Stand-Up Comedy: It's Like Rock & Roll but with More Assholes
Mainstream fame and success can play a part in how and what an audience member might feel the need to say during a show as well. Jim Florentine, the acclaimed comedian and host of the Comedy Metal Midget Podcast, will be making his annual appearance at the Westport Funnybone from November 15th to 17th.
He considers his experience with the club and the people of St. Louis one of his favorite weeks of the year. "It's a blue collar crowd that knows how to laugh and have a good time." He has always been determined to have a stand-up-first attitude toward his career. This earned him a reputation as one of the better acts in the business, but it has also led to other opportunities in show business.
Florentine is now well known for being the voice of Special Ed on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers, and the host of the VH1's That Metal Show. Jim knows all to well that being recognized for something other than standup can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand it can help your ability to draw an audience and can get your name out to people who wouldn't normally see a stand-up show.
On the other hand it can draw people to a stand-up show that are looking for something completely different, creating obstacles as he delivers his act. "'Are you going to use the puppet or not? I mean, I thought we were going to see the puppet.' There's a 60 year old man in the front row of my comedy show demanding that I do a puppet act while I'm trying to tell jokes," he says.
It's not that Florentine harbors resentment for the success of the TV show or the audience that it created; he just wants his stand-up act to be the focal point at his live show. "I'll do the character because I know people still enjoy it, but people shouldn't think I'm a ventriloquist. If they can't use their imagination for the visual when I'm doing the voice, they've got problems."
On many occasions he gets true fans of his stand-up act coming up to him after a show saying,"Jim, I've been a big fan of your act for a long time. I had no idea you were the Special Ed guy on Crank Yankers." His popularity on That Metal Show can be a mixed bag as well. He's done everything from comedy clubs to opening for 15,000 people in front of Slayer.
Once again it puts him in front of an audience that might not always come to a stand-up show which is a good thing. On some rare occasions, he finds some audience members that didn't come to the show to laugh necessarily. They come to discuss a matter that is near and dear to the their heart with the man they watch discussing it on their TV. Heavy Metal. "Every once in a while you will see these guys roll up to the front row of the show with their Maiden shirts on, then some time during the show they will literally walk on stage while I'm doing my act and say, 'Damn Jim. How can you possibly say that a Judas Priest song was better than a Maiden song? How could you say that?'. I'm like, seriously, do we have to do this now? Can we talk about it after the show?"
Something tells me that Steven Tyler doesn't have to answer for his choices on Idol while hammering out "Sweet Emotion" in an arena somewhere.
If you make a sound decision and decide to go see Jim this weekend, remember to recite these simple words when standing in line outside the club: Listen, Laugh, Drink, Tip.