A weekend of comedy in Boston

Fascinating weekend of shows in Boston.

The Comedy Studio
On Thursday, I did Myq and Micah's (final?) show at The Comedy Studio in Boston. What a great room. Rick Jenkins, the guy who runs it, gives the place a fun, intimate vibe. You can tell he really cares about taking care of the performers and the crowd. And that's pretty rare for comedy clubs.

Myq and Micah are both super comics (and soon to be full time NYC-ers). They had their work cut out for them as hosts: Some dude in the crowd wouldn't stop yelling shit out. They told him to shut up several times but he kept talking to the comics until he got a warning from the owner that he'd get the boot. Then things settled down.

Mark Normand, who went up there with me, had a great set. I had a good one too though my last joke, an old one where I make fun of the gay pride parade, fell flat. I wanted to tell one more but then I couldn't think of a quick one and the light was already on and I said fuck it and ended my set there.

I remember thinking it was super awkward and that I paused for like 10 seconds but when I watched the tape it wasn't bad at all. Still, I woke up at 6am the next morning thinking about it and couldn't get back to sleep. Being sensitive to even little mistakes is a double-edged sword: It keeps you on the track to getting better, but it can be tough to judge a set objectively when you fixate on the little things that went wrong instead of the good things that went right. But anyway, lesson learned: I'll now remember to have a quick one-liner ready to go if my last joke doesn't hit the way I want.

Nick's Comedy Stop
The next night I did a guest spot at Nick's Comedy Stop. This is a "real" club. Over 100 people there. The guy who hooked me up with the spot advised me to "be dumb, be dirty, and don't tell 'em you're from New York." I tried my best. Did a quick five minutes that started out well but tapered off at the end. I ended with my joke about "avant garde blowjobs," which has been killing, and it got hardly anything. I actually don't think they knew what avant garde meant.

Also, my Jerry Orbach joke didn't fly all that well. I'd say maybe he's only a fun topic to New Yorkers, but I've done well with that joke in Chicago too. Maybe I'm just not feeling it anymore. Crowds can smell that.

But man, you shoulda seen the jokes the other comics were hitting with. The crowd loved when they made fun of people from Revere or Somerville (boy, are they dumb!), dick jokes, and some over-the-top racist jokes about Asians. In fact, one comic put pantyhose over his head to pull his eyebrows back and then did his William Hung impersonation. I shit you not. That may be the precise moment when I realized I don't really want to become a club comic. Not if it's anything like that.

On Saturday night, we went back to catch the early show at The Comedy Studio. (By the way, one thing I noticed about the Boston comics I saw: They didn't veer from the plan much. Not a lot of riffing, crowdwork, or commenting on what's happening. It was almost exclusively setup/punch and then move along.)

Then, I did a late night set at ImprovBoston, a bit like the UCB of Boston. I was the only comic on the show and then there was a video and a sketch group. It was a cold open — the hosts announced the show and then brought me up without any warmup. Still, I had a really fun, longer set. Solid all the way through and got to branch out and tell some of my more storyish jokes. Great crowd who got it and played along nicely. Compared to the previous night, it was a real pleasure.

It all got me thinking. Funny is funny and I want to be able to make people laugh anywhere. And I know you're not supposed to blame the audience (Chris Rock and Louis CK always say that). But man, I'll take places like The Comedy Studio or a theater crowd like ImprovBoston's over a papered (free admission) audience that just wants to hear dick jokes and monosyllabic words. This weekend was a good A-B comparison of that.

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