Comedians You Should See at Guilt and Company, Sept. 18, 2011

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You’re probably thinking: Sean Emeny, Simon King, Brett Martin, Carter Hortie and Kelly Dixon on one bill, FOR FREE, and she only gave the night a 3/5? What a bitch!

Well, yes, I am a bitch. But that’s not why I didn’t give the night a 5/5 – the audience and the room itself bear the majority of the blame. Don’t get me wrong, Guilt and Company is a beautiful space. It looks like it was carved out of Anderson street specifically to serve as a venue for comedy. But the atmosphere is horrible. The boardgames on offer and candles on the table lead me to believe they’re going for warm and friendly, but they wind up at pretentious and cold.

And, of course, the kind of people that hang out in a place that brings board games to your table isn’t always the crowd you want at your comedy show. There were frequent interruptions by drunks having loud conversations, couples feeling the need to mount each other in public and hipster girls screeching when they lost at Jenga. And the management did nothing to stop any of it. It’s downright disrespectful to the comics, if you ask me.

Now, Comedians You Should See didn’t charge cover for the show. Sweet of them, don’t you think? But when they passed around a donation bucket at the end of the show, I noticed a lot of people who didn’t contribute. It’s a free show, guys. I know you’re broke. We’re all broke. But these guys just worked their asses off for you and you can’t even bother to throw in five bucks? That’s an asshole move. (I might have forgiven people for not donating if they’d been a little more receptive to the jokes and a little less focused on their Scrabble and make-out sessions…)


Carter Hortie didn’t do much time because he was MCing. Which, by the way, he does well. He gets in the audience’s face when they’re not energetic enough, and audience really needed that. I kind of wished he’d done a bit more time, though. I haven’t really gotten a feel for the breadth of his material because every time I’ve seen him live, he’s been MCing.


Hortie really does work wonderfully with the crowd. He draws attention with some dirty jokes and always makes sure he’s nice and loud so you can’t turn away. It is unfortunate that, like Amanda, I’ve only ever seen him MCing, but if what he does in that position is any indication, a feature spot for Hortie would likely be a hell of a good time.


As I’m sure you all know by now, I’m a fan of Sean Emeny. He describes his jokes as “not objectively funny,” which may be true. But he always delivers them in such a way that they are, in fact, subjectively hilarious. He tried out a few new jokes during this set, and they did not disappoint. But, irritatingly, his set was interrupted by a couple of drunk guys talking very loudly about how it was their Saturday night. On Sunday. The noise did screw up one of his jokes, but Emeny didn’t let it rattle him. He just riffed on how stupid they were a bit and went back to his otherwise excellent set. I didn’t feel like the audience laughed as much as they should have, but I may just be biased.


I’m always excited when Emeny goes on stage, because I know the audience is in for a good time. Emeny knows when something is funny, he knows when something doesn’t work and he knows how deliver his jokes well. It becomes clear that he really lives and loves comedy. And he had people hooked at Guilt and Company, especially when he made note of the noisy patrons mentioned above. Emeny is a crowd-pleaser, no doubt about it.


Simon King’s writing never fails to blow me away. I’d heard a fair few of the jokes he told this time, which could have been a bad thing. But with King, it’s not. Hearing his jokes again gives you a chance to really appreciate the subtlety and ingenuity of his writing. Unfortunately, I felt like he got a rather mediocre response from the audience. You’d think a crowd of hipsters would be able to keep up with a high-speed social commentary/pop culture reference-fest…but it really seemed like they couldn’t keep up. Or maybe they were just agreeing blindly and didn’t realize he was also making jokes. Even more unfortunately, that sort of thing does seem to happen to him fairly regularly. It’s like people don’t expect to hear smart things at a comedy show. I blame TV.


King is one of the best comedians you can see in the city right now. Sure, the crowd was pretty tame with their laughter on this particular night, but I believe that was because they were busy taking in the wisdom of King. He is a smart comedian with though-provoking material that, while not always guffaw-inducing, is definitely always enjoyable. Sometimes you can just sit back and take in what King has to say and still be as satisfied as when laughing out loud.


I don’t really know what to say about Kelly Dixon. He freestyled quite a bit, which worked for me. But his set didn’t seem to go over very well with the room at large. He has great presence and he’s fun to watch, but other than that, I really don’t have much to say about him yet. I’d like to see him a few more times so I can get a better handle on who he is, comedically.


Dixon goes with the flow, and since the flow of the room up to that point had been relatively tame, and everyone just came back from a 10 minute intermission, I wasn’t surprised that Dixon’s material was low-key. He tried working with the audience, but they weren’t giving him much to work with and that freestyle form clashed a bit when he then moved on to pre-written jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy Dixon, but I need to see him again at another venue to get a better feel for him.


I haven’t made my mind up about Brett Martin yet. His set went over fairly well with what was left of the audience after intermission. And he was working on some new jokes (most of which weren’t bad.) I laughed quite a bit. But I wasn’t left with that excitement you get when you really connect with a comic. Maybe that had something to do with the new stuff. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that Martin’s set was interrupted by drunk talkers AND Jenga-playing girls. And a whole slew of people decided to start walking around aimlessly. It was highly distracting, and nothing was done about it. So maybe that was why I wasn’t fully engaged and enjoying it. I guess we won’t know for sure till I see him again.


Ending the night with Martin certainly “ended” the night for me. It seemed like Martin was a bit uncomfortable on stage, especially since just before him were three comics who made it look like second nature being in the same spot. Maybe it was the fact that he was trying new material, but that isn’t really an excuse. Whatever the reason, he didn’t look like he was ready to be up doing comedy, and the translated to the audience, who were being as tame as they were for Dixon.

Ultimately, though, I think the biggest buzz kill of the night was the intermission, because breaking up the flow of funny when only four comics are set to go on stage was simply not a good idea.

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