The festival ended Saturday, and I made the most of it, even though I had to work my second volunteer shift. The house manager, Katy, texted in advance to remind me to show up. The venue was the familiar North Door, which hosts the One Page Salon I attend most months. After biking downtown. I met up with Katy and the other volunteers, and we went over who was going to do what to get the guests inside and how to help do crowd control. My job was to roam around to keep folks get to their seats, point out if anyone heckled or took video, point to the bathrooms, and just help as needed. Katy and stage manager Cara were both super nice and fun to work with. But that’s all secondary to the main point: I saw some great comedy and had a fun time, and had a few brushes with celebrity, too. Did you hear the one about a dude who went to a comedy festival?
“About Last Night” Podcast
Brad Williams is well-known in the comedy biz, having been around a while. He’s also noticeable since he is a little person, or as he refers to himself, a midget who tends to wear a fedora. Like many comics, he’s gotten into the podcast business. His co-host is Adam Ray, and the theme is stories from their lives on the road. They had several guests with them: Avery Pearson was on keyboards and Jessica Kirson and Big Jay Oakerson also sat in. They were all amusing in their own way, and clearly had appreciative fans in the audience familiar with their work.
I didn’t hear the whole show, rotating out to let other volunteers come in, but of course can listen on line, as can you (see below). What I heard was pretty funny and entertaining. I liked this blurb from his biography:
Brad’s show is high energy. Robin Williams called him “Prozac with a head.” Brad’s ability to make humorous observations on disability, relationships, sex, and race are winning over audiences and proving anyone can overcome their shortcomings.BradWilliamsComic.com
After the show, I met Brad during a slow moment and shook his hand. He was very approachable, as they all were, but the others busy talking to other people and I had to get back to work. That’s a cool thing about working or attending festivals — you meet interesting people. Usually it’s fellow attenders but when it’s the performers, it’s another level of enjoyment. If you’re a huge fan of someone, meeting them is a way to relay to them your appreciation. And of course the performers love the attention and compliments. It’s a mutal admiration society, and both sides are needed.
This is a show that appears on Comedy Central. I first saw it at South by Southwest, with some different performers and judges. But the main crew — DJ, host and three hype that call themselves “The Wave” — was the same. The main host who has made roasting famous in recent years (he sure didn’t invent it), Jeff Ross aka The Roastmaster General, was not there.
But it was still very funny, and very, VERY vulgar. Basically you have two people trading insults, and there are no rules about what you can say. For an example, here’s a YouTube clip. If you are easily offended, don’t look at it. I’m not, but it’s not the first type of comedy I think of or want to see. Still, it’s really funny even when it’s mean. At the end, competing comics have to hug it out. So it’s all in good fun.
The crowd was bigger for this second event though still not full, probably because this was a satellite site outside of the main downtown area. But those that came were very much into it. The Wave would do things like throw up props on the stage, run across it dressed in a costume, or do other silly stuff. The judges were all comedians, and they had to pick the winners.
It’s interesting to watch as a form of comedy immortablized by Don Rickles, among others. Even though they learn who they’re facing two hours in advance so have time to think of jokes. The best ones don’t just deliver their prepared lines, they add to it. And underneath the insult, there is usually some grain of truth, or it’s something so ridiculous that it reveals the insulter’s bias more than the insulted person’s alleged deficiency. To see more Roast Battle, go to this link at Comedy Central.
A Dude Meets A Boy Named Sal
Oh yeah, I also met Sal Vulcano! I’d just seen him headlining at the Paramount Theatre the night before. He was on his way to the bathroom and I just said “Hi, I saw your show and had never heard of you before but just saw you at last night and you were hilarious.” He was super sweet to stop to chat.
I said “Go do your business first!” so he did. On the way back, he offered to take pictures with another volunteer and me. We’re not supposed to ask, but since he offered, who was I to say no? He’s from Staten Island and you know how those guys are: New Yorkers have a rough exterior but a soft and gooey inside. Anyway, it was fun to meet the star of Impractical Jokers on TruTV. Check his show out! I did and think it’s pretty cool. (There’s a reason it’s been on for six seasons.)
Goddamn Comedy Jam & After Party
Every year the show ends with a bunch of comedians doing a few minutes of stand-up followed by them singing a song with a full rock band. Performing were Sal, the Sklar Brothers, Chris Redd (SNL) and many more. It was pretty funny since the comedians were not necessarily the best singers. However, some were very good and it was entertaining. Most were rock songs from the 90’s, but Sal did “Gloria“, a disco standard. Let’s just say it was out of his range, but the backing band was very good and the packed club ate it all up. They gave him an E for effort and it was only some of the high notes he couldn’t hit.
After that, I made it to a hotel for the party. Visiting with several volunteers and a few of the comedians from Roast Battle was pretty fun. A Sklar Brother went by, and I noticed he’s really short. Not Brad Williams short, but then, who is? (Hey, it’s comedy.) Anyway, it was really loud in there and I was getting tired, so I said my goodbyes and headed home. I still had to do my walk, bike the rest of the way home, to do yoga and writing, so it was an extremely late night for me.
I was up so late that I had to recover on Sunday and didn’t bike at all. Later I reviewed what I wrote (luckily it was a book writing night) and it was mostly nonsensical, so I’ll have to redo it. That’s commitment, though, to finish my daily routine even after a long day. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that these performers do not have it easy. They work very hard to make us laugh and they just make it look easy. It’s not. Keep your day job!
All in all, the Moontower Comedy Festival was a pretty fun time. I saw three headliners and several dozen other comedians and met a few. I don’t know if this will change anything for me, like did any of the funny rub off on me? Well, not that I’m aware of. But I did wash my hands frequently. Anyway, it was a cool event. You can attend next year and even get cheaper tickets now. It’s April 22-25, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Here’s the link:
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