Day two of the Charleston Comedy Festival was a busy one, with back-to-back shows at Theatre 99 and a Stand-Up Showdown at The American Theater.
We started at the American, which opened its Art Deco doors to a modest but enthusiastic crowd for the Showdown with Tone Bell, Travis FromLongville, and Nate Bargatze. These out-of-towners can claim recognition from the likes of NBC and Conan O’Brien, and covered ground that went from good-natured and silly, to incredibly dirty, back to silly with a dash of awkward.
Bell probably had the hardest job, since he went first and had to warm up the room (and as those who’ve been there know, the American’s high stage and conference-room feel make it a challenging venue for comedy, which always benefits from a few dark corners). But by the end of his 30-minute or so set, he had us all laughing away. Especially at that naked grandpa bit.
FromLongville had a slightly different experience, as unfortunately, his brand of dirty and, well, kinda mean, comedy didn’t fly too well with the crowd and there were a few uncomfortable silences. To his credit, he kept on going unapologetically and walked off stage with the same swagger he’d walked on with.
After a cute joke to lighten the mood by Derek Humphrey, a Theatre 99 company member and host for the evening, Bargatze came on stage and totally killed with stories of possibly blind men and the particular difficulties of being married to a comedian. We couldn’t get enough of this guy.
Dashing over to Theatre 99 to catch the 10 p.m. show, we ran into the stand-ups, who were also on their way to see the improv groups Three Men and a Little Lady and Cats Hugging Cats. Though we arrived a few minutes late, we were able to sneak in and watch these local faves as they created ridiculous scenes with the help of audience suggestions.
Three Men and a Little Lady stuck to absurdities like pathetic stalkers and noisy cubicle mates, while Cats Hugging Cats kept things weird with human-animal transformations and the occasional pun.
Mellow Mushroom’s L’After Party was our next and final stop. The Mellow was decidedly not mellow Thursday night, as badass band Dante’s Camaro had taken over the top floor and was banging out their hardcore remixes of everything from Lady Gaga to Prince. The party seemed to be sharply split between Dante fans upstairs and Comedy Fest participants downstairs, partly because conversation was impossible anywhere near the band. Our ears are still ringing.
By the time we left at 1:30, the Dante crowd had almost completely dispersed. The comedians, however, were still going strong downstairs and if we know comedians (and we think we do), we’d bet it was quite a while before that party broke up.