After work yesterday I went to my friend Pete’s apartment in Bushwick to watch the second half of the Pats game and then go to Williamsburg for a free comedy show at the Knitting Factory, a bar on Metropolitan that does a lot of events.
You can imagine how I, a Patriots fan, was happy with how the first half of the evening unfolded. I still can’t believe that kick went wide. SUPER BOWL!
Although that’s not the focus of this post. After eating some surprisingly edible soy meat products for dinner (Bushwick turned Pete vegetarian), we headed to Williamsburg for the show.
The host was Hannibal Buress, whom I’d never heard of but who has apparently written for SNL and 30 Rock, on which he also occasionally plays a horny homeless guy. He alone made the show worthwhile. Dude is a rising star; I highly recommend checking him out. He had a real laid back, wandering style that the audience immediately warmed to, and even though some of his material wasn’t fully fleshed out it was pretty damn funny.
Burress inserted a lot of anecdotes into his routines to great effect – at one point he had a great, though overly long, bit on a crazy ex-prospective hookup who kept chatting him on Facebook even though, as he told us, his first response to her “Heyy, what’s up??” message was “Beat it.” His material wasn’t absolutely transcendent, but it was still very good, and his stage presence augers well for ongoing success in comedy.
Which cannot be said for the other four comics who performed last night. The first one started off his routine by harassing a hipster in the front row. Note to comedians in Williamsburg: if you’re gonna make fun of hipsters, do so carefully. The crowd wasn’t into it, and he kept it up for wayyy too long. Just in general, if you’re going to make fun of someone in the crowd, it’d better be funny and you’d better make it quick. Sometimes comedians can go back to the same guy or same couple a few times in their routine, but it’s never a good idea to relentlessly harangue on someone.
This guy also seemed too nervous to make eye contact with anyone other than a couple people in the front row. Finally, he made WAY too many rape jokes. He had a bit about how the grad student (a redhead) who saw Sandusky in the shower with a boy probably killed Sandusky’s boner because of his red hair. Just wasn’t that funny.
My opinion on rape and other touchy subjects in comedy is this: it’s fine if you go there, but you absolutely have to be clever or it’s gonna bomb. This guy, and also the final comic who performed last night, kept making these rape jokes and it really made the crowd uncomfortable. I’m by no means a politically correct person, but I felt awkward last night on multiple occasions.
On a similar note, when half of your crowd consists of women, maybe don’t keep referring to them as merely “Pussy.” “I was getting pussy, I was looking for pussy,” etc. It’s kind of a middle school/high school term to begin with, and it’s pretty degrading without adding any comedic value. Pete’s take: “I think those routines would have gone over better at a big state school with more bros. Like the University of Texas.”
These guys also committed another comedic sin – they got angry at the audience. The first one in particular. Just started going off about how lame and sensitive everyone was. The last guy, who couldn’t have been more than 21 or 22, was almost whining about how the crowd didn’t like him. Sorry man, maybe you shouldn’t have spent ten minutes describing why you love fingering chicks.
Overall though, I’m glad I went. Hannibal Burress was great, the two middle comedians (actually three – the third act was two identical twins who performed a weird but strangely amusing act together) were at least decent, and best of all it was free. Comedy shows like this are one of the reasons I’m really starting to like living in New York City.