Greg Asdourian amuses himself. Every allusion or gotcha elicits an understated chortle. Whether apart of an audience’s flurry, or a solitary, trepid chuckle, Greg has a finger on the pulse…Greg’s pulse. It’s hard to describe: “jolly” is banal hack; “smug” is harshly critical; “cocksure” is too presumptuous of motives and mentality. There it is again. A hushed, appreciative assurance.
Over the course of a comedian’s life he or she will experience thousands of jokes – some of them, they might even like. In the spirit of comics loving comedy, we present a short form journal of the Bay’s best comedians talking shop and throwing shine on their favorite jokes/bits/stories heard over and over and over again in cafes, clubs, and anywhere else with a microphone.
2012 was undoubtedly a watershed year for Moshe Kasher. An Oakland-grown street punk, turned decorated stand-up performer, Kasher dominated the year beginning with the release of a memoir — Kasher in the Rye — and concluding with a weekend at his home club, the San Francisco Punch Line. In the midst of his accomplishments he released “Moshe Kasher: Live in Oakland” through Netflix, his first stand-up offering since 2009’s “Everyone You Know Is Going To Die, And Then You Are! (Unless You Die First)”. And while the ambitiously long-titled primary offering represents a career on the rise, ‘Live in Oakland’ demonstrates a relative apex, Moshe Kasher 2.0.
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 an 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.
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