Laugh or Die
Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase Comedy Jamm
by Charmie Gholson
From the April, 2020 issue
I love comedy. Mostly because I'm determined to maintain a healthy level of faith that everything will be OK, even when we're being bombarded on a regular basis with news that everything is not going to be OK. I also believe laughter is the best medicine.
Comedy Jamm is an open mic night. When I visited, pre-pandemic, there were a handful of audience members sitting inches from the stage and about seventeen people in the far corner of the theater getting ready to perform. The room was just dim enough to make everyone look like someone I know, with the stage well lit.
Andrew Yang was our host. He started by making solid jokes about his Taiwanese parents (they told him "comedian" is Chinese for "I have no son"). He introduced the open mic participants with a roar into the microphone.
First up, an asylum-seeker from Syria who joked about immigration and praised both his "off-white color" and his hairline. Then a woman in her mid-forties told us she'd managed to lose 200 pounds: "That's like two small Backstreet Boys." The audience chuckled often. Everyone was polite, even when the jokes weren't funny. It was lovely, really.
The next guy wasn't funny to me at all. He yelled about how "shitty" Allen Park is, and how dumb the people who live there are. He said its library should have a Dairy Queen and bowling alley attached to it. I was glad when his time was up.
Ellie Snyder, who looked like a librarian, told us she's got degrees in French horn and writing--and then, with a flip of her brown ponytail, asked if we wanted to hear about her "dog shit" ex-boyfriend Brad. She said Brad "dangled an Adderall-covered donut down a drain to catch her," and she initially thought it would work out well because he has a savior complex and she doesn't have a dad.
A nice run of about five or six others followed, mostly
men. Everyone was well-rehearsed and professional. A kid who identified as "straight-edge" explained: "That means I don't drink or smoke or get invited to parties." He also complained about the terrible people at the sperm bank.
I witnessed an interesting exchange between the audience and the only black woman to perform. She said she just moved to Ann Arbor and talked about how frightening it is for black folks here what with "white college students going around knocking on doors scaring black people and talking about being in the master's program." This made a few folks upfront uncomfortable, but I thought it was smart and funny. Besides, how else do we manage the scary, ugly parts of society and our own lives?
Laugh or die, I say. Laugh or die.
At press time the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase is closed through March 31st. Programming is slated to start in April, with Comedy Jamms scheduled for April 8, 22, and 30 at 7:30 p.m. Check AnnArborObserver.com
[Originally published in April, 2020.]
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