I wouldn’t have gone to this had I not see the BuyWithMe deal, so there’s something to be said for those quasi-Groupon things. They do sort of get you out and about, doing stuff at a discounted rate. By the way, they did not pay me to write that. I’m just saying.
Anyway, I have a slightly difficult time reviewing live, intimate stuff in great detail because the people who perform are… real. And in the case of Comedy Off Broadway Oakland, they were about ten feet in front of me, which means they were really real. Physically real, manifested before my eyes, and even though they’re supposed to be tough-skinned comedians, subject to the tumultuous emotions of any normal human who dares to get on stage to try to make people laugh. I think that needs to be considered every time people attend comedy shows. If you think the guy or gal on stage sucks, think about if you’d do it. It softens the blow of what you may have been about to say.
So, diatribe over. I’d like to focus on the people who made me laugh the hardest. Unfortunately, the name of one of the dudes escapes me, and he’s not mentioned here with the other comedians, so I’ll just boil him down to vague, useless stereotypes and say that he was Indian and from Los Angeles and had a calm, confident stage presence, a great deal of funny stuff to say, and a timing that made his jokes even better. Not once did he pander or try to get jokes going from the audience, nor did he rely too heavily on race jokes. He just explained himself plainly: He’s a “shitty engineer” who’d rather be doing comedy. Honesty is truly the best policy. I hope I can get this dude’s name so I can see him perform again.
The other one I liked was Brendan Lynch, whose look was incredibly deceiving. I thought he’d be a bro, but he definitely wasn’t. He, too, had great timing, and also the ability to keep a straight face, which is impressive. I’ve found that many comedians, even seasoned ones (some of whom even performed the night I attended this event), laugh at their own jokes to really drive them home. They own their jokes, they feel that people should be laughing when they aren’t, and that shit gets awkward real quick. If there’s one piece of advice that I can solicit to comedians, being a completely non-comedian and inexperienced nincompoop, it’s that a hard sell only makes things worse. Don’t laugh at your joke unless you really think it’s that funny. Don’t beg the audience to laugh. And don’t insist that they just don’t get it. Accept the fact that your joke isn’t funny. Comedy is subjective, and most people disagree about what they think is the funniest thing. You take that risk by standing up on that stage, so deal with it.
Wow, another diatribe. Sorry, y’all. I should also mention that Priya Prasad, though she relied a little too much on the race card and the lady card, had some awesome one-liners. My favorite was “I like cheese,” which she said could be enhanced to badassdom with appropriate hand gestures. I’ll be quoting that one for awhile.
Oddly enough, I learned something from this experience. A lot of things, actually. I learned that a room with no windows and no bathrooms is an awkward place to watch comedy. I learned that comedians will literally perform anywhere if they want to get their sets heard. And I learned that every city has its funny gems of people, just waiting to be unearthed. I might come back here to discover someone new. I just hope they make me laugh really hard.