This past weekend, I did something twice I normally wouldn’t do once. I went to a comedy show (two, actually, for those in the cheap seats). One show was vibrant, fresh, of our times without relegating to paltry trendiness… and the other was TJ Miller’s Comedy Central special at the Boulder Theater.
The four comics I watched during the former show — the second monthly presentation by the Lazy Dog and newly established Boulder Comedy Club — were all laugh-out-loud funny and their jokes weren’t half-bad either. The venue was accommodating — new tables just for comedy nights! — the booze was dangerously cheap and the evening was light and airy in the way a hard-earned Friday night demands.
In contrast, Miller’s medium-sized cache misguided me into one of the most uncomfortable, enervating and awkward nights I’ve had in nearly two years of living in Boulder. Granted, part of it was my fault: being a Hollywood reprobate, I should have known better as soon as I heard the show was being taped live for television.
There we were, waiting in line outside of the Boulder Theater, being gawked at by passersby as the suckers we were for waiting on someone 90 percent of us had never heard of before. (I told one adorably gullible biker we were all awaiting Primus, just to save a little face.)
Two dreadfully tiresome and thirsty hours later, we were led into the theater proper where the night was all but ruined by a drunken man in the midst of Middle Age Crisis screaming out “hot dog” and by two inebriated gals who mistakenly thought that they were in a club on Sunset Boulevard, having received either too much or not enough attention from Daddy when they were younger.
Frankly, Miller wasn’t even that funny. And the show was in such chaotic disarray that if he had been, everyone but the plants in the audience would have still had a less-than-stellar evening that ended up lasting an interminable four hours.
All I could do aside from cringe and look back to my equally shame-faced friends peppered haplessly throughout the sardine-crowded seats, was wish I was still at the Lazy Dog the previous evening.
It reminded me of when I used to live in NYC and had quickly discovered that free shows at jazz lounges, coffee shops and bars far outweighed those I paid good money to see at larger venues. So, how does this happen?
Perhaps it has something to do with intimacy. Intimacy with other people eschewing the pomp and circumstance of diva celebs and agonizingly long lines. People in actual need of a good time after an equally long week. We — performer(s), audience members and small venue alike — end up working together to that end.
I guess all this ranting amounts to this: TJ, next time you decide to come back home to play, hit up Astroland instead. Worry more about writing fresh jokes than confetti bombs, lofty presentation and penis-envy spectacle. If shit gets disorganized, have someone make an apology, maybe offer some drink deals to assuage the rowdy crowd.
And don’t tell too many people. Especially not Comedy Central.