Just got back from a night of events including a panel discussion on politics and scandal, a mixer for Story League of DC, and a fundraiser for the Tune Innfeaturing three local comics. The Tune Inn, beloved dive bar and cabled-featured Hill watering hole, had a fire a few weeks ago and is currently closed for repairs. A similar fate befell the Argonaut last summer, which opened better than ever a few months later. Word from the crowd at the fundraiser points to a September re-opening in this case.
If ever there was a problematic room for comedy, the east room of Cap Lounge is that room. Comics had to stand in the aisle between two rows of tables, in front of the restrooms. As people needed to use the facilities, the comic had to move out of the way while performing to let can-goers through then be tapped to move again when folks came back out. The room housed about 60-70 folks, including Tune Inn staff people, friends and supporters, and regular Hill types at the bar who had no idea what was happening. It was the kind of gig that most comics dread, logistically.
MC Emily Ruskowski, who recently won the DC’s Funniest College Student contest at the DC Improv, led off. I’ve seen Emily 3 times in a month and she seems to go about her bits in much the same order each time. Her first big laugh line got a very good response but soon after, a table of two young frat guys and their dates started heckling and essentially stopped the show. Emily did the thankless task of dealing with the horrible types to the point that the crowd began to boo them until they got up and left (Without tipping the waitress, big surprise). I didn’t realize at the start that the comics were given a generous amount of time, so Emily ended up doing probably 15-20 minutes, which seemed too long, given the close to 5 minutes she spent on the unwanteds. Second comic, Brandon Wardell, was only 18 and, in between alot of “ums” and “uhs”, had some good teenage silliness to draw on. I loved the part when he started shaking people’s hands after a deliberately hacky joke. He kept his set much shorter.
Headliner Jason Weems did 30 minutes, maybe more, and really showed what it means to be a road-tested, versatile comic. A half an hour is an eternity, although according to Weems, his DVD is about 90 mins long. He gave the folks a great time, played off the crowd from the beginning, and really seemed to be enjoying himself despite the less than ideal room. It appears he even got a gig at the Tune Inn’s re-opening out of it, if the banter from the front table is to be believed. The biggest difference between the comics were the transitions. Weems seemed to always be in control of where he was headed, even when breaking to make off-the-cuff observations. Spoke to him afterwards and hope to have him on the podcast/show once it gets launched.