Thursday night was a good one for my first visit to Crackers in Broad Ripple. I'd come to town a few days before to start a NUVO internship, leaving behind Athens, Ohio, where I go to school and I've done stand-up comedy for a year-and-a-half. My buddy and I ended up at a table too close to the front for comfort; we would've been ample prey for foundering standups if two young girls in low-cut dresses and a lone wolf of a middle-aged man hadn't ended up in the front row.
The show opened with the evening's host, a parody rapper named SeanieMic. After a few sort of juvenile numbers that "Weird Al" wouldn't touch with a ten-foot accordion, he got big laughs with a song about quitting Facebook (to the tune of OutKast's "Ms. Jackson"). It was his second night hosting for Crackers in their big room, and it sounded like he had a few tables of friends in the room. He wasn't afraid to get goofy, and he set the blue tone for the night with his parody of R. Kelly's "Ignition": "Ejaculation".
Bill Gibson kept the crude times rolling. Between attempts to flirt with a nurse in the front row, he must've used the word "tits" a dozen times. Mixed in with the ruder stuff, there was some funny insight on single fatherhood and being a bald, overweight white guy. He had a self-deprecating swagger that was refreshing and risky; usually when comics want to poke fun at themselves, they aim for an easy target (say, a weight problem). Instead, Gibson, upbeat even when dealing with dark material, zeroed in on his family's depressing history of alcoholism. Gibson shows a lot of promise when he doesn't rely on sex jokes, when tend to mark a stand-up comic still finding his or her voice.
For inspiration, he might turn to the night's headliner, Rachel Feinstein. She got blue, too, but for good reasons. Between the lines of her sex stories and jokes about penile enhancement infomercials was some nuance, including revelations about relationships between lovers and families. Feinstein also manages to mine the Jewish experience for comedy without resorting to stereotypes, like when she Imagines what it would be like to have a Jewish mother in the room with you while trying to talk dirty to a partner.
Feinstein works in an array of impressive impressions without asking the audience if they're interested first. Most of them are as much auditory as they are physical, and they liven up her time on stage without stealing the spotlight from the material. Not every joke landed with the audience, but I I got the sense that Feinstein isn't broken up about sending a few over the heads of a crowd if it means she gets to tell the jokes she wants to. The whole set had an authenticity to it that SeanieMic and Gibson haven't found yet. That's why the blue stuff worked, and that's why Feinstein was the headliner.
Crackers is putting Feinstein up four more times - twice Friday and twice Saturday - with Gibson featuring and SeanieMic hosting. It's worth checking out if you want a good taste of New York comedy, appreciate comics with a developed worldview or think that funny Jewish girls are kind of sexy.
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