In a place as cold as Boston, it's good to find some humor on a dreary day. But it's also no wonder that the three comedians of Alt Com!, each regular performers at Somerville, Massachusetts' renowned comedy festival, would jump at the chance to fly south and spend a weekend in Charleston. With a Comedy Central special and a major Hollywood role among their accomplishments, this trio is poised for stardom, but for all three, it's their first visit to the Holy City. They're old friends, so expect a bit of solo work from each before they join together in spirited song (and dance?).
The real money in comedy, as Micah Sherman will tell you, is in endorsements. And the beauty of Sherman's gig? He doesn't have to wear his TD Banknorth or Amtrak hat when he's up on stage. Sherman just dons a giant bread costume (with interchangeable Velcro sub-fillings) and pals around for a day with stars like the Red Sox' David Ortiz.
As a "mascot" for D'Angelo's Subs, Sherman did just that. For a Reebok lacrosse gear commercial, he improvised a scenario about cutting the first knuckle off a buddy's pinky, which soon leads to chicken wings being thrown across the room (Reebok used it). And for Dunkin' Donuts, he dons a mustache and demonstrates the latest dance crazes among middle-aged men.
"I actually auditioned with a mustache because I was playing a child molester in a play, but I had to shave it because the (play) director was like, 'That's actually a little bit too much of a molest-ache,'" recalls Sherman. "Then they called me in for the commercial and said, 'What happened to that mustache? That thing was terrific. That's why we cast you.' So they gave me a fake mustache."
Sherman's also an actor, appearing as Matthew McConaughey's best man in last year's Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and has a significant role in the upcoming rom-com, The Heartbreaker.
The native of Chapel Hill and University of Georgia grad has made his name in Chicago, New York, and Boston without ever performing in Charleston. But maybe while he's here he can pick up a Firefly Vodka endorsement.
Up north, there's a whole band of vegan comedians waiting to up-chuckle that burger right out of your stomach fluid. Myq Kaplan even named his new album Vegan Mind Meld after his eating preference. He and two other vegan comedians (including one called 'MC Mr. Napkins') even put on a vegetarian-themed comedy show in Boston.
Despite naming his album after it, don't expect Kaplan to spend too much time in his routine harping on tofu. He'll likely reference his ethnicity (Jewish) and joke about being gay-friendly (his wife is "half gay"), and then strum some tunes. Songs with rhymes like "abortion" and "good fortune," or "holocaust" and "salad tossed."
Kaplan's masters degree in linguistics from Boston University serves him well, providing a mental dictionary of rhyming words that he can access while onstage. He grew up playing Scrabble with his grandmother, a memory that even made its way into one of four 30-second shorts he recorded for Comedy Central. After appearing on The Tonight Show for the first time in December, he'll star in a 30-minute Comedy Central special on April 30.
Even with all that success and a brain to boot, Kaplan's not afraid to get up on stage and rhyme "kimono" with "cum-on-yo."
After eight years fronting and touring the country with his punk band, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Ken Reid moved to London. In 2003, when his work visa ran out and he found himself with nothing to do, he took up stand-up comedy. He moved home to Boston and started performing between sets for his friends' bands.
"That was a good trial by fire, because those people do not want to see comedy," says Reid. "They want the DJ to play something between sets so they can talk to girls. They don't want to hear you making lame jokes. But I figured if I can not get killed doing that, then everything else is pretty much easier."
Reid's self-deprecating routine draws strongly from a childhood of watching television. His parents were poor, he says, but they could afford a television to babysit him.
By day, Reid works at a health care company, handling claims. "I'm one of the people that decides what we pay for and what we don't, which people affectionately say, 'Oh, you're a death panel?'" says Reid. "It's incredibly not funny, boring stuff. I usually take jokes from jobs, but not from jobs I'm still employed at."
In his only south-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line appearance prior to Charleston, the life-long Beantowner traveled to Texas to perform.
"The guy right before me was referencing the second Bush election, and he said, 'He got a mandate.' Then he says, 'What, do I live in Massachusetts?'" recalls Reid. "Then they introduce me from Boston. It's probably not best to rile up a whole group of Texans."