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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Take my dean, please!

A college professor, a college administrator, and an actor/yacht yard accountant walk into a pizza joint-turned comedy club.

The college Communications professor's colleague (Chair of the Art Department, just down the hall) has a moonlighting gig. He took a class. At a community college. So now he does five minutes of comedy, opening for pros. $15 gets you three comedians and pizza. (The Comm prof asked the Art prof if there were going to be any swears or racial slurs, and he said only on I-talians. She came ready to heckle if it slipped into Scandinavian-ist territory.)

What's "funny" (as in, let's mess with the professional comedians' heads) is when the opening part-time comedian teaches at a local Christian college and fills about a third of the house out with the Type of People who don't necessarily laugh out loud at poor but usually easy pay-off jokes about body parts and functions. Hello? Is this thing on? I just mentioned sex organs. Good times.

It was awesome, though I don't know if the pros knew how good they had it. This guy Warren, who used to sit on the front row in chapel every day and was known the campus-round for always laughing loudly at any appropriate moment, he's graduated now but showed up to support his old art prof, and he sat on the front row and laughed loudly, giving the comedians lotsa support, and he wasn't even getting chapel credit! That's Good People.

(Closer to the back of the room where our lovely lady protagonists were trying to hide were the requisite drunk repeat-half-the-jokes-when-they-get-them-three-minutes-later party, which included an unemployed guy named Bob and his girlfriend, an occupational therapist. True story.)

The third act didn't really have an act. After about the tenth "What's your name? What do you do?" routine, the rest of the room sitting in the dark in the back but realizing that's not going to stop him, isn't listening to his improv any more because we're all rehearsing our answers in our heads. "I'm uh, the Coordinator of Arts & Sciences at a Liberal Arts College. Work that, Funny Boy!"

Which is a shame, because he actually was pretty good. What are the odds a standard girl-boy jokes routine comedian's going to have handy not only a one-liner but a whole bit with detailed references from the book when one of his audience participants mentions Lord of the Flies? Follow that up with a couple of drunk jokes and some more, "Your name's Bill? Oh, Phil? It doesn't matter, we're not going to be friends," and you've got a fun 25 minutes.

Me and my friends were funnier when we were doing our own warm-up act downstairs before they opened the doors.

But you can't blame guys who make a living telling jokes for an hour a day. The middle guy even has an epileptic dog, and he didn't make us laugh at the seizures (just with them, ba-dump-bum), rather at him and the unhelpful, expensive vet. Who hasn't been there, huh? Expensive vets, epileptic pets? They're the worst! And what is the deal with phenobarbitol? Tip your waitress, I'm here all week.

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