ASPEN, CO – The second annual Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival kicked off last night in strong form, with a show featuring Ted Alexandro, Laurie Kilmartin, Will Durst and Dan Cummins.
Of this group, the younger Spokane, Washington-based Cummins had the most to prove, as he found himself performing in a lineup of incredibly seasoned and well-respected comedians. But for the past few years Cummins has built a strong name for himself in the national comedy scene, buttressed by high profile appearances on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and his own half-hour special for the network. Last night, he gave the Wheeler Opera House audience a peak into some of the material we’ll be seeing on his hour-long special, also for Comedy Central.
The biggest draw of Cummins’ comedy is the ease and matter-of-fact tone he employs to drop some of the most absurd shit that even the most jaded comedy snob has never heard, namely the concept of the “tooth gremlin.” You see, in Cummins’ perfect world if a child puts a cavity-torn tooth under their pillow at night, the wee one should get a visit not from the tooth fairy but from the aforementioned gremlin. And the gremlin’s calling card? “He rips out the rest of your teeth and kills your parents,” Cummins explains. Also noteworthy was the Aspen crowd’s relative silence when Cummins exclaimed, “I don’t give a shit about polar bears.” Perfect. I can’t wait to see more out of Cummins this year. Check out a clip from his appearance on Live at Gotham below.
|Dan Cummins – Helping the Homeless|
Kilmartin had a masterful set soaked with delightfully dark takes on her son’s existence, telling the crowd upon hitting the stage that she feels a little fat— that it’s been eight months and she still hasn’t lost any of the abortion weight. And that is what makes Kilmartin so damn fun. She’s a 43-year-old mom who knows you can still love your child – her son is actually two years old – and simultaneously say horrible shit about him in the form of well-crafted jokes to make a room full of strangers laugh. “Imagine how much you love your pet,” she says later in her set, explaining to those without kids how powerful a mother’s love can be. “Multiply that by .7 and divide that by four.” Awesome. Check out the clip below (she did this bit last night), filmed at last year’s Punchline Magazine anniversary show at Comix in New York.
When San Francisco-based Durst hit the stage, he proved that he doesn’t shy away from labels. “I’m a political comic,” he said, adding that means sometimes there just isn’t shit to talk about. “It’s hard to mock hope,” he said, referring to our country’s new administration. As you’d expect then, a lot of his set dealt with the former President and his many foibles; the thing is, Durst brings insight and theater to his bashings—something most anti-Bush comedians can’t seem to do. Durst is equal parts wordsmith and comedian and the comedy community has known that for years. Check out an installment of the Rooftop Comedy-produced Burst of Durst, wherein Durst opines for 60 seconds on the news of the day.
Fittingly, Alexandro closed the show and did so with what has become his twisted – yet measured – outlook on life. There’s a lot of comedians out there one would consider edgy for any number of reasons: For example, Jim Norton is edgy because he enjoys getting defecated upon (and talks about it onstage); Doug Stanhope is edgy because he seems to have a complete disregard for the concept of tradition. Those two dudes are clear in their intentions from the minute they step onstage; they’re angry and intense.
Alexandro, however, paces the stage slowly, speaks deliberately and inserts pregnant pauses between thoughts to draw the listener in closer. In short, his tone and presence doesn’t always fit the mold of a comedian that, would, say go topical with a joke about pirates and then turn it into a joke about rape. He explains that he’d be too overzealous to become a modern-day pirate, showing up to the first day of work decked out with eye patch and a sword ready to pillage and rape. Because, really, “permissible rape is one of the reasons you might want to be a pirate,” he explains, adding you’re not allowed to rape people as a mechanic.
At this point a man yells “Vikings” from the audience. “Are we making a list now?” Alexandro says. Another shout from the crowd: “LA Lakers.” In a completely ad-libbed moment, Alexandro responds: “If you’re going to get raped, you could do a lot worse than Kobe Bryant.”
Alexandro rounded out a lot of newer material with some of his hits, namely his hilarious chunk on Jesus, specifically the Abs of a Savior workout and the What Would Jesus Do? blow job bits; the former goes back to his 2004 masterpiece As Much as You Want. Check out the video interview I did with Alexandro from a few months back.
There’s three more shows at the Wheeler tonight for the festival: the Best and the Brightest, Rooftop at Large and After Dark. Check out rooftopcomedy.com for the full lineup.