Comedy with a cause

While the Democratic Party was busy deciding who won the Iowa Caucus with a literal coin toss, Bernie Sanders’ Cleveland supporters came out to Make Em Laugh Mondays at Grog Shop to promote their candidate with a night of comedy.

The audience reflected Sanders’ support base—mostly white—and the hosts, John Bruton and Nelsin Davis, immediately engaged the room by pointing that out. The pair’s jokes about the audience were fun and light-hearted, establishing a comfortable atmosphere and providing a promising start to the evening.

Although they introduced the first comedian, Jasmyn Carter, as a rookie, her innocent twist on the standard sexual joke was refreshing. Since each comedian had a very limited amount of time, she spent most of that time doing a bit about dry humping. While that at first seemed too tame to be funny, her frankness and outright ridiculousness made the bit hilarious, especially when slipping a finger into someone’s “penny pocket” turned out to maybe not be a euphemism after all.

Unfortunately the comedian who followed set a very different tone. Intending to continue with the sex jokes by talking about the conception of his children, John Collins immediately stepped into uncomfortable territory when he said his second child was conceived during “rape … role play.” Too drunk to notice the sudden silence that had fallen over the audience, the comedian continued. Eventually he moved on to equally uncomfortable territory, describing how, because his stepson is black and he’s white, people think he’s kidnapping his stepson. Even though the audience was predominantly white, most people seemed to recognize that there are some things that just might be too racist to laugh at, especially if you think about how true the perceived discomfort of the situation would be if the pair’s races were reversed.

When Bruton and Davis finally had to walk on stage because the comedian had gone over time, it almost seemed as if they were lying to him about his time limit just to get him off the stage. Luckily they managed to ease the tension in the room by sarcastically calling out the racism in the act and just blatantly admitting it was awkward.

From there, the acts were either great or just average. Comedians introduced as regulars always delivered, but after an hour into the show the audience was so distracted by their own chattering it was difficult to enjoy the show. Few comedians managed to captivate the audience’s attention, and by 11 p.m. the highlight of the show were the conversations between a drunk Bruton and a much more sober Davis, which included some much-needed passive aggressive jabs at the audience for talking during the acts.

While the show itself was entertaining and it would be worth going to the next Make Em Laugh Mondays on Feb. 15, the distracting audience at this show took away from even the best performers.

Show: Make Em Laugh Mondays-Comedians for Bernie
Venue: Grog Shop
Date: Feb. 1
Rating: ★★★☆☆