Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eating Out Comedy

So in a shift from our normal programming. I wound up scoring tickets to the LOL Comedy show at the Tower Theater this past Saturday. Don’t worry! I’ve got recipes backed up and ready to disgorge upon the starry fabric of the interweb. But about the only thing that wars with my love for food would be my love of yuk yuks.

But first, a story. About 15 years ago, I went to the Tower Theater with a girlypal and her family to see the wonder that was Howie Mandel. Things you do for love right? Anyhoo, rather than be able to judge the talents of famed Bobby’s World creator. I wound up just having to pity the poor soul. For, he knew not what he was wading into, this polite Canuck with poor crowd management skills. Fresno was very barky-outbursty at the time and his opening bits were peppered by random howls of “HOWIE!” for no apparent reason. Thinking he can get the better of the crowd, he turns to one of the bellowers and says “What?” assuming that attention equaled shame and therefore garnering silence. WRONGO IN THE NO-NO BUDDY! Without missing a beat the lady shrieks “Take a picture with my kid!”. And the fool buys it! She runs up and happily tells him that by the way…ain’t got no camera! Oh god, it’s all coming unraveled now Mandy-boy! Think quick! “Could I use someone’s camera so this lady will be quiet?” he asks in the same tone an explosive ordinance disposal guys use when the clock has hit 5 seconds. “Sure! If you take a picture with my kid too!!” Just when you think it can’t get any worse, Fresno steps up baby! The next hour was fascinating. I’ve never seen a man complete a set of light hearted jokes with a raging “FUCK ALL OF YOU!!!” in his eyes. After the show, the kids wanted to run up to him at his limo for autographs. I gently bring them back to heel with a simply spoken truth. “Kids, I don’t think Howie wants to talk to any Fresnans ever again. Just let him go.”

So with that nesting in the back of my mind, I opened up my e-mail to discover that I had won free tickets from the The Fresno Beehive (thanks again!), to check out the LOL Comedy show. The lineup is fairly new to me, but then I’m not exactly a walking encyclopedia of working comics. Which, also makes it kinda cool, since I really have no idea what to expect from these guys and no clue if they can handle a Fresno crowd.

The evening kicked off with the music of the Super Lucky Catz. A local group headed up by front man Robert Andrew Gushel-Barron. Described to me as a funk band, they challenged my idea of funk. When I think of funk I think P-funk, Soul Brother #1 James Brown, Bootsy Collins, Curtis Mayfield. Get down and get funky, funk! Super Lucky Catz’ style is a lot softer than I would have expected. That’s not to say that they aren’t good. Just the opposite. Everyone in the band was spot on in their performance. It’s just that deep inside me, I really wish that they would really unleash their bass player and keep that slap bass rolling, turn up the levels on their guitarist and really let him wail on those 4 guitars he has. To my uneducated ears, they’re a little more adult contemporary than funky. But still, a really good performance.

Oh yeah, isn’t this a comedy show? Finally, openers! The first comic out wasn’t on the bill and sadly, I have a memory like an alzheimer’s patient with a concussion. However, I do remember that his bit was actually rather funny. He had a riff on the “you might be a redneck” bit, but with the Fresno twist of “you might be a tweaker”. As well as a pretty good spread of meth themed humor and a couple character quick changes. First out of the gate was definitely a hit with crowd.

Up next was a local cat by the name of Feather Da’wyz. He had a more traditional comedy club style set, hitting various universal topics like ageing, penis size and the frustrations of dating. He owned his material very well and approached some pretty beat up topics with a fresh perspective and definitely got the laughs. He ends his bit with “The Cell Phone Song” in which he sings out 7 numbers and gets the crowd to sing along. Once you’ve done it 3 or 4 times, he lets you know that it’s actually his cell and to feel free to text him after the show to find out other spots he’ll be performing at. And you know, it worked. I’ll be happy to go check him out again, just to see the full spectrum of his material.

Quinn Dahle, a SoCal transplant from Minnesota is up next. Again, another polished comedy club act. He works the observational humor fairly well. And he REALLY skirted the dangerous edge in such a multicultural crowd. But damn it, he actually wrung a few bellows of laughter out of me before I realized I should be self conscious and shut the hell up. Gotta give him props for throwing down a bit of challenging comedy. For sure, a guy to keep an eye on. If he finds his groove you might be seeing a lot more of him.

At last, a break! Quick jaunt through the legions seeking a beer towards the doors for a smoke. So far, I have to say that I’m very pleased with the whole experience. The comedians have delivered actual comedy. And in general I’m actually somewhat shocked at the good behavior of the Fresno crowd. Sure, there are a couple gabblers and some shout outs to the comics. But the comics are comfortably in their element and my fellow show goers are having fun without being total jackasses. Go Fresno comedy crowd!

Headliner time! If you’re 30 years old or older and a Central Valley native that actually chilled with any Latino family, Rudy Moreno will absolutely kill. Maybe some of the younger kids with more old school households can get it, but as a farm kid from the outskirts of town many moons ago, his bits really hit home. Here is where you see a seasoned pro who has done his homework. Not only does he riff on themes from an old school Latino childhood upbringing contrasted against today’s modern snotty little so and so’s, but was able to pander to the crowd by tearing up the neighboring towns like Tulare and even picked on the poor portly security guard and used him as a sounding board throughout his set. It shows forethought and preparation for doing a good show here. It makes me feel good that the headliner REALLY wanted to give Fresno a performance we’d like. Top that off with actually being really funny, he really earned that top slot and did a fabulous job giving us the finale we wanted. Overall, a great show and easily worth the ticket price for 3+ hours of entertainment and comedy. And they served beer!

Oh. So since it’s a food blog, I’m required by internet law to talk about food in some capacity every post? Well, crap. Ok. We actually were pretty famished before the show, so we ducked into the mighty Tower Dog for a bite. My beloved rocked the California Dog, while I was trying to stuff down a Polish Dog like an anaconda sucking down a capybara. Every time I eat there I discover something else that makes me smile. This time it was my mouth telling me that they actually make their relish in some form of a fresh manner. I could be wrong though. Which is why I approached one of the men involved for an interview. Don’t get your merkin in a twist just yet. I’ve got a backlog of recipes I’ve got to spew all over the tummy of my dear bloggy- blog. But SOON™ we’ll give you a secretive peek into what makes these dogs my favorite.