Turns out I wasn't watching Lebron James on SNL and I was actually outside doing something! Yessss! I was finally seeing Jimmy Pardo at Helium doing his last set of the four night stay.
The scene was full of all of the comedy club cliches: people on dates, suburbanites in the city to experience the nightlife, and yes, even a bachelorette party. It didn't seem that many people knew who Pardo was, but merely that they had decided to see just any comedian that night.
As the crowd was filing in, Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford or someone of the Comedians of Comedy ilk would dread going out to do their set. And to a point they are right, sometimes a crowd isn't open to something new that they didn't expect. They usually want dick jokes and they want them often.
But if you look at it from the other side, it's a challenge. It's a challenge to give people something that they didn't expect and to give them a good time. And Jimmy Pardo can be pretty good at doing that. The crowd loved everything he did, even when he started out by saying what a "shit gig" this was for him. How can someone dig a hole like that and so quickly get out of it? Everyone was just eating him up.
The first thing you notice is how fearless he is on the stage. He's a ball of energy with strong opening right out of the gate, and so quick asking the questions. No hesitation and always dead-on. I didn't bring my stopwatch (who would bring a stopwatch to a comedy club, I'm not even that nerdy although I'm thinking about it now) but it seemed like at some points he was getting 3-4 good laughs a minute.
He's also a master of using his whole body for the comedic effect and at one point he delivered a punchline while inspecting a pole to the side of the stage with his hand. It's kind of hard to explain, but it made for a doubly funny joke for me at least.
How about local humor? He talked about how one of the highways, 95 or 76, he couldn't remember (it's 76), merged from four lanes to one and then said "Benjamin Franklin loved fucking one-way streets" - wait, no, not actually fucking them, although he did have syphilis, maybe that's how he got it. There was also some new material about his newborn son that the ultrasound made out to be a girl (true story), the hotel towel bit and a hilarious extended version of his Subway story that included him pretending to scratch a record until he hurt his wrist because he was so white. That's about it.
I realized that the rest of his set, which consisted of him talking to the audience, was planned material even though it doesn't seem like it. He's got some responses for what the audience gives him, but he also had to be ready for everything.
Because Pardo's act is so participatory, it can be difficult afterwards to absorb regular sets that are nothing more than the comedian saying something funny, the crowd laughing and repeat. I got home at 1 AM, just in time to catch the beginning of Comedy Central's Secret Stash presentation of the new Comedians of Comedy standup show filmed in L.A. It's really great production-wise and full of great comics, but I couldn't stay awake past Doug Benson.