A couple of years ago, when The Moon was still around, I tried my hand at stand-up comedy. Three times, in fact. Spent my five minutes on riffs about young women who are way too into their cats and my being way too high to operate the self-check out at Tom Thumb. (The punchline: “You think cops and parents are the enemies of a stoner, but it’s really crumpled-up money.”) I got some scattered chuckles with the second bit, but, apparently, letting your girlfriend’s roommate’s annoying, hungry, never-fed cats out into the street to find their own food isn’t funny.
So a couple of weeks ago, I revisited those scenarios under the glare of Best Friend’s overhead lights. I mumbled through the stories, trying not to look at the seven or eight faces behind the railing that rings the dance-floor. I felt like a kicker watching his game-saving field goal attempt shank far left of the uprights. If my totally hi-larious jokes had been footballs and laughs a last-second 3-point victory, well, some kid sitting at the 10-yard line would’ve walked home with a pigskin souvenir. Of course, I was bolstered at the time by some Jack Daniels and a couple Budweisers, so I didn’t really care that nobody laughed.
This time, I blame it on the Chuckle Hut, Embargo’s name for its Tuesday-night comedy open-mic. Earlier that evening, I had watched a veritable Battle of Britain at the downtown club. By the time the last comic standing had thanked everyone for coming, I was thinking about that old, half-assed routine I had tried at the Moon’s comedy jam, and when I heard that all of the contestants were moving on to Best Friends, I resolved to take another stab at making people laugh. I figured I couldn’t be any worse than the guy at Chuckle Hut who told jokes about the hassles of being black and having an ashy penis. I laughed at that one, though it seemed like territory long-since covered by Richard Pryor.
Anyway, I walked into Best Friends determined to conquer and take names, to belt out gut-busting jokes, drink a few beers, and return home to scribble even funnier jokes under the glow of my desk-lamp into the wee hours of the morning. Joining Embargo’s participants were a few more amateur comics, as well as a local up-and-comer, Chris Darden, and Patty Sweeney, who hosts an open-mic at Whiskey Girl Saloon on Monday nights. Best Friends is a big, bi-level room divided into a lower, boogie-down side and a pool-table side by a large bar. It reminds me of The Rail Club in a way, minus the Texas metal décor but with plenty of the vibe left over from its ’70s disco forebears. The relative enormity of the space didn’t faze me when the MC called my name. Rather, I was knocked for a loop by actually holding the mic in my hand, suddenly aware that the funny shit in my brain was not only subjectively humorous but also rapidly retreating to the dark corners in my mind where all of my should-have-saids go to die. I ran through the part about getting stoned and trying to make sense of the post office and into the part about the cats, and then I bowed out, right before my train of thought completely derailed.
Still, I had fun, and I ran into a couple other comics who’d been trying this weekly circuit continuously since before the Moon’s comedy night yelled last call. So what if I stunk up the place? I can always try again, at least after all the people who work at the craft have shown their chops. –– Steve Steward
The Night Before the Night Before Christmas
If you want to see local comedians who are actually funny (due, of course, to hours spent honing their jokes by stinking up open mics), QLive! is putting on a show at Four Day Weekend Theatre on Friday, Dec. 23, featuring Shane Torres, Clint “Paco” Worth, and Chris “Not the OJ DA” Darden. –– S.S.
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