A comedy club date-night. Now this is a fun date-night thing to do. The difficulty for most is that you have to be in Hollywood – West Hollywood for the full experience you get at the renown Improv comedy club. However, you can do this kind of date-night in most cities now that comedy clubs are so ubiquitous. In Atlantic City we have The Comedy Stop at The Tropicana and The Comedy Club at the Borgata which are always great venues. The difference between LA to Anywhere USA will be the audience and headliners, since most of the same comics make the circuit and will be in your city eventually. One big advantage of Improv Hollywood is the star powered headliners as well as the chance of seeing someone famous get up on stage unexpectedly. This particular night Judd Apatow was appearing and it wasn’t unexpectedly. He was the star for the evening. A guy of his credentials is not likely to be in your home town, so some day you should make the trek to LA if you want to see some of the big names. The others appearing this particular night included Chris D’Elia, Bret Ernst, Adam Ray, and John Jacobs.
The scene in LA is rather hip compared to many other comedy venues, and part of this sheik is all about the people. It’s a young crowd and includes many wannabe comics who hang around outside looking to network. Others hang around looking for love and others just want a partner for the night. Being that you are on a date, you are required to just have fun looking at all that’s going on about you.
Before you walk into the actual showroom, there’s a nice bar that many of those just hanging out like to frequent. To get into the actual show (except on free open mic nights) you need tickets that are reasonably priced at around $22.00.
There’s a two drink minimum in many comedy clubs, and that can be satisfied with two bottles of water at $5 each or you can get stronger brews like a double bourbon for $16. Food is offered and I can’t comment on that because we ate down the street at an amazing Argentinian steak house, Carlitos, but that’s another story that includes details on the best chimichurri sauce around.
Show time usually begins on time because these folks would like to go home too. An mc/comedian generally begins the show and does a five to ten minutes set. He then introduces each comic as the night goes on. This pattern is what you can expect at most every comedy club across America, one mc, one headliner and two or more secondary acts trying to make it in the very competitive world of entertainment. The headliner usually goes last, but at a big venue like The Improv, he’s usually around third or fourth and followed by one or two who have the humiliation of seeing lots of people leave once the big gun is finished.
On this particular night none of the comics were very good, but try telling that to a few hundred drunk patrons who either think everything said is funny or they try to be funny by calling out, making joke or heckling.
Let’s begin with Judd Apatow. Standup is not his strong point. To be quite honest, he’s not funny. Even though I didn’t laugh at a thing he said, he did tell about his life, his family, his experiences and some other famous people he knows. As long as you didn’t expect any real jokes, he was, at least, interesting. A fascinating look into the life of this famous guy tells a story of insecurity, instability and a great example of being in the right place at the right time. Based on his movies he seems to have a comedic flare especially for the vulgar and in a vulgar declining society, this plays well to the audience. Judd told us of his limited abilities in the bedroom as he readily, and almost proudly, admitted that he borders between impotence and premature ejaculation. Now who would want to announce this infirmity to the world and sell it as comedy? I don’t think he was kidding, either, since he emphasized that this is really him. He discussed his spoiled daughter and mentioned his therapy as if we all have the luxury of having a therapist help us cope with fame and fortune. His dilemmas help prove the old adage that money can’t buy happiness.
Because of his avid following, the audience seemed enamored, especially the ones who were rather buzzed. Being a student of human behavior, I felt compelled to look all around the room and I noticed that many weren’t laughing any more than me. Okay, we can give the guy a pass. After all he’s famous.
While past comedy club experience nets at least one good comic each evening, this show failed to meet that criteria. Sure, a few laughs were had by me, the ultimate critic, but the few were far between. Being the hilariously funny guy that I am, the bar is always high when I see comedians.
Interestingly, every one of these comics cursed like a sailor – no even worse – they cursed like the new wave of female comedians such as Sarah Silverman and that ilk. Now I’m not a prude, but if you are going to make Lenny Bruce cringe in his grave with jealousy, at least be funny. I do believe all of the modern comics try to replicate Eddy Murphy who showed America he could go on stage wearing a ridiculous red suite and say FU to a bunch of white people who laughed hysterically, probably because he was merely assaulting them with vulgarity instead of a knife or gun. Each fellow who did his act let a bunch of “f this” and “f that’s” fly out their mouths, and interestingly, the plethora of sophomoric members of the crowd laughed wildly. Again, you must keep in mind they were loosened up by enough drinks that would make Romeo’s and Juliette’s death scene seem hilarious. If you really like vulgarity, and would like it to actually be very funny, get a tape of Robert Shimmel and see how a master pulls it off.
What ever happened to all those great comics? I guess a lot of them died off. How about some jokes instead of endless tales accentuated by cursing. I feel sorry for this new generation who may never know the fall-off-your-chair kind of laughter some of the greats were able to pull off.
For a different and unique date night, a comedy club is at least interesting, if not full of laughter. And then there’s always the chance you may get lucky and see a new up and comer the likes of a Rodney Dangerfield, a Henny Youngman, a Robin Williams… well you get the point. Maybe you’ll get to see a comedic star born right up there on stage the night you show up in Anywhere USA.
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