John Mayer at the Comedy Cellar

So I finally got to witness Grammy-winning rock star John Mayer perform stand-up, as he dropped in at the Comedy Cellar late Saturday night (well, 1:39 a.m. Sunday) and did an eight-minute set. What’s to say? The guy is a rock star. Which means he already has command of the stage and is comfortable putting himself out there — that’s more than half the battle for any aspiring stand-up. As for the material, it’s not bad. You cannot hang around guys like Sherrod Small and James Smith and not learn a thing or two about writing a joke. Mayer got a few big genuine laughs from the surprised crowd. The one line I distinctly remember was one of Mayer’s first quips, about catching flack for dating celebrities. "It’s f*cking people from work. That’s what it is."

Stand-up comedians will tell you that a great set feels as close as they can get to being rock stars. And you can find more than a few comedians who have performed in bands themselves. Heck, Todd Barry just played drums with Yo La Tengo last week. Many actors similarly have attempted success as musicians. Who’s to begrudge a guy like Mayer for trying to be a comedian? Especially if he’s coming at it from a sincere and honest place. Trying to earn his laughs. Just like any other comedian. I’ll give him credit for that.

Related: Mayer and others got feted Monday by Cosmopolitan for being "fun, fearless males." In his Cosmo interview, Mayer talks about why he does stand-up. Cosmo: Are you funny? Mayer: "I don’t know. That’s why I’m so
compelled to try it: because I’m not
sure whether I’m funny or not. I
don’t make people laugh that much.
I like a beating. That’s my problem."

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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