Author: Sean L. McCarthy

I’m judging you, Boston (part seven)

The eighth and final preliminary competition in the Boston Comedy Festival stand-up contest, and for once, all is right with the world. And by that, I mean it’s not going to be difficult to predict who advances to the semifinals. And by that, I mean read the recap. Prelim 8 (in order of appearance): 1) Roz Browne: No, not that Roz. Comes up to a cold crowd, leaves it cold. Bites the proverbial opening-comic bullet. Sorry. Better luck next time. 2) Al Jackson: Another teacher? What’s with all of the stand-ups who previously worked as teachers? Could it be the students? Must be. But Jackson has funny teacher jokes I’ve never heard before. I won’t repeat them here. Guessing you might have another chance to hear them later this week. 3) Amanda Beals: I’m calling her Little Miss Fancypants. Her pants are fancy and full of flowing fabric. She even sounds fancy. Dahling, let me tell you a funny little story. 4) Stan Chen: The audience is not loving his Lance Armstrong bit. So he moves on to Sarah Jessica Parker, calling her sexy but ugly, which provoke laughter. Also argues for Asians in real sports. Is hot dog eating a real sport? I don’t find out in this set. He came off a bit loud tonight for my taste, the kind of loud that gets in the way...

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I’m judging you, Boston (part six)

Prelims 7-8 of the Boston Comedy Festival contest had Rich Ceisler hosting and doing plenty of time both up front and between acts. At one point during Prelim 7, Ceisler decided to rip the Herald. “If it happened today, it’s news to us,” he said. Hey, Ceisler. Here’s something happening today: You’re not in the contest. So stop hogging the stage as if the judges will notice, and let the contestants get to their sets. And when you’re offstage, stop talking so loudly that the contestants can hear you. Just a thought. I could write an entire post about some of the varied hosting performances during this contest, but it’ll only keep you from what you’re really after. The recap! Prelim 7 (in order of appearance): 1) Valarie Storm: With a few drunks sitting front and center, things could get ugly. They do, but not before Storm gets through her time, focusing on the funny relationship issues between men and women. Ho. Hum. But she gets props for timeliness by singing “The Divorce Song” for Whitney and Bobby. 2) Korte Yeo: A good bit on why black-out stories never have happy endings. The drunks up front start hearing things they feel they can relate to and respond to. Not a good thing. 3) Mary Beth Cowan: She has fun with the companywide e-mail, but a lot of her punchlines...

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I’m judging you, Boston (part five)

If you thought prelim 5 of the contest proved tough to judge, what to make of prelim 6, which had comics all over the map from good to bad to ugly? Well, let’s attempt a recap! Prelim 6 (in order of appearance) 1) Dana Eagle: The old I may look prim and proper but I’m crazy trick. Perceptive self-reflective opening line: “Number One is good at the end of the night!” Showed her panties for laughs. It worked. Talked about the phenomenon of tattooing one’s backside. On hers it’d say: “Road blocked — go around!” 2) Rich Aronovitch: Horshack’s kid is pretty funny. But. As he even remarked, “I open with porn, I close with porn. I do Holocaust jokes in the middle.” 3) David Reinitz: He opens by telling people not to read the paper, so he’s automatically not funny in my book. Not funny! Closes by reading the side effects of ads for Zocor, Viagra. But he does accurately point out that having Southwest Airlines as the festival’s official airline sponsor is ridiculous, since Southwest doesn’t even fly to Boston. 4) DT Owens: Church and bible jokes, from a guy from Birmingham, Ala. Who knew? 5) Dale Jones: Ernest Goes to Jim Carrey Camp. 6) Shane Mauss: Is there an applause break curse? Shaner gets one on his first joke! (Kelly Mac got an applause break the...

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I’m judging you, Boston (part four)

What do comedy contests and criticism offer to the stand-up comedian? Validation. Feedback. Two things most comics desperately desire. Or, another way to look at it: Am I funny? Why did they think I wasn’t as funny as that other comic? At the Boston Comedy Festival, the annual stand-up contest has its own quirks. Among them, the lack of feedback. The comedians who don’t place in the top two (or three) have no idea what happened. Did they get disqualified or penalized for going too long? In Seattle, everyone in the room, audience included, knows if a comic goes over the time limit by seeing the red light. In Boston, you don’t know Jack unless you ask Jack, the volunteer with the pen flashlight. Also (and I hate to keep using Seattle as the reference, but it’s the one I know best), all of the comics know where they rank each night, from first to last, and that allows them to gauge what’s working and what’s not. So perhaps having me judge one of the prelims (I got asked to fill in at the last minute) will offer even more guidance and feedback. For instance, the scoring system. Each judge is asked to give a comic from 1-10 points in the categories of stage presence, originality, audience response and judge’s opinion. Top score, then, would be 40. On my...

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I’m judging you, Boston (part three)

Prelim 4 is when everything you thought you knew about the Boston Comedy Festival contest went out the window and onto the bricks and cobblestones below. A much stronger field of contenders — perhaps five or six of the 12 comics could’ve landed the two semifinalist slots. And yet. Well…let’s go to the recap. In order of appearance: 1) Jim Tews: Remarks on his Coast Guard past and how that’s not exactly the best thing to have on his resume. Has interesting uses for the memo line on checks. Being poor is the difference between bologna and ham. “Bologna tastes like failure.” Closes with a letter he wrote to cigarettes not long after quitting smoking. Understated, but quite funny. 2) Stewart Huff: Looks like a mini-Me Mitch Hedberg, but with a Tennessee drawl (and lots of other differences, but enough about that). His mic gets disconnected early on, which could spell trouble (they eventually trade out mics later in the show). Most of his set revolves around hick gas stations — the “pump-n-munch” — but it’s a fully-formed, solid routine. A good start to the show. 3) Benjamin Roy: Drinking, jail, sex, in that order. It’s funny, yes, but too raw for this type of contest. 4) Danny Rouhier: If you go to his Web page, you’ll see a Current TV video titled: “Are you a hack?” Rouhier ends...

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