It’s t-minus fifteen minutes. The audience remains translucent. 49-seats of emptiness connects two pools of light. In the lobby Wigglesworth, nicest cyberpirate, watches the door with French bulldog, Wellington, lazily laying nearby. Across the moody, barren strait, a smattering of chattery, the loudest voice belonging to Bucky Sinister.
Bucky has probably heard some offensive assumptions: stocky, tattooed, downplayed dapper with freshly cut, slick hair. In the avocado-green room, with suspended livery and hoarded horrors, the sensitive badass is a kingly raconteur, bouncing lively in badinage with two of the night’s guests, neighborhood chocolatiers.
The Daily Show, local anti-political performance art, pranks. A rich colloquial confluence of rolling anecdotes from legitimately interesting San Franciscans with one exception. Nato Green, native through in through, slinks into a sleeve of his own design, iPhoning with a casual aloofness. “Do we have two mic[rophones] ready?” Nato leaks. Bucky exits to check, leaving Green to pre-interview with ebbing/flowing soccerdadcoach excitability.
Sean Keane arrives ‘round eight, complimented on his “Let It Be” McCartney-ness before being whisked away by the natural chaos of live production. Comedy isn’t glitz, it is gridiron exhibitions containing a lot of audibles. Caitlin Gill arrives. It’s t-plus eighteen minutes. In a matter of thirty minutes the once husky belly of the Dark Room Theater is now paunchy and groaning. Baron Vaughn — “Way less famous than he should be,” spouts Nato — is running late, and everyone seems even keel about it. Hasn’t anybody told the showrunners that it’s their fourth anniversary, an occasion worthy of silk, flowers or at least punctuality? Why does everything seem like business as unusual?
Endgames Improv does stuff. Also, they do it well. They’ve been doing it well for years and the city of San Francisco is made better by their exploits. On Friday, April 12, 2013, the group, known for divergent decisions and experimentation, presented Mute Defiance at the Stage Werx theater, a handsome, twilit proscenium. Improv actors set to challenge television by assimilating, by becoming one, by layering live intonations against projected programming, utilizing Netflix, the ubiquitous, quirky, dorky hamlet of entertainment, resulting in post-production puppetry.
By 11:20 we are panicing. The typical Tuesday-night fecal-feature of “Shitprov” at Dirty Trix is interrupted by R. Kelly, being played by Drunk DJ. Some have come from Milk Bar, some have shifted from the neighboring Neck of The Woods, all have condensed to watch Alex Koll, beloved Bay-Area jokester, on Conan O’Brien. Yet, for some God-forsaken-sports-related reason, Dirty Trix’s satellite television is playing Eurotrip, a prepubescent abomination featuring the little girl from Harriet the Spy.
It’s on open mic. An open mic is an open mic: it’s the karaoke of musings; it’s the intellectual cover band, it’s the Tito Jackson of artistic endeavors (maybe even Marlon). Sure, Portal’s Tavern open mic, located in the gallbladder of San Francisco, is well operated, well staffed, well attended and well received, but it’s still an open mic.
Mondays are notoriously adverse to comedy, especially of the unpolished variety. Stand-up is small potatoes, and on a slow night it can potentially poison the well for sports – Go Niners! Go Giants! – and good ole fashion alcoholism. And for additional subtraction, whether by frugality or poverty, comics are notorious tightwads. Since the great Purge of 2011 (Kimo’s; 50 Mason; 800 Larkin, again), and finales of other castoffs (farewell Deco Lounge), the bow of the week has been adrift. Thankfully, Portal’s Tavern floated along and jokers clambered aboard like ill-fated lovers on a freezing door.
House shows are the best shows. Every time the elegant edifice of modern comedy is torn from it’s standard, swarmy platforms — bars, clubs, theaters — and moved to naturalistic, “acoustic” settings, the best of the medium infuses with the luxury of living [rooms]. They are a temporal hybrid of contemporary DIY, boundless work ethic and the risque bawdiness of party record listening parties circa 1970s. These culture clusters’ significance are inasmuch undetermined and largely undocumented. Underground, tantalizing, scandalous, pivotal: parlors of the BYOBrood, with low expectations and high anticipation, are the gunpowder for unbelievably special moments within uncanny circumstance.
Whooping applause welcomes Louis Katz, comedian/director/person, to the crowning of his album recording; a hot, Sacramento crowd. Such love isn’t something to squander, oh no, as Katz returns the sentiment with immediate self-deprecation, the kind characterized by skyward chin, erect spine and a flaccid penis hanging through a gaping, open fly.
I had a nightmare, a flashback to last year’s fiasco. The gung-ho Sylvan, vikingesque spirit in the morning devolved into utter agony and sunken morale by nightfall. We struck a contingency plan, but it relied on rest and strategy.
Sleep remained elusive as a will-o’-the-wisp; I only managed to dominate three or four “Z’s”. After the glorified nap, energy trickled in adequately, a lazy aqueduct flowing past bodies, the night’s leftover affiliates. A hot roll of hearty spray reset my decay. By three-o-morning I stood alert inside sodden jeans, a Sylvan tee, neon-green Newport cap, rolled-sleeved collared shirt, everyday shoes, Miramonte hoodie, gardening gloves (lesson learned) and a considerable amount of anxiety. The rest of SylvanHouse floated lazily in stasis.
The following is the second and concluding portion of our interview with Moshe Kasher. Part One is available here, but isn’t completely necessary to peruse. Just have fun with it, ya know? Yeah, you know. Shared words after the jump.
You shift uncomfortably from foot to foot, queued on the sidewalk adjacent to a steamy Italian cafe. Quickly losing patience, which you’ve arguably never had, you’re inundated with idle conversations in a quagmire of unified strangers. Ostensibly waiting for comedy, truthfully you’re here for a single comedian, whom, is actually your charismatic co-worker, or your drug dealer, or your unhinged grandmother with a new lease on life. The Purple Onion straddles the coasts of the jostling Chinatown and North Beach’s unchecked vitality. Slinky couples clutch and shuffle through the habitat of urban smear mired in San Francisco’s classic, cellophane gray. As the proxy collective pulses forward, around and down a cumbersome staircase (very safe), and each individual is tolled by the ticket taker, the night’s makeup couldn’t be more smeared.
The following interview took place April 4th 2012 at Vitus in Oakland on Moshe Kasher’s book tour. Moshe is a comedian based in Los Angeles, born in New York and raised in Oakland. He’s hilarious, and if you need to catch up, click: here.
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