I got a rare night out with my sister last night, and we headed to the Improv for a comedy show. It was nice to see the show opened by local comedian Jaime Utley before moving on to feature Jake Iannarino and headliner Dan Cummins. Utley warmed the audience up with some humor about his dysfunctional family and promises of a drawing at the end of the show.
"It all goes downhill from here" is how Ohio born Iannarino warned the audience after asking a moving audience member if they were "going to drop a deuce" right when he took the stage. The audience certainly didn't mind and even took it a step further during his act. He sported a really calm stage presence compared to many comedians who come across as hyper or angry. He was laid back but quick witted - perhaps because of the weed he mentioned several times. He showed off just how quick his wit was by offering mostly "crowd work" in his act. Crowd work is a form of comedy that is based largely on interacting with the audience, and carrying on conversations with them. It intimidates many younger comedians and is sometimes hard to maintain control of the audience during. He nailed it, picking on specific audience members without offending/angering anyone. He made my sister glad that we asked for seats other than the two we were originally shown to that were touching the stage .
In addition to being a full time road comic, Iannarino now produces a podcast, which you can check out at his web site. I am not usually a fan of material that consists mostly of race, pot, or stereotypes but I found myself captivated by his quick witted yet laid back stage presence and enjoyed his set. I especially enjoyed his statement about removing pacifist pot smokers from prison, because it costs 9 million dollars to keep them there. He said he could keep them confined to their apartment for $200; it's called an x-box. Something about his smooth demeanor makes the quick wit unexpected. The aforementioned "step further" took place when an audience member randomly shouted out, telling the comedian that his table mate is a laser hair removal specialist and that he "lasers p****s all day". For some reason, the audience member felt the need to continue telling him that. It wasn't unbelievable when Iannarino replied that was the first time that has ever happened to him in twenty years of comedy experience. He managed the situation with grace, keeping the audience under his control.
Iannarino was followed by headliner Dan Cummins. Cummins has an impressive bio listing many late night show appearances, CDs in the top ten of Comedy Billboard charts, festivals and specials on Comedy Central. I had not seen his time on Comedy Central and had no idea what to expect. For some reason, I gleaned from his information online that he seemed to be a positive and upbeat person - perhaps liberal and artsy, which I welcomed over a lot of negativity I get from some comedians. I left confused as to whether that assumption was correct or not. Although he spoke quite a bit about what makes him angry or wanting strangers to die, he did it in an upbeat and lovable way. He showed that charm can help you get away with quite a bit as he told stories of bullying or mean things he'd done to others while in school. He oozes charm and a radiant glow that kind of contradicts some of the material he delivers. I can't tell if it's healthy eating, a love of life or maybe his Idaho roots, but there is a definite glow about him. Don't get me wrong - his material seems dark or mean but also makes one think about the situations from different angles.
I really enjoyed his style of story telling. It wasn't rapid fire jokes or pointing out stereotypes. He is a masterful and hilarious story teller, relaying his varied experiences from parenting to being a heterosexual at a gay fetish festival in San Fransisco and makes great use of callbacks (referring to earlier material). He also shares his affectionate evaluation of the differences between his children and the hilarity of the catch phrases they use like "for real" and "hear this". He definitely has memorable material you will be quoting to others later at the office. I have to thank him for my new catch phrase and perhaps motto: "No-Frown town". I'm pretty sure I'll say it at least daily.
I recommend this as a great way to spend an evening this weekend. Shows run 8 and 10:30 p.m. on Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, or 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $17 with a two drink minimum. You can purchase tickets ahead of time or preview a video of Dan on the Improv web site.