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
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 Germany .” 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.