This is a post in which I eat some crow.
Effin Guy and I think we are hilarious. Not quite stand-up/ late night/ get your own HBO special funny, but we can get a few laughs and perhaps work a room. We share a love of comedians; there are quite a few I listen to and keep on rotation on Pandora Radio. I sometimes quote the comedians because, well, they have a way with words which I covet and aspire to achieve. When we hear that they are coming to town, Effin Guy grabs tickets and we head on down to Helium Nightclub, what seems to be the only comedy club in Philadelphia, and check them out. For the most part, the shows are a blast. There has been some misses such as the Groupon for a comedy workshop which allowed for tickets to a very bored and unfunny comedian who smoke and drank while onstage during his act and he seemed as anxious as the audience to get out of the club. This was the preface to the “workshop” which was actually a commercial for the series of comedy classes taught by a guy named Brad Trackman. The workshop was us listening to Brad tell us all about the comedians he knows, sharing some tips, and letting us know that he was short on time because he had to move that day.
We returned a few months later when Effin Guy won tickets to see Christian Finnegan and Christian was super funny. He was worth the two drink minimum and made up for that messy workshop we attended. I even tweeted Helium an apology for the trash talk I did when it came to Brad and that unfunny show.
Back in August Craig Robinson was the headliner at Helium. I am familiar with Craig from The Office, This is the End and Hot Tub Time Machine and when Effin Guy got the tickets I was stoked. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was game. When we got to the show the vibe was so different. Bouncers yelling and tense, demanding ID. A line for people to get into the club for tickets was out of the door. The buzz in the crowd was a little more…strained. It’s always pretty crowded trying to get into a show, on the the night Craig was there, it was nuts! Attitudes and not enough people to seat and control the crowd. The security was really hype. Snatching phones away from people despite not having issued the warning of “no pictures,” yelling at people who even had phones out and just being extra hostile for what seemed to be no reason. And, to add insult to injury, Craig didn’t even come out after the show, which was just loud and not funny, to greet people! When we chatted up one of the guards, he said that they got the word last minute that Craig Robinson was going to be in town and that he wanted to perform at their club. They were not sure what to expect and was just as in the dark as the rest of us.
Craig refused to leave the club until everybody left and I felt a little gypped. The show was only so so and loud and just a disappointment for a person expecting laughs and getting some messy piano jazz thing. Do these performers owe me anything, no but treat your fans with a little consideration.
We waited for a while and chatted up the guard who shared that they were on strict orders for what they had to do with Craig which included clearing the club, making sure everybody left and no meet and greet. Which was only for us little folk as Ryan Howard, yes that one who plays baseball, was in the audience and he was ble to meet Craig and yes, I feel some type of way about sitting through an hour of loud music and yeah…
I think I was so bummed because a week earlier we were at the club to see comedian Tom Segura. The crowd was relaxed, the guards were chill and after a hilarious show Tom not only did a meet a greet, but he took pictures, chatted with us, listened to Effin Guy’s and my chatter about routines and it was a fun night. I didn’t feel like my every move was being clocked by guards who were spoiling for a confrontation or rushed as we made our way through the line.
But Craig Robinson left such a bad taste in my mouth that I fussed about Helium Night Club whenever I could. Effin Guy and I were thinking of attending the open mike night Helium hosts and I crossed that off my list. I tend to have a salt the earth attitude (yes, I am petty at times) and I almost let myself get caught up. When Effin Guy told me Gary Gulman would be there I had to put my Helium hate aside and get ready for the show. Gary is one of my favorites on Pandora, I’ve watched all of his specials and I was psyched. His delivery is priceless. He breaks down jokes almost nitpicking, but it’s sarcastic and silly and just enjoyable. I made my own station for him and often find myself cracking up listening to him.
When we got to the club I asked one of the bouncers if he was going to check my purse and he declined. I talked about the Craig Robinson show and the guard shared that that show was full of complications and most of the hard and fast rules were from the performer and not the venue. The crowd was really relaxed, there was the inevitable cattle herd feel as we were waiting to get into the club and be seated but there was none of the threats of cutting people for cutting in front of them as was heard during Craig’s show. There was none of the anger that seemed to move through the crowd at the last show and it was good show. The emcee was funny, the two openers were funny and Gary was such a great storyteller that I picked up some tips for myself for work (yes, story time will be a comedy show). Better yet, the meet and greet. He seemed to want to know if we liked his show, he was happy to chat with us and gave great hugs. Sure, he was selling his CD but so what, it was totes worth it and we left happy and satisfied.
So I share all of this to because I really want to know, is it the vibe of the crowd which makes people react in a way? And by “vibe” I mean that the Christian, Tom and Gary crowds were predominately white and the guards were pretty relaxed. There were a few of the security guys who do their jobs with the intensity of a 1000 burning suns but I’ve never been a bouncer so I suppose that is the way to react to people acting a fool. The Craig show was predominately people who are Black and from talking with security I can see that there were other challenged going on.
Also, do performers owe their audiences anything? We paid for and got a show but then what? Is it our due to meet the performers or should we just be happy that we saw the show? Should we be satisfied with any show we see? Three out of the last five shows we saw were entertaining but those odds leave me less than enthusiastic.
So, dear readers, I ask you, what do you expect when you are out for the night? Do you feel like the crowd dictates your night or are you immune to the mob mentality? Do you expect more from your performers? Or is it a matter of get what you get?
I really want to know.
Beeteedubs, I had a great time and Gary and Tom Deyo, one of his openers, told a few jokes which weren’t dirty and allowed me to share with my mom and The Bee and I am STILL laughing. This is mentioned to say that the night wasn’t a complete bust. Google Gary and grapes. You’re welcome.