Saturday, January 17, 2009

COMEDY FEST SCENE: Rory Scovel and John Steinberg

Posted by Erica Jackson on Sat, Jan 17, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Stand-up can be tricky. Sometimes awkward — no, usually awkward, and more often than not, capable of imploding in a matter of minutes. Not the case last night at Trio, where I was glad to get to see Rory Scovel and John Steinberg, two guys in their 20s hailing from New York and Canada. I arrived right before the show began, at which time they were already turning away the last eight or so people in line.

The gig was kicked off by a 28-year-old Rory Scovel who quickly addressed the floodlights pounding his face onstage, equating the stage with a landing strip for airplanes, and how amazing it would be if one landed in the middle of his act. OK, rough start, but the rest was great. Scovel, who comes from New York and is originally from Greenville, is a blond self-proclaimed pothead. He appeared on Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham" and I can see why. Scovel wasted no time getting started, discussing everything from the shitty weather he wasn't expecting from Charleston to the facility of throwing blind friends surprise parties. What stood out was Scovel's strong ability to improvise, and that, combined with some solid original material, made all the difference. He was animated, but not in an over-the-top obnoxious way. His sign off was a reference to the Mayan prediction of 2012 as the end of the world, commenting that based on the onset of our "recession" and the way we live, they might be right. But, he adds, this would be OK because it would mean that we'd actually get to live out the movie Terminator. "2012. If you don't have a gun, you're good as dead." My favorite joke of the night was a hilarious depiction of how awesome it is driving a car while on mushrooms. "If you have ever wanted to ride on a spaceship, that is the closest thing to it."

The second act was John Steinberg, who at first glance resembles something between Bob Dylan and Cosmo Kramer and speaks like a lock-jawed grandpa, all enveloped by the type of look only someone as high-as-balls can pull off. Faced with an already giddy crowd, he got a bunch of laughs off the bat from some weak jokes, creating a focus group in the front row to get the audience to get everyone participating, but not really knowing how to handle them when they responded. Steinberg picked it up after about 15 minutes, however, talking about being high and how it makes everything slightly deceitful, like the grapes with seeds he accidentally bought at the grocery store. His best joke was about Philip Morris Co., which, Steinberg recently discovered, owns Miller Brewing Co. and Kraft foods. "That means that the same company makes beer, smokes, and mac 'n cheese" he said. "The government might as well send them the welfare checks."  —Hadley Lyman


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