Joke Club @ The Drake
AKA Stand-Up Comedian Self-Deprecation Night.
I don’t necessarily hold it against stand-up comedians when they base their humour around making fun of themselves; stand-up is a damn hard thing to do. I can’t imagine many worse things than being up there on stage, attempting to be upbeat and funny, but getting absolutely no reaction. In these situations, I think it’s only natural to try to elicit sympathy from an unresponsive crowd by pointing out your shortcomings and cajoling them into a laugh.
Thing is, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The Joke Club at The Drake Hotel on Sep. 5 was a perfect example of this hit-and-miss.
The show started off with host Nick Flanagan being ‘interviewed’ by Graham Wagner. This was meant as a kind of ‘overture,’ something to fill the time as people were still shuffling in and taking their seats, but given that it was mostly inside jokes between the two of them, it wasn’t really that funny (to me, anyway). Flanagan proved himself an able host over the course of the evening however, moving the proceedings briskly along and offering up his own humourous self-flagellation when no one entered his joke contest.
First up came a string of three stand-up acts: Steve Scholtz, who’s endearingly awkward manner and well-timed improvs made up for those few jokes that didn’t fly; Jeff McEnery, who’s set of white-trash jokes about strippers, booze, child support payments and Acton were about as tired as they were not funny; and Dylan Mendelson, who, aside from a couple of good impressions, bombed so bad I’m surprised there wasn’t a crater left on the stage.
Next came the vaudeville-meets-multimedia stylings of The Remainders. This duo of Ryan V. Hays and Katie Crown offered up a set the likes of which I hadn’t seen before — I would describe it as jazz-comedy, or scat-comedy. Each takes on a sort of game-show host/circus emcee persona, offering up quick riffs on a subject which leads to something else via association (in absurd and funny ways), mixed with song, mixed with clever props such as the Word Dice — it seems improvised, but the whole show is meticulously planned and rehearsed. The fact that they pulled it off seamlessly was quite impressive. They even had a video in which they teach their dinosaur friend how to bake cakes and pies.
Following this was a set of three videos which lead into the intermission. The only one worth mentioning was called School News by Kathleen Phillips; it’s a simple one-take scene where she plays a high-school kid providing a summary of interesting gossip at her school. It was so funny I literally had tears streaming down my face. I really hoped I’d be able to put it up here but I’ve looked everywhere and it doesn’t seem to be online. I’ll keep looking for it though, and if I find it I’ll share.
Then I went home, so I didn’t see any of the second half — for that I apologize. Maybe I should re-title this ‘Joke Club @ The Drake — The First Half.’
But I won’t. 03971semaj