Stand-Up Comedians Hope To Stand Out With Weekly Gigs
A recently arrived comedian is trying to see just how tough a room the city really is.
Stand-up comedy has not been one of the most vibrant performance arts in Anchorage.
But now a recently arrived comedian is trying to see just how tough a room the city really is.
We ventured out to the S Lounge on Gambell last Sunday night, to catch one of the weekly open mic shows being staged there.
The organizer, Kelly Lee Williams, started things off with a hip-hop parody of opera.
"What's up, brother / what's up, brother, what's up / homey, what's up / homey what's up / how have you been / just got out of jail / did you escape / no I made bail / I gotta go / I gotta go watch the P Diddy show / the P Diddy show."
Williams has been multi-tasking since his arrival in Anchorage three years ago, DJ'ing parties, portraying Barack Obama in the recently concluded revival of "The Whale Fat Follies" at Taproot and acting in the movie "Everybody Loves Whales."
"I met Drew Barrymore; Drew Barrymore put her hands on my chest. Didn't look at me in the face, but put her hands on my chest, and that counts."
His Alaska adventure was sparked by the vice presidential debate in 2008, in which then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin remarked on the permanent fund dividend available to state residents.
"My wife and I had six kids, and I told her to send up a resume, and Providence Hospital got that resume; a few weeks later, they flew us up; six weeks after that, we're moving."
The Chicago native was not impressed with what he saw in local stand-up comedy.
"I wasn't going to do a comedy open mic room until I decided that I didn't really believe anyone else was going to do it right. Yeah, that's narcissistic and arrogant to say. But it's the truth. People need to learn how to run a comedy open mic; a comedy show in general."
In the movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” director Woody Allen has actor Alan Alda portraying a TV producer repeat ad nauseum the line, “If it bends, it's funny; if it breaks, it's not funny.”
"The male comics are actually, some of them are a little bit too much on the sexual side. It's very easy to tell a sexual joke because it's something everyone understands and it gets a snicker."
Williams has been mentoring the local comics and is presenting several of them every Sunday night at the S Lounge.
One reacted to our presence at the last show: "I work for a news organization so if you could not show this to anybody at your work that could possibly hire me in the future, that would be really nice. I'll just pretend you're not there; just pretend i'm not here."
Another told an art joke about the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
"There's a depiction there of God reaching down from the clouds to touch the hand of man, just like this. And I just know that Michelangelo was painting that the whole time giggling his ass off, going, 'Go ahead, pull my finger.' "
And of course there are the crude jokes.
"I couldn't decide whether I wanted to hike, bike, paint my garage or just get blind drunk and pass out on my lawn naked. I know -- these are the choices I have."
Williams has statewide ambitions.
"I’ll go anywhere. Juneau. I'll go to the villages to do comedy. I want to do comedy everywhere. I want to go to barrow. I seriously want to go to barrow and do a comedy show."
Today Williams said he confirmed that he will open for comedian Wanda Sykes at the Dena'ina Center September 17.