Sunday, August 03, 2008

Funny Thing About Vegas- The Short Bus Comics

There are plenty places in the land -that- sobriety- forgot which will gladly take your cash, shuttle you to a seat behind a six foot wide column or a guy who used to star in the Lakers, and leave you to wonder if there is a seven drink, $50 per bottle, cash only bar. Most shows here cost as much as a gallon of gas, or around a car payment, whichever is less this week. If you take more than one person with you, then you can write off any hopes of retirement, college for your kids, or even food for your family for the next two years or so. And, each guarantees a show of a lifetime, but often leave you wishing you had another life all-together.

But, sometimes you can find something that is within a price range that mere mortals can muster. Within those choices, you can even find people who perform with their clothes ON the entire show, but often those aren't as fun as those which offer alleged titillation. If you want to see a headliner from the big billboards you can likely find them singing karaoke at a local Italian eatery on Sunday nights, and I will be telling you more about that local gem in weeks to come. This week, I'm filling you in on a show that is about to open- which means you can see it before anyone else. You can certainly brag about it and bring friends the next time you swing on by without the chance of losing your mortgage payment in doing so.

For only $15 a person, you can sit in a theater that offers a stage so close you can practically smell the cologne of those standing or sitting by the microphone. The Short Bus Comics, launched by Roman the Serial Comic, starts in September for a run, that will likely be years, in a theater that tricks you. The trick? You walk through a store which sells vinyl and leather clothing, and no, that doesn't include back-to-school togs. Sitting merely yards from the infamous Green Door swingers' club, and only a few parking spots from the Michelen Star rated Lotus of Siam, the Onyx Theater hosts this weekly event.

Las Vegas is home to dozens of comedians who you would probably never think lived so far from Los Angeles or New York, and many of us prefer not to drop the "F" bomb every show. Of course, some of the same people drop pants without blinking, and that makes for an unforgettable night of the comedy that is now becoming the staple of most cities- the Alternative Comedy Market. Those of us who prefer this form of expression are now becoming the driving force of humor.

What does that mean? Does that mean that people sit in chair covered in feathers and talk like Andy Kaufman? Does that mean that you'll need a thesaurus just to comprehend the new language spewed at an alarming fast or slow pace? Well, sort of- but not at all. Stand-up has become the platform for the wit-challenged over the last fifteen years. Where you once could see a person chatter about the current events or the life of confusion led, you now hear a somewhat coherently, morbidly inebriated, video-game addicted and MySpace bantering unemployed college drop-out utter nothing but "yeah right?" to his or her friends in the audience. It's just that bad. To find a group of comedians who are not only intelligent, but interesting is now the alternative to mainstream stand-up.

Alternative Comedy turns out to be a better alternative for those completely disenchanted by the comedy clubs around the country. You will not only find people are giving you a real show, with content, but you become drawn to the notion that comedy once and will once again be about making people laugh, and not about the bar sales. In fact, in the Onyx, you won't even FIND a bar, although you can get tanked at one of several bars within walking distance if you are eager to do so. The people behind the Short Bus Comics are only about the idea that comedy is about performance and entertaining the people who paid to sit and laugh. Roman also promotes something that many people miss about comedy clubs- the idea that entertainers are, indeed, entertaining.

The people who want to watch those shows are also an alternative to the crowds who just seem to want to bark back to the people on stage, instead of allowing everyone else to enjoy themselves. Because of the change of crowd, Hollywood has wooed the stars of Alternative Comedy to studio contracts. Eddie Izzard is a prime example of someone who just doesn't fit into the stereotypical stand-up role. He manages to talk about European Renaissance history, in high heels and a better shade of lipstick than most supermodels own, ripping most spectators stomach muscles up from fits of laughter. Izzard is the consummate Alternative Comedian, bringing a supremely devout following to each night he takes stage.

Short Bus Comics provides something even unusual for the Alternative Comedy realm. This is a show where you find an ensemble of individual performers. One week you may find the emcee to be a person who has headlined the week before, or a headliner doing a short set another week. The rotation provides a fresh approach, and allows enthusiastic fans to see favorites on any given showcase. And, unlike many shows in town, you will find something new every time you see it. For a taste of what I mean, you can visit and check out Brandon Muller's Mime Freak, the spoof of Cris Angel that is far more than the magician could ever pull off- it's good AND funny.

Don't be afraid of the Onyx location. It's just north of the Stratosphere, in a shopping area that has more traffic than most casinos on payday. There may be a few Sin City exclusive stores there, but the venue offers more entertainment than any other theater in town. The price is far less than you would pay for a lunch buffet. The show starts September 26th, and runs every Friday night after that. And, there's a chance that someone you see there could be the next headliner in town. It's that good.

Cathe Jones is the author of "I'm Just As Screwed Up as You Are- the Anti-Dr. Phil book", and "Godless Grief". She was a regular at Los Angeles Second City, the Comedy Store, and currently is a Short Bus Comic, while her husband, jazz pianist Mike Jones, opens and is musical director for the Penn & Teller show. They reside in Las Vegas with their 50 rats, 5 chinchillas and 3 cats. Kids not included.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

shortbus comics...cant wait till it starts ! !