Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Researching the Las Vegas Stages Part Two

I went to see another comedy show in Vegas for the local comedians, and of the local comics. Jeremy Flores, Davey O, Michelle West and Don Tjernagel were the stars, and Travis, whose last name never was revealed also featured, as did a guest set by Don the Song Parody Guy of the Howard Stern Show, who happens to live in Vegas part time. The event was at a former strip club, off of the former Industrial, now Dean Martin Rd. The place is called ROX, and it's gorgeous inside now. It's got a great feel to it, and Led Zeppelin DVD aside, it really was set up for a great night of comedy.

Don Tjernagal..great name that no one in their right brain could pronounce.. is prolific. He has several CDs to his credit, self produced, but rightfully so. He looks like a mad Marine, clean cut, and buff, but with a cynic's eye, and a deviant grin. He's been a road comic and he's a Vegas guy who apparently has opened stages in town just as DavyO has..there was a need for censor-ship free expression. He's worked his ass off to fill that need. And, he's really funny. He thinks on his feet. He calls himself rated R, but he really is too bright to be considered JUST a blue comic. He is a smart guy. He had Jeremy Flores, from the DavyO open mic the night before? The guy who had great material, but didn't use the mic right? Emcee...

Great choice. I got to hear the guy this time. Why? Rox has a sound guy. They also have a lighting guy...same guy. It didn't matter. There were all of six people at the club. Welcome to hell. This is the problem with the marketing of comedy in Las Vegas. When you don't understand proper marketing, you don't get the press, the PR, and the people. The club did have ads, and the MySpace promo sent the DAY of the show didn't do much to get anyone into the club. I found out about the show ONLY because I was looking for local venues, found a local comic's name, and looked up where he was playing. Had I not done that... I think I'd still be wondering.

BUT that aside...Jeremy Flores is an Improv comic. As in Budd Friedmann's Improv. He does not belong in Las Vegas. He's done this for eight years, has material, has timing, has his set down cold. He knows how to talk to people when he's on stage. I have NO idea why he is not doing this in Los Angeles because he looks much younger than he is and could easily get television. HE's a HE. Everything he needs to succeed in LA is there. So my guess is the only reason he needs is the confidence to do it on his own. Or he'd be there. He mumbled something about the Ice House. He's well past that stage. I LOVE the Ice House and I think he would KICK ASS in the Hispanic nights there.. but I think he's mainstream, too. Whatever is holding him's too bad. He so deserved not to be in Las Vegas in an open mic and in a room with six people.

The next guy up... I know how the local scenes are when you are supporting your buddies. There is always the guy who is starting out, and you give him stage time, and he's sort of there, but he's just sort of not. This guy Travis is like that. He does one liner angry white boy material done in dry monotone. It almost works. It doesn't work because he doesn't connect with two things.... he stares at the back wall, so he doesn't identify with anyone he's talking to, yet his lines are "Don't you hate it when..." So no, I don't hate it when... I have no idea who I'm hating or why or when. And, the lines he elected...well...the room was 78% women, and he picked women on cell phones, women driving, and that was pretty much it. If your material is to attack the audience, in monotone, without eye contact, it won't go over. It was kind of sad. He had some good lines, though. What was endearing is that when he did get a chuckle, he gave a single chuckle he cracked the bad boy act...and that worked. That made it funnier. That's when he won the crowd. (crowd?) But he didn't look at people so he didn't see that. And he left the stage just as he won them, and they started to listen.

Michelle West... I really liked her because her stage personna is natural. She comes across as the slutty girlfriend everyone has, and no one admits to being. Her parents were there, and I think part of the laughter was, "Oh my gawd she said that in front of her MOM!??" because she talked about balls, cum, cock, and blowjobs, in front of her. She identified her people at the bar, bonded with them, talked to them, and made them part of her stories. That was good. But, she stuck to her material. It got a little weird when she started getting off page and talked to her friend sitting with her mom more. But mostly she was dead on funny, and just came across as very pro. She's not ready for hollywood, but I can see her doing some shows in some of the late night Vegas shows soon. I give her a couple of years before she's on TV.

Davey O went up. He kept telling me the night before he was going to show me his A game because he was telling me he wanted to be at the Store. That was my first sign. Well, when you're used to working a crowded room of drunks, your A game material isn't always the same as when you're in a room of 7 people, 4 of whom are comedians. Davy is still new to comedy despite being on stage for 8 years. He's an emcee, who writes the standard setup, twist, or setup punch, twist, punch. He uses a lot of the formula material because that's how he hears jokes in his mind. And, he comes across as desperately looking for a laugh when he needs to just tell his material in a way that's natural. BUT that's his voice. He is the Shecky-o that people expect him to be. He loves comedy, he loves jokes, he loves laughter, and that comes across, and it's endearing in this town. So when he is on stage, as campy as he is, it isn't offensive, as some comics make it. It is a guy who likes to tell jokes, on stage. And it's okay. Not terrific, not a-game, but okay. He didn't suck the air out of the room. He didn't make people laugh until they're crying. But he didn't really do as well as he could have, and I think he put too much pressure on himself, and it showed. And, that's okay too. That type of room gave him the room to do that.

Don Tjernagel is the headliner. He's the guy who runs the room. The gorgeous room with Led Zep vids playing as you walk in is now his. But it isn't. Here came problem one for Don. He is dating Michelle. Michelle now has had a few drinks, and is with her friend, and her parents, and has been ragging about Don with them for a bit. He starts up on stage, and is pretty funny, but The Song Parody guy walked in, just in the nick of time....and he has him come up for a few minutes.

The Parody guy doesn't sing, and instead does a Brooklyn Boy, Jewish comic act, that's a typical comedy club set from a Howard Stern writer guy. It's okay and he's funny, and very East Coast. He had some really good lines. Like Davey he does the standard Setup Twist writing, but his flow is more experienced, and it comes out smoother. He uses his mike like a pal, and he plays with the stand a bit. His set is short, rehearsed hard, and very much what it is.... sweet NYC jewish boy on stage. It's an open miker's tight five, and you can see it. He's done it a dozen times and it was great. He knew where he'd get the laughs, he knew where to be self-depracating, and he was sweet about it. And, he brought back Don.

So Don comes back up and does another few minutes of slick material, that's very funny, but he kept getting interrupted. He's having a great set, and his gal pal started shouting at him. Suddenly she's editing his act! It was a bit weird for all of the people in the room because A. no one knew if it was planned. and 2. the gal at the bar who was drinking thought it was time for her to join in. THAT's when it got REALLY bad. The drunk at the bar went from being a woman who laughed to some one who wanted the guy on stage dead. It was just very uncomfortable, and she was getting cheered by the girlfriend, now heckling the boyfriend, and the rest of us, were just in the Twilight Zone of bad comedy night. Oh it was hell. Very bad hell. Very uncomfortable, why are we in their domestic drama hell?

So his response? Get Michelle on stage with him. The pair do an impression together's weird, and bizarre and drunken and odd. Almost funny. Almost creepy. It's hard to figure out if it's planned, or if they're happy, or if they're miserable. Regardless. The bar drunk is miserable. The show is over. We're done. I have four more places to check out this week. Two more hosts to meet. There's still crazy J, and boomers.

But wow... I'm hopefully going to get a video done. Maybe it will be in a BIG empty gorgeous room with drunk bar people. Maybe it will be in crowded drunken room where no one will hear anyone. OH I didn't say the best part. Jeremy has a gal pal with him. Davy introduces me. She says, "Wow did you hear the women last night..what was up with them... one was obnoxious..then I couldn't hear one..." Yeah, I was the one no one could hear. At least I wasn't obnoxious. too bad, then I'd be remembered!! She didn't know I was onstage!

Lucky me.

No comments: