Formerly known as Laughs on the Landing, the St. Louis House of Comedy on North 2nd Street, presented by St. Louis comic Dee Lee, showcased sixteen comedians vying for a coveted spot on Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam hosted by DL Hughley.
After a long line past the bar, an eager crowd was allowed to enter the dark chambers of the comedy club in the back. The mostly black audience with pockets of awkwardly placed whites and ''the Asian guy,'' Dee Lee pointed out, made up the 200-plus audience. From casually dressed to the formal, the room was not lacking in ''Apple Bottom jeans and boots with the fur.''
Patrons scurried to guard seats, while clutching their beers and brightly colored mixed drinks, only to be redirected by the bouncer. Couples, groups and reserved guests got the VIP treatment of center seating complete with candles, numbers and frequent waiter attendance, while singles, such as myself and late-comers were shuffled off to the side in bleacher-like seating.
Upon finding a seat, I was told there was a two item minimum on drink/food purchases I must make in order to stay for the show. Unable to justify buying two of anything, I just sat close to other people’s drinks. ''Why yes those are my two cups. I’m all set, thanks.''
My seat found me next to comedy house regular Kathy, who was there to support comedian Frank L. She was prepared to let me know the good, the bad and the ugly of the evening roster. Kathy said to be a good comedian she thought they needed to have new material and a signature joke, but the worst thing a comedian could do? Stop talking.
Her view was not unlike that of Def Comedy Jam producer and scout Bob Sumner, who said comedians need originality, stage presence and a point of view.
The show began with host Dee Lee, who started out the audience with a few jokes on racism, mixed heritage and funerals causing a laughing uproar before introducing the first act Andrew, a local comedian. The comedian went from topics of assault, Rent, fat people, gays and for fun, a little WWII humor.
''If Adolf Hitler were still alive do you think he would have a MySpace? He’d probably delete six million of his friends,'' Andrew said. Ouch.
After the delayed laughter from a joke about the Holocaust -- followed by a shout of ''stupid white boy'' -- I knew the evening was off to a great start. So, jokes about WWII? No dice. But jokes about race? Yes.
Dee Lee re-energized the crowd with a few more jokes and encouraged the crowd to scream a ''Hell Yeah'' before he would continue the fun.
The rest of the comics, some good and some cricket-sounds-awful, tried their hardest to win the crowd with jokes about George W. Bush, sex, relationships, weight, and the ever-popular topics of the night: race, gas prices and blow jobs. Of course, each comedian made a point to make a shout out to the ladies and encourage them to make noise.
And while most of Matt Collins' jokes were generic, for some reason -- maybe it was his hyper stage act or the fact that he danced and exposed a thong he was wearing -- I was most impressed by Collins, who told the crowd how to speak in ''white guy'' and divulged his interest to date a black girl.
After several hours of comedy passed and my seat mate left for the evening, I was able to snag a seat in the front for the final acts. Just call me Table 14. However, the drunken remainder of the crowd was no longer obliging, yelling and booing through the last few comedians, who were lackluster and obviously last for a reason.
On my way to my car, I reflected if I ever wanted to be a comedian, as long as I stuck to race, sex, current events, blow job jokes and gave a shout-out to the ladies, I would be in the clear to becoming the next St. Louis-inspired version of Bernie Mac.
Because if nothing, I’ve learned audiences on the Landing love a good blow job joke. Hell yeah.
- Recap and photos by Nikole Brown