Colder inside than it is outside, where it's single digit Celsius, the table comes with a bill already hit with a tip before taking a seat. A rerun of Saturday Night Live rolls on, rolls out and fades to black as the stage is taken alive. Three comedians in a row, but the room is already off their face before the first act is up.
Warming the freezing club, a suit takes the mic and turns out not to be the manager of Comedy Off Broadway. Scott Wilson is the first comedian and is the tall type with a look of asking people how their trip up to the city is doing for them. Through the haze of what is a routine featuring local news, there's a weather report and a reminisce of the icy conditions of the roads and streets around the Lexington area.
Next fake out is Mike Thompson. Clearing his throat and testing out the span of his jaw for about five minutes, he's off as quick as he is on. Quiet takes a bigger lead as the crowd warms up with drinking diluted beer and sorbets as daiquiris.
Glasses are down and done. Time for the main act with another round as the night's headliner and the name on the tickets, Ian Bagg, steps up.
Shot straight out and rapid fire, the comedian delivers a solid punch about someone watching a football game on their phone before the spiral begins. The night is young and in front a heckler emerges.
Possibly a war veteran, the heckler nods loudly and is vocal about how much and how relatable the jokes are. Prodding Bagg about his lean against the brick wall backdrop, the comic points out that it's his crutch as much as the cane is the old man's. Laughter.
And despite that, the night is lost, the game is gone. The set is asunder with the upkeep of keeping down the rhetoric and pointless and endless replies and shoutouts from the dark.
A haughty volley, stage right. The ruckus rears and a gathering enters the disruptive fray. It's the one with the mobile phone carrying the football game. We have loopback.
Tables turn on each other louder and louder, at one point leaving nothing but for everyone else, everyone, to sit back and let the warring hecklers have at each other.
Shifting the sights, the comedian veers to engage with the other half of the room. Promising, the effort starts, but is disappointing as the mothers and couples shoot their math skills all across the floor with a rounding error of baby weights and years of marriage.
Between the infighting tables, Bagg manages to slip in jokes about oral sex, pregnancy after-effects and the staging of a caravan town in one of the counties. Each mark hits square and solid.
Bagg asks the waitstaff to hold off serving the old man a few more rounds in, but they do only after another tipple slips down the gullet. Pushing back against the two tables, the struggle wears thin on the rest of the audience.
A challenger appears in the darkness!
Throwing fingers and pointing a punctuation to the people at her table, one girl calls herself out with wild gestures and then feigns such. Pregnant at 19. Or knocked up and easy with her husband. Or boyfriend looking for a loose girl. Whatever the story, it's not straight and takes the comic the rest of the night to steer it back to his set.
Uppity, the girl declares the entire night's act to be vile and crude. Bagg quickly doffs off the internet as a useful research tool with a side of living the dream of travelling the world telling jokes and not raising a baby at the ripe end of those teenage years. Much support and respect with plenty of applause for the man on stage. The woman storms off with a sense of the dramatic and a middle finger as a periscope.
Bagg advises the man left behind to say that he did not enjoy the show on the ride home even though he did. Tells jokes and works on doomed relationships. Free tickets too for his next appearance to those signing up to his mailing list right after the show. Many do.
Who knows if Ian Bagg has pocketfuls of insightful material beyond the glimmers from the hem? From the scent, at least he knows how to deliver laughs while fighting back and smacking away the heckling and the crowd intrusion.
We're talking about the 19:15 set on 15 January 2011 with a 15% gratuity added. Who knows how the crowd was on his set right after at nine.
Reviewed on Sunday, 23 January 2011