Philosopher, journalist and adult human in training.
Comedy worth putting pants on for
For the average millennial, going to a live comedy gig seems like a lot of unnecessary work. You have to leave the house, put on pants, deal with humans. All this when your warm and comfy home contains a portal to all the greatest comedians of our time. Not only can it deliver this comedy to you close-up and in high definition, the portal can make food come to your door and doesn't care what you look like or whether you've showered.
Filled with more entertainment than a single human could get through in a lifetime, the internet has taken over from the pokies as the biggest threat to live entertainment. Which is probably why comedy shows are held almost exclusively in places that serve booze. Our technology may have evolved but our penchant for alcohol has not.
With the promise of beers and multiple comedians, my friend and I ventured out, on a chilly Tuesday evening, to catch our first live stand-up gig in over a year.
The gig in question—Bookable—was part of Bris Funny Fest, a yearly event that took over where the Brisbane Fringe Festival left off. The festival's goal is pure laughter production, achieved through an alchemic union of comedians, audiences and alcohol. No two shows will ever be the same, with a variety of acts and venues. The only certainty is, there will be booze.
For Bookable, the space was provided by Saccharomyces Beer Café. If you're wondering how the hell you're meant to pronounce that, you're not alone. So not alone, in fact, the place comes equipped with its own pronunciation guide.
The joint was so full of humans it was impossible to exist without being in someone's road. And everything that wasn't a face was an elbow. With the faces close, the elbows closer and non-existence not an option, we figured the best place to escape to was the bar. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a friendly Viking who had on offer booze, cereal and a fiendishly deceptive lucky dip bag which gave you blind choice of a variety of terrible beers with obscure labels for just $6 a pop.
Faced with a scarcity of personal space, we squeezed into some seats and waited for the show to start, idly pouring pepper into the unfortunate beer to see if it'd make it taste any better (worked surprisingly well).
The beer project kept me somewhat distracted from a mild but ever-growing nervousness which always builds up in me when I watch live comedy. This may seem strange since, as an audience member, all I have to do is sit there. But I have watched comedians bomb before and can tell you it is just as painful for the crowd as it is for the performer. You are painfully aware your lack of laughter is making it harder for them. But if the jokes aren't funny, your face won't budge, leaving you no choice but to let them stew in the thickening silence, sweat and dignity dripping from their pores, while that part of you that wants to save kicked puppies rocks back and forth inside of you at the horror of it all.
It's a torturous experience for all concerned. Which is why people will happily pay hundreds of dollars to see famous comedians in oversized venues, but will hesitate at the idea of paying $10 to see up-and-comers in an intimate setting. They've already figured out they like the famous comedian, thanks to the internet, and are far more prepared to gamble with their money than their comfort.
Which brings us to the big question: was Bookable a worthy risk?
Thankfully, yes. The Bookable kids all had their own unique style and, with each one just as funny as the last, it was impossible to pick a favourite. Ryan Sims had me at terrible-Daniel-Day-Lewis-in-There-Will-be-Blood-impression, Joel Batham somehow managed to make an attitude of floppy disdain charmingly hilarious, and Michelle Azevedo had the remarkable ability to get laughs with sometimes nothing more than a well-placed lilt in her voice or shake of her head.
While Netflix and Youtube will give you laughs (and the freedom to skip a comedian without having to hurt anyone's feelings), you miss out on the best part of comedy: that shared high of being in the moment with the performer and the people around you.
My overall assessment: Bookable was definitely worth putting pants on for.