Thursday of the following week is probably a little late for a weekend recap, the watercooler is presumably lukewarm by now. But I soldier on. On New Year’s Eve, we saw John Caparulo (of Chelsea Lately fame) do standup in Pasadena. The show was hilarious, the drinks were massive and delicious (but ultimately contributed to a four day hangover) and a good time was had by all. That good time, plus the fact that SO will laugh at basically anything (not including this website), led to the conclusion that we should spend more of our (ample) free time exploring the NYC comedy scene.
I live four blocks from The Upright Citizen’s Brigade theater, which is pretty significant in the world of improv. Too bad improv performances vary so much in quality. I have been to UCB a total of once. (Although it was a good night, a friend of a friend got really hammered and we left him there passed out. If only we’d have had some magic markers). There are other, more traditional stand up spots right in our hood – Gotham Comedy Club (where they film a lot of Comedy Central specials) and Comix (where they embrace alternative spellingz). We are big fans of 30 Rock, so when we heard that Judah Friedlander (Frank, the trucker hat guy) was playing Comix on Valentine’s weekend, we knew we had to check it out.
In an effort to be social gadflys, we asked a few different people if they wanted to go – there were shows on both Saturday and Sunday. We ended up double-booking, as some folks preferred Saturday and some Sunday. We decided to split the difference and go to both Gotham CC and Comix, back to back. Double bling style. We learned some things along the way.
Saturday Night: Gotham Comedy Club (Jeff Dye, Lenny Marcus, Some Dude Who Spoke Too Quietly, Some Lady MC)
Living just around the block, we assumed we could roll up to GCC and grab tickets for the 10:00 show at around 8:30, given the lack of big names and all. We were incorrect – that shit was sold out. We got put on the waitlist (shades of Chicago GSB) and headed next door to get some Righteous Urban Barbecue and hope we made the cut. Our friends showed up, we had several drinks and then went to beg to be let in around 10:15 – the fuckers had already started letting waitlisters in without calling us! (We were first on the waitlist.) We got in (obviously, or why would I be writing this?) but the night had started in a sub-optimal manner.
We were seated in approximately the worst seats in the house – to the extreme left of the stage, as far back as possible. You could kind of hear and kind of see the comedians. When we got there some woman was discussing her love life; turns out she was the MC. Then some guy with glasses came out and mumbled through a seven minute set of quiet observations about stuff. Trying to convince ourselves that we weren’t in frigid New York, 3/4 of our group ordered margaritas. Horrible call, as GCC inexplicably uses soda water in their margaritas; the worst margarita I’ve had since the one in the Dominican that had chocolate liqueur as a key ingredient. Not off to a great start, but we were happy to be there and just getting settled in.
The penultimate comic, Lenny Marcus, was hilarious. Anybody who can work “I’m gonna bang Dora the Explorer” into his routine is doing strong work. He was awesome, but also only did about seven minutes. We got to the headliner in what seemed like twenty minutes. That guy, Jeff Dye, was funny, too, but I found him to be less memorable than Lenny. It was kind of interesting that he used very little profanity, preferring to go the slacker/observational route. Luckily, I wised up and ordered a martini (gin, of course, Bat) as my final required drink purchase. Much better than the “margarita” but they tossed a lemon slice in there instead of a lemon peel (I’m an olive hater) – GCC bartenders could use a little training. (Although the waiters and waitresses did a phenomenal job of navigating the crowded place with hilariously overloaded trays of drinks; only waitress looked like she could curl about 270 lbs.)
All in all, it was a pretty fun time, but would have been better if we’d had better seats and ordered differently. Didn’t stop us from going back and playing wii until 3:00 AM, allowing me once again to ponder why I’m so fucking great at real bowling and why the frickin computer screws me so bad at virtual bowling. Where’s the pin action!
Sunday Night: Comix (Judah Friedlander, Carmen Lynch, Some Funny-assed MC (Will? or William?))
The next night’s crew was me, SO and two of her friends. Armed with lessons learned, we bought our tickets online and picked them up about an hour early. We positioned ourselves in the large bar area at Comix so that we would be among the first handful of people through the door to the stage area. We then became the first people through the door, and the usher offered us “the best seats in the house” literally the table right in front of the mic stand, about a foot away from the performers.
There was some trepidation on our part. Two of the ladies wanted to move slightly further away to minimize the chance of mocking/ridicule; I argued that the bright lights would likely prevent them from even seeing the people right in front and that moving back a row would make us even more of a target. I was incorrect – everybody had something to say to our group.
MC: What’s up with this group, are you all together, three girls and one guy?
Me: That’s my girlfriend and these are her friends. (Quick wit, personified)
MC: Oh, I see, those two operate the video camera.
Despite the ever-present danger of being the butt of a joke, this was a much better experience. I went martini from the kickoff: fishbowl-sized, appropriate lemon peel, perfectly made. (Unfortunately, so did one of SO’s light-drinking friends, by the end of the show she was screaming “You perm your hair!” at Judah Friedlander). The MC was funnier than the previous night’s headliner, and was apparently a huge fan of pleasuring himself. Carmen Lynch, the warm up act, also brought the funny, unafraid to throw some unexpected vulgarity in the mix. Plus, scoliosis jokes always kill.
Judah Friedlander has a shtick where he’s the World Champion of the World, and most of his act rotates around his preposterous deeds and accomplishments. Definitely funny stuff, but he seemed to be kind of just riffing by the end, with a lot of “I wrestled a shark” bits that he could work into his banter with the audience . I would have preferred a little more balance as the out-of-persona bits he threw out there were pretty damn funny. Strong show, though, and a fun night. (It was a very rare situation, though, where SO and I ended up basically babysitting the other two drunkards. Those chicks devoured like 4 plates of chicken fingers and mo sticks after the show, it looked like something from Animal Planet.)
Lessons learned: Get there early with tickets in hand, order martinis, don’t wear brightly colored clothing or wear too many accesories.