There are certain chunks of entertainment that I don't want to say "define my generation" because I don't think we have generations any more, right? That's for old people? But things that indicate to me that this person and I are generally coming from the same place. Douglas Adams books. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Office Space. But one of the biggest ones of these is a deep and abiding love for Mr. Show.
I'm not going to geek out about it because if you love Mr. Show you love it and if you don't you don't, but there are so many actors that came out of that show, and I feel like it is my duty to support all of their careers: Bob and David, of course, but also Brian Posehn, John Ennis, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Tompkins, Jack Black, and a bunch of other people. Whatever, so I'm a nerd.
Our story starts with Paul F. Tompkins. He is a very funny man. He often calls into a radio show that I like. He has a new CD out and was doing stand up last Friday and Saturday in support of it, so Frank and I decided to go see him. Like on a date. "How nice," we thought to ourselves. "We will go see some comedy, then get some dinner, as though we didn't share an address and still had to do actual activities to spend time together.”
Now I see a decent amount of comedy. I'm not one of those groupies or anything, but I go to shows medium often. I guess, though, that I've been spoiled. I generally see people that are described by newspapers as "indie" or "alternative" comics, and I never could figure out what that meant. Are there comics that are on major labels? Did they just mean as opposed to Carrot Top? I didn't know. But the way those shows work is that you go to a rock-type venue, pay $5-$10 to get in, stand up the whole time, purchase as many or as few reasonably-priced drinks as you wish, watch the show, and leave whenever you please.
So basically, a normal bar experience with a small cover and a series of funny people on stage saying stuff. Sometimes there would be folding chairs. Having stayed far away from anything that called itself a "comedy club" it never occurred to me that there was any other way. Like I said, I was spoiled. Thank you Patton Oswalt or whoever it was that thought up the idea of booking comics to rock clubs. You are my favorite person.
Because though Paul F. Tompkins was very funny and awesome, the venue in which we saw him--Comix with an x--was very not. I guess I should've been clued in by the fact that it was in the Meatpacking district. I mean, what kind of gungy, cheap-drink-based place could afford that kind of rent? But since the cover was $20, I thought maybe that was how.
Oh no. We got there early because our trains aligned just right, and even though it was mostly empty it immediately felt like "this is not the place for you." You know? Like when you walk into a store that seems normal but you get that feeling, then you look at the price tag on a t-shirt and it is $450? Anyway, we got shown to our seat and the first thing our waitress said to us was that there is a two item minimum. "Not just drinks," she said, as though she was saying something helpful. "Food counts too." A group down front near the stage consisting of two grandparents, two parents, and two grown up kids was eating dinner already. This, to me, was a bad sign. First of all, it was 7 pm. Second of all, what clearly was a crappy sandwich with fries cost $20. The cheapest wine by the glass on the menu was $9, and it was not good wine.
As people filed in, it just got worse. More grandparents with grown kids (which, no offense, I love my Nana but I don't know that I'd take her to see a comedy show filled with swear words and dick jokes,) people on first dates, a group of ladies on a girls night out, tourists.
The couple to the right of us seemed to be on a first or second date, and had uncomfortably ordered two rounds of Diet Cokes, I assume because of the awkward this is really expensive and I’m not sure who’s paying thing. I actually heard someone order "a kamikaze, up." Not kidding.
We finally settled on an overpriced bottle of wine to which a mandatory 18% service charge had helpfully been added. Thanx, Comix! Seriously, I have never felt more shaken down. There were bathroom attendants. At the end of the night, you couldn't leave until you got a pink ticket from the waitress proving that you'd purchased and paid for your mandatory items. Not even counting the ticket price, we spent as much as we normally would on a "nice" dinner out. We ended up going home and making tacos for dinner. We are not wealthy people.
It was like the cliché of what grown-ups do for a good time—drive in from Westchester to go to the overpriced comedy club and have some expensive sandwiches. I was just glad that Frank and I had known each other for four years instead of having to be like, "Yup. This is what I took you to on our date. So, wanna have sex with me now?"
Anyway, like I said, Paul F. Tompkins was really funny. I don't blame you, Paul F. Tompkins. But no matter how much you love a comedian and want to see him or her perform, do not be lured into Comix with an x. Nobody on the planet is funny enough to wipe the depressing off of that place. I thought if my experience could save anyone reading the pain of Comix, especially on an awkward first or second date, then the whole thing would’ve been worth it. So there you are, internet: where not to take your lady or gentleman friend. You’re welcome.