So a few days ago I accidentally learned that D.C. was putting on a comedy festival. How did this happen? I follow California Tortilla on Twitter, and they're one of the sponsors of this festival. They tweeted that they had tickets for the opening act of the show to give away to the first person who could identify the person that's on the soda machine at all of the California Tortillas. I knew the answer was Bad Bob (puts soda in his water cup) and Good Bob (puts water in his water cup). I E-mailed in the answer, and won the tickets.
So now I had tickets to see the opening show of the Bentzen Ball comedy festival in DC. What this meant was that I would get to see the main act of Patton Oswalt and several other comedians on Thursday night. I invited Brian to go along with me and he was down for it, so the plan was made. Happy hour at Nellies, then off to see comedy.
As usual, Nellies was fine and there was good food there. Tonight we tried the quesadillas, and they were pretty good, so I'll have to remember them for when I am likely to be in there during the Ravens Monday night games this season. One of these days I will get around to trying the arepas, but it just wasn't happening tonight.
We get to the Lincoln Theater, and for whatever reason, my name was not on the list for the free tickets. However, I had made the (now wise) move to print out the E-mail exchange I had with the rep from California Tortilla (I later would tweet their account to let them know of the near-snafu). The woman at the ticket booth let me in, though they said since I didn't have a physical ticket, if I left the theater, I couldn't get back into the show. Fine by us as we had no intention of leaving until the show was over.
Just like with any comedy show, things got started late, but the show itself was worth it. First it was a speech from DC Councilmember Jim Graham, which was then interrupted by Matthew Lesko (he still wears those fucking question mark suits) and they did some shtick. Then we got to the scheduled comedians. Tig Notaro started off the set, and cracked us up immediately with talking about how comedians always take the mic out of the stand and then pick it up and move it out of the way, and they always seem to move it a bit further as the show goes on until they're going to complete their set. She then walked the stand down into the audience. Lots of jokes involving L.A. and the dealings with her friends, she was funny.
Rory Scovel was up next and his set was more like he was having a conversation about his experiences as a stoner, but there were some funny bits in there. I enjoyed it.
Ian Edwards just about had me on the floor at times, and then he'd say something that would have my jaw drop. He is not for everyone because he will talk about some of the most screwed up things, which I won't even name here. Maybe that's why he writes for "The Boondocks" TV series, I could easily see him having Huey talk about the same things that he was speaking abut on stage.
Mary Lynn Rajskub (AKA "Chloe" on 24) was next in line and had a decent set going, though I think this could have been the first time she's worked with a DC audience. I don't think this could have been her best work, but I bet she'll do much better the rest of the weekend. I did like her story about being asked to be on a panel discussing counter-terrorism in DC and the offer made her wonder if the folks who asked had forgotten that she's not really some computer genius who can call up the schematics on a nuclear bomb at will.
Kyle Kinane did well and got us all going, his humor tended to be more self-depreciating about his looks and attitudes.
Todd Barry just didn't do much for me with his comedy. I don't know if I just wasn't in tune with his style, or if he was falling a bit flat.
Now we get to Patton Oswalt and man oh man, I don't think Brian and I stopped laughing much through his whole part of the show. There is now some new vocabulary in my personal dictionary thanks to him. Not only can people be affected by "swamp ass" but they can also have "gravy nuts." One of his other stories was about working with a magician comedian years ago, and because the magician had gotten gypped on a part of his payment for the evening, he "hate-fucked the audience." Patton also spent a good amount of time talking about some of the changes that having a kid has brought on, including the crazy situations he has ended up in thanks to the lack of sleep. His bit about his genius friend with the prodigy two year old was pure gold though.
So with a starting show like that, I have some pretty high hopes for this festival. If it's successful enough, they'll bring it back again next year, and I certainly hope they will. Unfortunately I won't be able to catch the end show, which is Sarah Silverman, but maybe next time around. I'd also like to see Lizz Winstead if there's a shot at that.
Of course, I should thank California Tortilla for the opportunity to be able to do this. It was definitely worth my time.
If you're in the DC area this weekend, I would encourage you to try to hit one of the acts. If for some reason you can't get tickets, you can always drop by Ben's Chili Bowl. It's open mic there for any of the comedians who are working the show to drop in and do some of their material. The idea of being able to grab a half-smoke and hear some comedy actually sounds pretty appealing right now.