BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! @ R BAR
Comedians are different than musicians—they actually wake up in the morning, their drug problems are less far-reaching than our drug problems, and some of them even exercise!
But one thing they’ve been doing for about a decade (that we’ve stopped doing well) is having regular clubs, with the same people over and over, in different combinations, to build a scene. Blam! Blam! Blam!, the club rallied into laughter each month by host Matt Peters and shooshed into silence in the back by DeMorge Brown, is trying hard to get that energy going in the dark backstreets of K Town, and the monthly nights there can still be a highly uneven ride. But this Tuesday night, it bucked more than it dragged, and it was nice to see some familiar faces pull out great jokes seemingly sideways from how they normally do things.
Jim Hamilton, one of my recent faves, gets the Henny Youngman Interruptus award for doing a one-line joke and then leaving the stage. But many of the comedians this night were nearly as minimal, doing just a couple jokes, or using the night as an excuse to try out a new bit or three. Erik Charles Neilsen foamed at the mouth about wolves being introduced back into their natural habitats, Joe Wagner polled the audience for which girls had ever “fucked a fatty,” and Peters and Davey Johnson reprised their guerrilla sketch about a loud-breathing veteran of autoerotic asphyxiation who, for reasons that seem logical at the time, forces the audience to sing Smashmouth, then gets naked and stumbles into people.
T’was all fine and good, though I found myself enjoying the comedians a bit more who oozed out into the room and went on an honest-to-goodness rant. Mike Burns, who was a little “meh” last time I saw him, was in top form this night, spurred on by a cooing couple at the bar three feet away from the stage who would NOT TURN AROUND AND ACKNOWLEDGE HIS PRESENCE, no matter how many times he LOUDLY insulted the man’s hipster manhood or the woman’s purity, and despite the fact that Mike was recovering from being stabbed just the week before. Stabbed! And they couldn’t be bothered. Last time he did a similar bit, it just seemed mean, but this time, we all knew the douches deserved it! And Burns’ wit was a bit more razor-sharp than last time, so we got over the uncomfortable-ness and came over to his side in about 30 seconds.
I liked Emily Maya Mills a lot, too. In TV and sketch comedy, she’s good at playing the straight man, so it’s fun to see her get all goofy with herself in a live setting, babbling about guys’ taints, hitting on audience members, and doing a crazy rap (which, of course, didn’t rhyme) about how if she smoked as much weed as a rapper, she’d just rap about things around her house and never be able to leave. I grew up in the eighties, so if there’s one thing I thought could never make me laugh, it’s white people doing faux raps. Kudos to Mills for figuring out a way to make something that’s normally obvious and corny (with rare but amazing exceptions) seem fresh and funny, and completely stamped with her own id.
Ron Lynch’s act wasn’t exactly a rant, but it wasn’t exactly a stand-up act, either, or at least not one in the conventional sense—one of the few “meta” performers at a night that usually has several, Lynch was a minor hit. He mumbled in and out of coherence like Boy George at a charity gig, using sound effects on the mike rather than telling jokes. At one point he even played various TV and radio themes into the mike from his phone (I think?) and did voiceovers for them. Very funny, even when he accused Justin Bieber of killing Joe Frazier.
Blam! Blam! Blam! goes out on a limb to try out new comedians as well, and my favorite stage stranger was Tia Ayers, an oddball even by the standards of Victoria Jackson or a young Mary Lynn Rajskub. Of course, nowadays the bar on weird is a lot higher, but Ayers warmed us up with stories of gremlins and penises, then proceeded to “play” her guitar by putting it in front of her and “blowing” into the head stock each time she plucked a string—a bit that could have been stupid but was carried just this side of corny into the realm where cuteness lies. She seems to be new to the game, and if so, she’s off to a good start.
And the good end of the night was brought to us by Brody Stevens. If you live in L.A. and love comedy, you know his name, and if not, you’ll recognize his bits in movies. But on paper, it’s hard to capture this guy’s magic. Stevens doesn’t tell jokes, he just gets on the mike and talks about his career, his movies, his baseball playing friends, and his 2000 warm-ups for Chelsea Lately—read the transcript, and it’d sound a bit like Kathy Griffin, but Stevens is a lot more fast-paced and never scripted. This night was a little darker than normal, because Stevens had just got kicked out of his house in the Valley, and was telling some real-life story about police and quitting Lexipro and a .357 magnum. Whoa! I felt guilty even committing these stories into my notes, they were so personal. But then again, he also razzed me good from my seat in the front, and you know he’s being tongue in cheek if he speaks in the next breath of driving up Normandie and crashing his car into Zankou Chicken! But some of the laughter was nervous—this was the kind of dangerous set that teeters on the edge, because you never know if the comedian is going to land back on the tightrope. And this is the reason I come to Peters and Brown’s nights. If you never attend Blam! Blam! Blam!, you’re going to miss a few resounding, rebounding miracles.