About twenty-five people are gathered to watch live stand-up comedy on a rainy Monday night for Funny Humans at Bar of the Gods in southeast Portland. It is enough of an audience to fill most of the seating, but there is also a rowdy group playing on a pool table in back who continue to talk loudly even as host Dan Weber begins the show.
Weber smiles and addresses the distraction by asking directly, “Why are you still playing? It’s been over twenty minutes. If you can’t finish a pool game in twenty minutes, you suck at pool and must hate it to play it so poorly.” The approach works as everyone’s focus shifts to the acts at the front of the room.
First up is Jay Flewelling, an improviser and producer. He regales us with a funny short bit about attending church as an adult for the first time. His experience includes insight into the irony of homophobic choir directors and what an awful time slot church has compared to other “shows.” This show is off to a good start.
The next comedian is less-experienced, however, than most showcase guests. His detailed tale about being locked out of his hotel room naked is silly, yet felt like it was missing some key information. The evening’s momentum is slowed, but not derailed.
Helium and Harvey’s regular Jacob Christopher appears with his jokes being polished and smooth. His story about requiring three kidney transplants as a child wins the crowd before he admits to feeling more shame as an Insane Clown Posse fan than as a crack addict.
Frequent sketch actor and character-creator Scott Rogers rolls out a new incarnation named “Big Ed Barnum.” Big Ed invites us to buy lawn ornaments and honey baked hams. It is an extraordinarily well-written piece, yielding the biggest laughs from the entire audience so far.
Podcaster and karaoke jockey Scoot Herring guides us through cheesy pick-up lines then concludes his set by reciting Lil Wayne lyrics in the voice of David Attenborough, his juxtaposition working really well. The more I see of Herring and watch the material he writes, the more certain I am more folks should know about this weird and funny dude.
The night’s shortest set belonged to Xander Deveaux who discusses marriage equality and what it means for past generations of homosexuals. Deveaux is always unpredictable and has earned the coveted “absolutely-do-not-miss-this” distinction. He delights a young woman seated in the front row by holding her hand, looking her in the eye and asking her to scream with him.
Tim Hammer‘s feature act is a series of brief jokes designed with wit, wordplay and a winking nod to the audience. He is often described as a one-liner comic which, while not wholly untrue, is incomplete. His willingness to experiment with solid written material is fantastic to watch, given his deliberate, non-threatening delivery. His self-effacing jabs describing his own act radiate a charm, keeping us all on-board if a rare joke misses.
Headliner Sean Jordan thanks us for our participation and patronage. His easy-going persona is once again on display as he lampoons family reunions before delivering a series of what Jordan calls his “deep cuts” or old jokes he seldom tells. He continues to speak about family, walking the delicate line between advocating and antagonizing his father’s alcoholism. His slicing commentary is fun, yet somehow sensitive. Jordan continues to expand his act-outs, one while eavesdropping in a coffee shop line seems like only he could pull it off.
For the price of free, my entertainment for ninety-minutes was live local stand-up. The jokes were thoughtful, well-timed and accessible. The night flew by as this show’s pace never really slowed down once it got going after a rough start. Like most good comics, they got us to listen, then they got us to laugh.
CC: Willamette Week