Another Phoenix New Times archival piece. This is a review I wrote of the weekly stand-up comedy show at The Hidden House.
I did some stand-up comedy once, and it was excruciating. It was at the Sweets And Beats Comedy Hour; I signed up for a slot at the open mic, went up to do my thing for five minutes, and it felt like an eternity. An eternity without laughs. From that day on, I gained a tremendous respect for standup comics, and every time I’ve seen a comedian bomb onstage I got sympathetic flashbacks to my five minutes of dying onstage.
Luckily my fears of witnessing bad standup and feeling those laugh-less flashbacks come back to haunt me were entirely unfounded when I went to the Hidden House on July 2, for their “Comedy On Tap” show. I entered the venue feeling grumpy and antisocial after a long day at work; seeing a comedy show was the last thing I wanted to do that night. But while I walked in reluctantly, I walked out feeling buzzed and re-energized, amazed at how good the free show was.
“Comedy On Tap” happens on Wednesday and Thursday each week, the show starting at 8:30 in the small, dark lounge space of the Hidden House. I was told by some fellow patrons that normally the Wednesday show is the busier of the two, but the show Thursday was packed with people. It was a little hot inside the bar, but a fan positioned behind the comics blasted cool relief towards the audience.
They had over a dozen standup comics onstage doing their thing for sets that usually didn’t go longer than 6 minutes. The host for the evening was the cap-wearing Cristin Davis (whose hat inspired comic Stu Baker later in the evening to quip that Davis was in town for “an Assholes With Hats convention”). After talking about the proper etiquette for tranny skirt lengths and jacking off on toothbrushes, Davis introduced the next comic, Jonathan Gregory.
While Gregory’s set wasn’t as funny as the rest of the comics (perhaps due in part to the intense Eastwood-worthy stare he had on his face the whole time), his out-of-nowhere question “Anybody looking forward to getting an abortion?” almost made me laugh out a lung. As he headed offstage, his exit inspired a magnificent ad-lib from Davis: “Loved you in No Country For Old Men!”
Leslie Barton talked about how women name their periods, and that she’s dubbed hers “Japanese Porn” (“because of all the blood & feces”). Darren Elder told a story about getting a blowjob from a “service droid” (the best new slang for a booty call ever) suffering from a wicked nosebleed. After telling a joke in Spanish, Steve Maxwell translated an older joke of his taught to him by a Mexican friend that proved to be really popular among Hispanic crowds: “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because I’m a faggot”.
Genevieve Rice told the audience about a game she likes to play everytime she sees a disheveled person: Hobo Or Hipster. “The other day I saw a guy pissing in a mailbox, but I’m pretty sure he was doing it ironically”. Myke Dehu explained how crickets are like matchsticks with legs. A comic from Vienna, Michelle Biloon, swore that at next Thursday’s Hidden House show she would perform a freestyle rap in German.
The highlight of the night for me was Will Novak’s set. It’s not everyday that a dude can walk onstage and talk about jerking off to “Wheel Of Fortune”, bemoan dating Wiccan Neo-Nazis on the Internet, and wrap it all up with paleontology jokes and have it all be consistently hilarious. Novak is leaving town to go on tour Friday with the comedian that followed his set, Kon Stamadianos.
Introduced as “Tiny Teen Wolf” by Nova, Kon quipped onstage that “For me, Genevieve plays Hipster Or Homo” before going off on hysterical tangents about his lack of a love-life and almost getting accidentally roofied while drinking strangers’ booze. Closing the night was a visiting comic from New York, Chet Wild, who killed the crowd dead after cracking a joke about the ethnic cleansing undertones in Sham-Wow’s ad campaign.
It was a night full of jokes about abortions, Nazis, Asian women and their fondness for eating dogs, not getting laid, getting laid poorly, and drinking onstage while telling jokes about getting drunk. Part of what made the night so much fun was seeing just how much the comics fed off of and entertained each other; it was like eavesdropping on a gang of old friends talking shit and cracking each other up. To see people who love what they do do it in public, do it well, and have a great time doing it is a rare and welcome pleasure. And if the positive vibes and quality control I felt and saw at Thursday’s show is typical of what “Comedy On Tap” offers on a weekly basis, you should get your ass out to one of these nights soon.