A progressive comedy show for a progressive audience at a progressive establishment
It's difficult to tell dark lesbian jokes to an empathetic audience. That's a lesson comedian Christine Horvath learned during her set at the Lay Off My Labia! show at Kafe Kerouac on a recent Thursday. She talked about that observation after receiving too many “awws” instead of shocked reactions and moved on to other topics.
But one shouldn't be surprised to find a progressive crowd at an event benefitting nonprofit abortion fund Women Have Options Ohio.
So as I listened to the rest of Horvath's set, I wondered if comedians prefer to be in spaces where they can encourage audience members to move out of their comfort zones.
There were some edgy moments, like a pedophile bit that fell flat, and suicide jokes that drew more sympathy than surprise. But whether or not the attendees identified with the material, they laughed and enjoyed themselves — except for two women in the front, right-hand corner of the room. They didn't look offended, but they never even cracked a smile.
I thought that was odd because, at least to me, there were a lot of funny jokes. I'm not a comedy critic; I can just speak to what amuses or resonates with me. For example, I was interested in Bianca Moore's take on the popular perspective that the Trump presidency is beneficial to comedians because it provides a wealth of material. Moore disagreed and expressed she'd rather have a “competent president.”
I thought Dave Burkey was hilarious. He compared Steve Bannon to a pair of sweatpants and poked fun at white supremacy with a bit on the prevalence of gluten intolerance among white people. Another standout was Brooke Huffer, who focused on self-deprecating humor that included a correlation to “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”
The process behind comedy really fascinates me. For example, I paid attention to the way each comedian recalled his or her jokes. Some memorized them while others used notes. My favorite in the second camp was Wonder Doug, who referred to an outline written in black marker on huge loose-leaf sheets of notebook paper. I don't know if that was done purposely to add to the randomness of his persona, or if that's just how he likes to take notes, but I'm hoping it's the latter. I'm looking forward to seeing him again.
Prior to the show, I sat at the bar and had a conversation with a patron about racial triangulation theory, which goes to show that, in addition to being extremely hot (seriously, what's with the thermostat?), Kafe Kerouac is an organic space for progressive thought, and I like that.