Alex Koll is a long time staple of San Francisco Bay Area comedy. He performed “Boomtime” with Moshe Kasher and Brent Weinbach, co-produces “The Business” at the Dark Room Theater, won multiple regional air guitar championships, directs, hosts, and headlines while cultivating amazing, abstract absurdity. Recently Koll released his debut album, “Wizard Hello” on Rooftop Comedy’s label and on January 17, 2010, he threw party at the San Francisco Punchline to commemorate the milestone.
Emily Heller opened the show as well as commanded hosting duties. For the uniformed, Heller is a premier comic, Bay Area Laugh Leader finalist and resident Punchline performer. She warmed the crowd with confident self-degradation, well-placed wit, and casually cynical social commentary. She also started the night’s theme of discussing the San Francisco Giants by screaming expletives at the state of Texas. Heller created a soothing, sarcastic rhythm as she dissected bumper stickers and feminism recruiting folly all before a crescendo of comedy and compliments to Mr. Alex Koll.
Next performer: DJ Real. DJ Real is an intricate performance artist who blends props, acoustic musicianship, flashy dance moves and boombox background singers. The set included a number of songs off Real’s latest release, Personal Growth, as well as classics from his back catalog. Combating technical issues and performance gaffes (one of his fairies went rogue), DJ Real remained poised and endearing with his winning whimsy and careful corniness. The curly-haired virtuoso left the stage without his shoes but not before leaving an impression.
After a brief Heller-lude a bombastic baby faced man bounded the boards. Sean Keane brought the show’s second helping of stand-up comedy, a steaming dish of embarrassing stories and regional humor. Keane poked fun at adult and adolescent awkwardness in a fun, relatable manner. He also broke down the Giants in relationship to the City’s neighborhoods and took jabs at Oakland’s sports fans. The West Bay crowd was very receptive to Keane’s metered, polished, gabbing. The Raider fans shook their heads forlornly as they chuckled.
Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits proceeded to the penultimate performance position. The subversive, indie-folkish, duo of Dan Abbott and Corbett Radford, acoustically peddled catchy, Zappaesque, tunes dripping in irony. Most of the group’s songs boasted a dark subject manner, juxtaposed with jovial chords and cheerful harmonies. In the middle of their set Radford expressed sincere commendations to his long time friend, Alex Koll and his career accomplishments. Then, immediately thereafter, the band sprung into a rousing melodious tale of going postal at work. Both gestures were extremely heartfelt.
The man of the hour closed the show to conclude the night’s festivities. Alex Koll began with gratitude, thanking the audience before addressing the absence of his previously characteristic beard. The comedian’s routine not only reflected his physical change but also a stylistic shift as he performed new material excluded from his album. “Wizard Hello” is rife with surreal set ups and side swiping punchlines. This performance featured anecdotal material of Koll’s hell gigs, previous day jobs, and his Jewish ancestry. The bridge between the two Alex’s is Koll’s skilled wordplay and heavily detailed delivery. The show concluded with a hilarious tale of a baseball game in relation to a chubby childhood and insane summer crickets.
The term “release party” was a bit of a misnomer. There was no cake, few cone hats and absolutely no piñata. “Party” translated that night to an oddball, innovative, nerdy variety show featuring harmonious artists, best friends, and brilliant minds all residing in the house of Alex Koll.
Update: I should have wrote “… brilliant minds all residing in the Alex Kollection”.