Having 13 people performing on one stage in the same night can be a significant challenge to any promoter. Particularly if half of those people are comedians and require the attention of everyone one in the room to be effective. However, Ryan Holman has quite a bit of experience at comedy/music fusion and has certainly found the equation for success at this point. Step one: Book bands that can absolutely captivate even the most passive of audiences; Step two: Find the perfect mix between local and out of town comedic talent; Step three: Find someone to MC the show leaving yourself feel to handle anything else that comes up.
Although I listed it as the 3rd step having another person MC the event is a great place to start. Lara Beitz did a great job of MCing the even. She opened up the evening with a few minutes of her own act that got the night off and running. After joking about getting attacked in Riverwest and saying the best rape defense would be to mention your AIDS medication, Lara introduced Ryan Mason. Ryan suggested that the scariest guy in your neighborhood would ride a children’s bike, wearing pink bows in his hair. Next, having recently won the Milwaukee’s Midwest Comedy Competition, came Dan Ronan who, as a recovered drug addict from Chicago, commented that the closest he ever gets to the rush of drug use these days was Nyquil. Also from Chicago, Jonah Jurkens provided the ultimate exclamation point to the first part of the show recounting a jealous fantasy about his girlfriend as a Fantasia fountain of fifty dicks. I’m sorry if you don’t understand what that means, I guess you will have to see Jonah in person to find out.
And as long as I am suggesting your future entertainment possibilities I can not speak highly enough about the first band that played Way Yes (check out wayyes.com to find out more). This four piece band out of Columbus, Ohio brought it with a high energy albeit short (25-30 minutes as to fit the flow of the evening) set. Way Yes brings an intriguing mixture of Calypso and rock’n'roll together through their use of prerecorded samplings, and their stage instruments including two guitars and two drummers which allows them to bring a lot more of a powerful sound to the stage than perhaps the previous description implies. Recording all the samples themselves, with a few other musician friends, the band was quick to distance themselves from the word “sampling” when I approached them after their set, not wanting to be grouped with artists like Girl Talk who as fun as they can be are really just pointing and clicking on a Macbook on stage. And rightfully so, the talent at work on stage is definitely worth your time and a couple internet clicks if you ever get the chance.
After a short break Lara Beitz got a second crack at the audience telling several more jokes before bringing the Host Ryan Holman to the stage. He was clearly excited to be able to focus on his comedy having just come off of hosting the aforementioned Milwaukee’s Midwest Comedy Competition. Ryan’s admittedly hairy body and less than triathlon fitness sets the backdrop for much of his comedy. From his proposed company “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” to the visualization of giving a raspberry to his hairy torso, Ryan brings a witty blend to his stage presence. Finishing off the comedy section of the night, Tony Tudor takes a somewhat different approach to comedy often leaving the audience muttering “that is so wrong” or “I can’t believe he said that”. Bringing the audience to tears of laughter at times Tony Tudors mixture of pedophile and masturbation humor hits on the darker side of humanity while leaving most in the audience happy to be laughing about such dark topics.
The final performer of the night was Wisconsin’s own and West Bend product Blessed Feathers who, with their unique blend of melodic guitar and banjo strumming along with beautiful harmonies, felt like an outro to the rest of the evening. Although contrasting with the rest of the performers in tone, and despite having gotten a chance to record in New York with Thor Harris (Swans, Shearwater), and with songs about Florida Blessed Feathers do not feel like some far off unrelatable act. Their captivating performance that included a four day old song showed them for exactly what they are: The perfect companion to a Wisconsin autumn. Check them out at blessedfeathers.com or when they return after several weeks of touring, which includes a handful of shows in New York, for a Oct. 25th show at Club Girabaldi with Seawolf.