Tuesday, May 17, 2011
As a fan of comedy and putting myself in potentially awkward situations, my friend and co-worker Jen knew I'd be game to accompany her to the Funniest Person with a Day Job competition at Rick Bronson's House of Comedy. It is also fitting that my friend and co-worker, Miranda joined us since she and I have never had a normal night on the town together.
I recently listened to Marc Maron's description of the Mall of America and his experience performing at the House of Comedy. He mentioned that this club does everything it can to make the comedian feel small. It is a pretty big space as far as comedy clubs are concerned and they have a giant mural of the Twin Cities behind the performer which does have a surprising dwarfing effect. Then, at the beginning of the show, they played a montage of Twin Cities life and it was at that point I knew I wasn't with "my people" and that the whole vibe of the place was a bit more low brow than I prefer. The host did his best to get the audience excited to be there but most of us were there to support a particular person. In my case, it was someone I didn't know and who previously worked for my employer.
The comedians all have full-time jobs doing something other than write and perform comedy. As a Career Counselor, I found this fascinating and their jobs ranged from stay-at-home dad/bouncer to search engine optimization manager to pizza delivery driver to human resources trainer. The skill levels were as varied as the day jobs. Some comedians are polished, have a defined style and possibly will be able to quit their day job (except the dad, he's stuck driving his minivan for quite some time). Others, and in the case of the person I was supporting, crashed and burned. I suppose sophomoric humor is a natural place to start for many comedians, especially since the artform is predominately male. But, it bothered me that many of the acts were straight up racist, sexist and homophobic. I am not a complete prude but the whole set-up of the evening was uncomfortable because two of the "celebrity" judges are African-American, one of whom referenced the host being racist in a previous evening's set. Since the audience was 99% white, it just got really awkward fast. In the case of the person I went to support, it is still unclear to me if he was really drunk or if his schtick is to act drunk and then say ridiculously racist and out of date phrases like "colored people". I should say that this performer is a white male in his thirties. HIs act involved drinking an audience member's beer and eating another person's burger. So, I really hope he was drunk.
I am focusing on the negative but I must say I had some genuine laughs and thought the humor of the top three of the evening were smart, well executed and not completely reliant on sex or making fun of the audience.
So, I won't be rushing back to House of Comedy but it did reinforce my interest in comedians and trying to find out what famous comedians were like in the beginning of their career as well as supporting the acts that do stand out above the open mic train wrecks.
I attempted my first 365 photo project in 2011. I made it to Day 246.
The Nivens Family