Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The State Of Hamilton Comedy

Watching my half-brother Mike Vecchione on "Last Comic Standing" had re-awoken the impressionist comic in me.  I had been working on a few impressions in the last few years but was never building towards anything like a comedy set.  While I respect all of what my demi-brother has accomplished (he was recently on Jay Leno), I profess that we do not share comedy styles which is a huge relief to me.  Last thing I want to do is to be a carbon copy of a comic unless I can mimic him to a fault.

I have spent the last month or so honing my material and getting up the nerve to get on stage and test my comedy chops.  I have done that at two places in Hamilton.  First is at Hooters Hamilton.  I kind of had a difficult time explaining to my wife that there really was a comedy night every Tuesday.  I was half-expecting a "Yeah, right.  You are doing comedy.  Sure you are."  But she was okay with it and so I went.  The host there is Donny Coy.  Mr. Coy is like the guru MC there.  Donny is an expert at weaving current going-ons in the place right into his act.  He is there as a beacon to new and upcoming comics.  He will be the first to congratulate you on your successful set or relegate you to what he calls the "B" list.  One of his favourite comedians is Manolis Zantanos (that's Greek not Mexican, folks).

First time I saw Manolis, I thought "holy crap, Hollywood got it wrong. Here is the guy who should be playing Captain Kirk"  As far as I know, he does not do a Captain Kirk impression but he has the physique and the look and I bet he could do a Kirk without it looking like a parody.  For a guy who has the appearance of looking lost in direction, Manolis is more than accomplished.  He is also very affable (WTF is that, he would say) and has certain down to earth qualities.   Manolis likes to hang out at Hooters and also frequents the Staircase Theatre on Thursdays.

The Staircase Theatre is an old seemingly run down mansion with a guessed it ...a staircase.  One of the rising comics there is fifteen year old Mayce Galoni.  I can almost hear every comic whisper under his/her own breath as he takes the stage - "F***, he is only fifteen!!!" To have someone who is thirty years younger  doing the same thing you are and doing it quite well, is very ego challenging.  On this particular night, he brought his sister.   He left her at the table to do his act.  In the middle of his act, he mentions that his sister is gay.  HE OUTS HIS SISTER IN PUBLIC!!.  I am looking back to her and then back to him as he continues through it.  No reaction from her.  Wow.  He must have prepped her for this.  Only later, I figured out that he had a second sister and I now realize why she wasn't there.

You cannot read or see any comedy in Hamilton without running into the name Patrick Coppolino.   His act is completely raunchy and not for the faint hearted.  Then he metamorphoses into a completely shy and inward guy.  Kind of a bit creepy but then I realize that he could see me as a much older and bigger creep.  If Patrick is the introverted comic then Cliff Myers has to be the ultimate extrovert.  Cliff is a big man and uses his size as a comical weapon in his act.  He is comfortable in improv which I have found funnier than his prepared stuff.  Watch what you say about him because he comes across as vengeful so uh....Nice Cliff...nice Cliff.

I have learned a few things about the Hamilton comedy club scene.  Like all things, you have to be a hustler to get gigs and network to the extreme.  You also have to bring at least two people to Hamilton Yuk Yuk's if you want to perform there (A-holes!).  I've learned that crowds suck in humour that I particularly don't find funny.  They love it when a comic can acknowledge in a good-nature way that their jokes did not go over well or that they sucked.  I have also seen that even in the bowels of Hamilton, there are young comics with stars in their eyes, hoping that some talent scout will somehow get lost and stop by Hooters for a drink.  Or maybe some well known comic will stop by and take notice of the new talent and set them up with important contacts.  As improbable as the talent scout scenario is, I have seen the somewhat celebrity comic show up, finish his act and spend the rest of the evening at the bar while the "B team" got their chance. 

Finally, I learned that although I like to do impressions, my comedy power lies more in my written words.  I really enjoyed setting up my jokes in written fashion but delivery sucked.  In the end, my nerves did not help.  I had some fun, met a few acquaintances but am going back to what I do best which is writing.  I think I will leave the stand-up to my 1/2 bro even if I am the funnier one.

No comments:

Post a Comment