The venue for most of the stand-up is the Kola Note. It’s not a huge venue, but it feels frustratingly cavernous when the laughs aren’t big. It seems like a tough room to get momentum in. Top it off with a crowd that’s got a fair amount of seen-it-all industry people in it. (One industry friend here told me afterward that a joke got a “nice” from her. That’s a compliment.) In short, it seems like a tough room.
With my experience in Aspen at the Belly-Up and this, part of me wonders why put young comics through a trial by fire like this. Of course, that entirely assumes that the atmosphere of the show is intentional - but that’s impossible. Comedy club crowds are difficult to predict, but you still have to go out of your way to make a tough room I think. And truly, having be a hard place to perform is, I suppose, the best measure of a comic. You can’t really know someone until they’ve been tested. Tough crowds are as good a test as any.
Now, there was a lot of laughs that night. But it was very rare that it felt like one of the “New Faces” had the room. The two that did extremely well in my mind were Tommy Johnagin and Kurt Metzger, the later being the only comic who earned an applause break. Johnagin hit me really hard with this exchange while making an appointment with his mechanic:
Mechanic: “How’s seven in the morning?”
Johnagin: “I hear it sucks. I’ll see you at noon.”
Metzger pretty much owned the crowd by teasing them right from the start, talking about wanting to start off on the right foot and then following it with a bit about “why America is the best country.” Cultural differences continue to play a role as he mentioned a girl was a ten and then asks, “do you have that or do you have metric hotness?”
My favorite line of the night has to be from Tom Papa, who hosted the show. One overcurious audience member queried where he was from, and then why he was here. Tom Papa: “I’m running fom my childhood and seeking the approval of strangers/”