Review Brooks & Crowley
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CELEBRATING BOSTON COMEDY Happy International Joke Day!
If you paid your $10 to enter and acted like an adult, they knew you weren’t there to fight. You were there to shut the news off, escape the internet, and let someone be funny. It’d lift you from whatever moment you were in, whatever mindset, so you could just laugh. You can always tell when a new guy from out of town hadn’t been part of the Boston comedy scene before. New York comedians usually walk into a lion’s den! Their whole flavor of stand- up is different. For example, everyone loves Jerry Seinfeld, but his brand of observational comedy would’ve never originated from Boston. Boston comedy is definitely self-aware, but it’s also confrontational. It is no holds barred, and you don’t take prisoners. Comedians from both areas are self-deprecating and critical of total strangers. Yet our crowds are fairly diverse in background — whether by ethnicity, class, or education — so whenever you're in a comedy club, the sense of humor relieves tension and brings people together. That comedy culture isn’t very common in other cities, and it makes our crowds great for comedians to test out material. You can tell from the incredible comedians, comedy actors, and writers who thrived here: Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, Steven Wright, Bill Burr, Jim Gaffigan, Patrice O’Neal, Dane Cook, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, and Joe Rogan. The list goes on. Most people already know the people on that list, so I will give a recommendation of someone who isn’t on it but deserves to be: Sebastian Maniscalco. He actually didn’t grow up here, but
“A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently it wasn't first place.”
I have good news! International Joke Day is on July 1. But it seems like we all really needed it to come sooner. While my family and I have been doing well, this year has been famously terrible for the country at large. It’s as good of a time as any to remember one of Boston’s core influences on American culture and national television (pre- pandemic, anyway): our sense of humor. Comedy is something we take for granted growing up around here. If you were free on a Thursday night and you knew a comedian was showing up at a joint nearby, it was easy to go after work and hang out there. Going to a stand-up performance or a comedy club was something people would just do. It didn’t matter if you were a Harvard student or a brokenhearted Red Sox fan who needed some local humor about how terrible the season was going. (They’re doing way better now, but back then? Man, comedy was all we had!) You had a drunken heckler sometimes who’d be yelling at the stage, but the comedian would exchange riffs with them and shut them down. That’s the Boston comedy scene for you. There’s another reason why comedy clubs have always been popular in Boston too. Nobody ever carded you. They weren’t really night clubs, and they weren’t really bars, but they had drinks. You could go there even if you were underage and order a drink without anyone asking questions.
his mannerisms and comedy fit the scene so well that it’s shocking he grew up anywhere else. If you like very confrontational humor, Bill Burr has some of the most tightly written jokes you’ll ever hear; none of his sets are ever meandering, and he’s an amazing performer. Lastly, you have to check out Steven Wright. I’d seen him up to 10 times before he became famous, and you should’ve seen the way Boston crowds would react to him. He’s a clean comedian that looks like the craziest professor you could imagine, and he killed it almost every night. I like to say that in Boston, we push comics to their full potential before we unleash them to the world. We’ve been a driving force in American comedy for decades. So, this year, celebrate International Joke Day by sharing a few laughs with your loved ones. Maybe crack a few extra jokes of your own, even if your daughters give you that look. –Steve Brooks
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