokes continue to puzzle me – I am the odd woman out when it comes to Charles Horses – his claim to the merchandising rights on “gravy boats and pool floats” cracked me up.

 It was obvious by his nervous energy that this project is important to Jimmy LeChase. When someone I’ve seen stand confidently in place and tell even underdeveloped jokes turns in circles, drops his head and delivers punch lines toward the wall, it’s because this show matters. But saying this was a live theater event that we’ll be embarrassed about tomorrow was completely off the mark. Cue cards and teleprompters exist, not just to help people remember lines, but to force them to look at the audience, the camera. I have no doubt Jimmy will grow more comfortable with his monologue with every new episode.

Vasia Ivanov and Mike Gifaldi’s debate to be Jimmy’s best friend was possibly the wittiest one I’ll see all year. Despite the passing of time, it’s still easy to make a bad Roman Polanski joke and, given the current kitten stranglehold on comedy, you never know who’s gonna’ go mad over mistreatment of the cuddly critters, but these two guys were hilarious. One being my favorite misanthropic curmudgeon and the other being someone I’d never seen until tonight, I really enjoyed this bit. By audience applause, Mike won.

When Austin Lafond, representative for sponsor Silent but Deadly, Inc., was introduced as Doctor Science, I giggled out loud at what I thought was a very clever throwback to Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater’s “Ask Doctor Science.” A comedy team from the mid ‘70s who brought sketch to NPR in the early ‘80s and were responsible for one of my true comedy heroes (Ian Shoales, the alter ego of Merle Kessler), their Doctor Science bits became popular enough to have a one-season run on Fox in 1987. I was delighted to think, for just a moment, that someone shared this reference. Turns out, Nate Clark just has a knack for the obvious when pressured to think up last-minute character names. Still, I’ll never think about Agent Orange, Strawberry, Chocolate and Bubble Gum the same way again.

Crowley was a great first guest, sharing stories about growing up in Alaska and dealing with drunk callers to the radio show. I think the audience felt a sense of pride when he pronounced, “the crowd is learn-ed” in response to one of his references. Jimmy seemed much more relaxed once he got behind the desk, which is what you want in a talk show host, right? Hand awareness, something many performers struggle with onstage, will come. I think many of the guys in this crew, enamored of or enslaved by their own beards, tend to put their hands on their face more frequently than they realize. No big deal when you’re practicing your Freud/pedophile look, but a hindrance when the camera is directly in front of you and the audience can’t control your volume.

 Rounding out the rest of the show, Rick Matthews was a good choice as the first stand up guest, and delivered accordingly; “Staff Revelations” was a great addition; Dewey Lovett’s Don’t Give a Fuck commercial (sorry, Dewey! I was enjoying you so much, I forgot to write the actual product name in my notes) was great; and I’m still a bit disappointed we never got to Nate Clark’s bit, although the costume was funny enough to make me hope it makes it to episode two.

 Of course, there will and should be a second episode, and many more after that until Jimmy’s ADD kicks in or everyone moves on to their own creative endeavors. After Bedtime is a good idea well-executed. I’m sorry I won’t make the second show (prior promise), but excited to know I’ll be able to catch it on YouTube. The rest of Rochester should hasten to The Space (1115 E. Main St, the Hungerford Bldg, door 2, floor 2) on Saturday, October 6th at 6:30 pm, and spend the best $5 of their weekend enjoying the growing pains of After Bedtime with Jimmy LeChase. Sorry, I meant to stop with the whole birth/baby thing, but I’m obviously ovulating for absolutely no reason at this point in my life and just couldn’t let it go.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

9/13/12 Ben Bailey, Tim Almeter and Dario Josef

I hadn’t yet rounded the final bend in the road that kept me from seeing The Comedy Club, but I worried. Summer was almost over, and things were starting to pick back up. Would this be the night? Would Ben Bailey, the comic, be a huge draw? Would Ben Bailey, host of tv’s “Cash Cab,” bring in a crowd?  I had my answer soon enough when I found myself parked on the far side of the pizza parlor next door. The lot was full, the tables were full; Ben Bailey was the man. A weekend of good shows and entertaining audience interactions solidified that impression.

I made a decision a few weeks ago not to talk about the MCs unless they were new to the role, new to the club, just to avoid becoming redundant. I’m deviating from that because I need to talk about Dario. I have seen Dario perform on six nights out of seven this week, and he is on fire. I’ve watched him take real risks, blending new jokes in with some tried and true material, and it’s paying off. The time he’s spending doing improv has made his crowd work quicker, less mainstream. His stage presence is more natural; his eyes are no longer on his feet. The transformation is a pleasure to watch and I find myself laughing every time.

Tim Almeter, like Dario, is also a local comic on the rise. Finishing third in this year’s Funniest Person in Rochester Contest, Tim takes the stage with an attitude of fearlessness. He assumes the audience will find him funny, and they do. He jumps right in to material that can be polarizing: talking about our differences. First up is the Indian woman on the train platform whose son said he wasn’t going to be a doctor, like some white person, to which she replied, “Shh. They’re right there.” Then on to a story about his coworker’s fear (Deer are afraid of white people. Black people are afraid of deer. White people are afraid of black people.) and the discovery of an anti-Semitic golf cart (Who’s on the golf course good-time hatin’ Jews?). Tim talks about things both common (speaking to your cat, wrinkling your girlfriend’s underwear) and curious (being “regal” at the bar) at a speed that occasionally requires you to play the joke back in your brain to make sure you caught it. Both these guys can be found easily on Facebook, or seen live at various open mics and Laugh Riot productions. It is well worth your time to seek them out.

Ben Bailey began by acknowledging the potential confusion that might result for people who had only ever seen him on “Cash Cab.”  He apologized for having hair, pointed out that tv isn’t real. “Know what else isn’t real? I’m not a cab driver.” He did a long riff on the guy down the road selling dirt and then proceeded to show us he’d done his homework on Rochester, noting that he was downtown earlier (just me, no one else. Tumbleweed, tumbleweed, government worker, one lone guy making Xerox copies) and checked out the Genesee (thought he’d found a beer river).

Ben’s show is packed with jokes. His rhythm seems to be premise, punch, punch, tag, tag, tag. He tries to see how far he can go without the joke weakening. Instead of that taffy-pull feeling where the humor gets stretched thinner the longer it goes, Ben’s jokes feel like they’re an incredibly long rope, endlessly uncoiling, until he gets bored and moves on to the next premise. He talks about things: traffic light countdowns, taking people to prison in the Oscar Mayer wiener mobile. He talks about places: the reaction of people in NYC when they see him in the cab (You’re going to be playing the Hudson River Challenge!), “I was down South, don’t go if you don’t have to.” He talks about people and how we talk: “Do what now?” It’s always Now now, stop specifying.” “I don’t understand all y’all. I thought y’all was already plural.” His bits on good ass toast and ordering multiple Guinesses were hilarious, as was the friend wanting to borrow a scissor to cut his pant into short. He also has a great bit about to-do lists: I woke up and looked at my to-do list. It said “all that stuff” on it. I thought I better get up. I got all that stuff to do and I don’t know what any of it is.

For myself and the other comedians who watched the shows with me, the most interesting parts of Ben Bailey’s weekend were his crowd interactions. On Thursday, there was the mini-fan club down front who brought him a Cash Cab drawing, “This is cute. Do you have jobs? If I were a gay man, this would be so important to me. You recruited a colleague? I thought you said collie.” And the drunk girl: “Don’t pretend you’re mad. You have such a crush on me. You’re like a little girl who pushes the boy off the swing because she likes him.” Friday was intense, as there was mounting conflict with a drunk guy who tried to be funny but just grew more annoying. Ben’s already fast pace picked up, his anger became apparent as he went back and forth with this guy. He reminded everyone that timing is part of the job, that he doesn’t just get up on stage and say random stuff, there’s work and an art to it. The audience was with him, and Mark had to go warn the guy that he was going to be escorted out if he didn’t stop immediately. Ben continued and, for a moment, I wasn’t sure he was as annoyed as he appeared to be. He smile/smirked a little as he tried to bring us back. Saturday had a mini-match with an audience member, as well.

I liked watching these near-collisions. No one truly seemed like they were gunning to screw up the show or mess with Ben Bailey – at 6’6’, he’s really not the kind of guy most people would test for the hell of it. The girls seemed a little star struck and the guys just seemed to have had too much to drink and no way to turn themselves off. Watching Ben stop one step short of losing it made the already fun show just a bit more enjoyable. In the final moments, I heard this: “If we’ve learned anything here tonight, it’s that you can’t learn anything at a comedy show.” Great line, but I don’t agree. I learn things at comedy shows all the time. This weekend, I learned how much I enjoy watching hecklers and comics collide just a little. I learned that Ben Bailey can get people into a comedy club. And I learned that I really enjoy premise, punch, punch, tag, tag, tag.