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December 1, 2010

Comedy: Funny people

Six Louisville comedians make each other laugh -- R-rated

Friday night might prove to be the most exciting night of stand-up comedy this year. “Stochasticity” is a show developed by comedian De Blennis (who will act as emcee for the evening) that features five of his favorite young, up-and-coming local comics — Lindsay Boling, Raanan Hershberg, Mark Parris, Patrick Passafiume and Sean Smith — for free at The Bard’s Town. LEO sits down with all six performers for a round-table discussion as they prepare for the upcoming show.

Raanan Hershberg: I don’t get it. I put the finger in the drink and you get to drink all of it. It should be the other way.
Lindsay Boling: Because I knew you were trying to trick me.
LEO: Do you know where his finger’s been?
LB: I try not to think about it.
Sean Smith: The alcohol will burn everything off.
RH: I have been trying to get to my prostate when jerking-off lately. I just stick my left one really far up there. And I never wash my hands … ever. But I don’t know if I put my left one in the drink or not.
LB: I’m still going to drink this, because I know you’re trying to trick me.
RH: I’m a broke alcoholic. Me living at my parent’s house is the only thing keeping me from being a completely, already, fully adjusted homeless person.
LB: So … what do you wanna make this about? Idiots? It should be idiots.
Patrick Passafume: I promise, all of our jokes aren’t about fingering your asshole while jerking off.
LB: We also have smart jokes, too.
De Blennis: I like my smart with a dash of dick joke.
PP: A smart dick joke? I like my dick joke with glasses.
LB: If you tell a dick joke and have glasses on, does that make it “indie” or “hackey”?
LEO: Emo … ish?
SS: Emo dick joke?
PP: My dick is sad.
DB: When it cums it just goes … “Who cares?”

LEO: What was the genesis of this show?
DB: The word itself means randomness, everyone’s asking about that. But I started doing stand-up (at The Bard’s Town) once or twice a week not long after they opened. Eventually they told me if I wanted to put a show together … go ahead and do it. So I did. I literally called everyone I thought was funny, and they all said yes. There’s a lot of young comics in Louisville, but I think these guys are the best. They’re all smart and they have a very defined point of view … which is rare.

LEO: So who’s the funniest?
LB: Are you really going to ask us that? Sean just won a contest.
RH: Actual answer: Secretly everyone thinks they’re the funniest, but some have more proof of that than others.
DB: Some of them have a piece of paper in a frame given to them by the owners of The Improv.
LB: A lot of comics think they’re the only person doing comedy, and that they’re the funniest one ever, and they get pissed off when other people get work.
PP: I’m sitting right here. You basically told me my whole life in a nutshell.
RH: I think I’m the funniest, but I definitely think other comics are more successful … I’ll admit that. Because they are a lot more successful. I admit that Lindsay gets more work than me … I have to be very humble to admit that.
DB: The reason I wanna emcee this show is because I think they’re all funnier than me.

LEO: What are the favorite shows you all have done?
DB: Raanan, you did a show with Richard Pryor, right?
PP: What he said was that he’s funnier than Richard Pryor.
RH: No, no … Richard Pryor’s more successful than me. I will admit that Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld, they’ve all made more money than me. Or made money … at all.
Mark Parris: David Crowe was my favorite show. He does this thing where he opens for himself as a different character … it was hilarious. And he was really nice, too, that’s important. I’ve done shows where the headliner won’t even talk to you.
DB: I did a show at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival — I was staying in an apartment in Over the Rhine, and realized that Cincinnati is just a ghetto with a baseball team. But I was meeting artists from Toronto, England, New York … just giving us great advice.
SS: Nothing really stands out … I’ve worked with really old people and jerks.

LB: I have a question … sorry I’m taking over. When you guys are onstage do you all play to your crowd or just do your shit and not give a fuck?
MP: I did a show at a church once. It was all old people and kids. I wasn’t about to drop my dirty stuff. I just did all my cleaner stuff. It was all 12 and under, or 60 and over.
LB: Twelve and under were there? That would literally be my worst nightmare.
RH: You have to be a hack in the beginning. When you call someone an actual hack, it’s really when they’ve done well enough where they actually have the choice, and they can still do okay not being a hack; but they choose to be a hack and make more money. At this point, none of us are making enough money to actually make that choice, so you can’t call anyone a hack. At this age, in what we’re doing, we don’t have the self-sufficiency to choose. I’ll suck a dick on a commercial and say Jeff Foxworthy jokes. What’s it matter? We need money. We’re all whores.
DB: I did a show at Bear’s once. It was in the summer so no one was there but a bunch of 50-year-olds … and they heckled me. I did a joke about teen pregnancy, and a guy yells, “Hey, you gotta problem with teen pregnancy?” I was like … “I guess I do.”
RH: It’s a college crowd, and they’re all a bunch of politically correct pieces of shit.
PP: It’s only in Bloomington, though. I got booked for a couple of colleges, and I thought they were going to be the worst shows ever because I did Bear’s to college crowds, and they hated me. I did UK, they fuckin’ loved it. I did West Virginia, they loved it. I’m like, “What the hell’s going on in Bloomington that makes these assholes so politically correct?”
RH: They’re a bunch of annoying, liberal fucks in Bloomington.
LB: Make sure “annoying, liberal fucks” makes it in there.
RH: They’re awful. They were offended by everything. They were offended by a whole bit I did about gay people that was … like … I think it was supporting them. It was about me being gay or something … they were just offended that I said the word gay.

LEO: You emcee a lot of shows. Will your mindset be different being the features on this show instead of the emcee?
LB: Oh for sure, because I’ll do whatever I want.
DB: Which is funny, being the emcee, I’m not gonna give a shit.
LB: And we’re not at a comedy club. As an emcee you’re so at the mercy of the club, because if they don’t like you, you’re out. You don’t have anything to fall back on as an emcee.

LEO: So is it somehow more tolerable to bomb as an emcee?
PP: Yeah, because it’s not your job to be funny.
LB: I mean, you walk onstage, do the announcements, do your shit, and leave. Sometimes you walk off wanting to commit suicide, but I guess that’s how it goes until you start featuring.

LEO: As up-and-coming comics, what do you think about the venues for comedy in this city.
RH: Louisville essentially has two comedy clubs. I think it has more people that like comedy than like comedy clubs, so there is a big demographic of people that would like to see comedy — but don’t wanna see whatever star of “Friday 4” is at The Improv, or Screech (from “Saved by the Bell”). The clubs don’t get anybody from Louisville, there’s nothing grassroots here.
DB: You can do stand-up anywhere, but if you’re going to do it anywhere, make sure it’s funny.
MP: I like some of the open-mics outside of the clubs — where you get extended sets, like 20 minutes. We need to do 20 minutes, that’s important. We need to do 20 minutes, that’s good for us to do right now.
RH: I don’t know. You look like a dick if you come after some 60-year-old woman reading poetry about some woman she ate out the other night; it’s really sincere, no one’s laughing. And then you come out telling jokes, and it’s just awkward. You look like a sarcastic piece of shit.
LB: We are sarcastic pieces of shit. We’re not normal people.
RH: I mean really, sometimes with open-mics, there are people where it’s almost embarrassing to be sharing the same stage with them.
PP: Again … I’m sitting right here.
RH: At these “try-anything-and-express-yourself shows” — when a comedian comes on, you just look like a dick. Unless you’re Sean Smith.
SS: I kinda like those situations.
RH: That’s because you’re funnier than me.
SS: I like to play to my weakness. There’s a lot that you can learn from being in those situations where you actually have to turn a crowd around. It’s not like the format of a comedy show, where you can say, “They didn’t laugh because X,Y & Z happened beforehand.” Just fuckin’ be funny. Get up there, be funny, if it doesn’t work, then you know it’s not funny material. Anybody has the ability to turn a crowd around, you just have to figure out what the crowd is into, or what they’ll let you be into — so that you can get them where you want ’em.
PP: I’ve been wanting to get my mime on for a while now, and there’s no avenue for that here. I can do a mean “trapped in a box,” I’m not gonna lie.
SS: There have been times when I really thought he was trapped in a box. I broke out the hammer and almost busted his face before I realized there was no box there.

LEO: Comedy Caravan and Improv have very different audiences. What kind of audience do you expect to show up at The Bard’s Town?
LB: I’m hoping that friends of ours who haven’t come out to The Improv or Caravan at all will come out. People that are sick of going out to just bars and wanna come out and see a comedy show — and do something different for the night. But we’re still at a bar, so you can drink and have a good time.
MP: My friends know all of these guys’ names, but they haven’t seen them all perform. Now they may have seen Patrick and Lindsay — and not seen Sean and Raanan — so hopefully they’ll come out because they know they like this kind of comedy.

LEO: Passafume, you pulled your testicles out onstage with Doug Stanhope …
RH: I’ve wanted to do that before.
PP: But you had a boner onstage … and you weren’t wearing a shirt.
MP: I’m really sad I missed this.

LEO: I only bring it up to ask, is there a length you all wouldn’t go to for a laugh? Does too far exist?
RH: I will not kill a Jew to get a laugh.
SS: There’s not supposed to be … but I think there’s always somewhere you draw a line personally. You should go for anything you think is funny.
PP: If it’s too easy, I won’t do it.
LB: We’re always trying to make other comics laugh, so you’re constantly trying to push the line. Because comics laugh at things that are taboo, the worst the joke the more a comic will laugh.
RH: Would you show your breasts for a laugh onstage?
LB: Umm, I don’t think that would be particularly funny … so probably no.
LEO: But would you pull your testicles out?
LB: I have pulled my balls out before … so I’m not opposed to that

Stochasticity
Featuring De Blennis, Lindsay Boling, Raanan Hershberg, Mark Parris, Patrick Passafiume and Sean Smith
Friday, Dec. 3
The Bard’s Town • 749-5275
1801 Bardstown Road
Free; 9 p.m.

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