Saturday October 5th, 2013 – Rosemont, IL
I don’t ever intend to stop being a student of the standup comedy game, and that means I won’t ever stop learning – and hopefully growing. I remember seeing an interview with Keith Richards where he had the enthusiasm of a nine year old as he spoke about still learning guitar techniques.
I had that same enthusiasm tonight as I watched Carl LaBove headline at Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, IL for two rocking shows. I have been a fan of Carl’s for decades, and tonight was a refresher course for why that is. He put on a clinic, and I took notes as he lit up both audiences.
There are so many things I like about Carl as a performer I almost don’t know where to start. It doesn’t even include the things I like about him as a person, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. He could be an arch criminal who tortures kittens, but I’d still admire his performing skills.
For those that don’t know, Carl was one of the original “Texas Outlaw” comedians along with Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and several others who started in or around Houston in the early ‘80s. It would have been very easy to mimic the style of someone as influential as Kinison or Hicks, but Carl was and has always been completely true to himself as a performer. His style is all his own.
That’s difficult enough as it is, but being in the shadow of not one but two legendary acts is an oddity for the ages. If anything, Carl had influence on them because of his amazing performance skills and natural stage instincts. He’s a trained actor, and freely taps into that to add to his show.
I’ve never seen any comedian act out a premise better than Carl. He becomes the character he’s talking about in a particular bit, and often takes it farther than where 99% of other acts would go. It’s a joy to watch - especially since I know what he’s doing. The audience doesn’t have a clue.
Acting out a bit is a way to add extreme depth to a comedic idea, and I’m getting a lot better at it myself in recent years. It’s a technique I didn’t naturally embrace at the beginning, but it’s now one of my favorite ingredients to add to my own comedic stew. Some acts use it, others won’t.
I love Dennis Miller’s style, but he didn’t act out one bit when I saw him last week. He stood at the microphone and rattled off a series of jokes. They were great jokes, but that was it. Carl is all over the stage like a jumping bean, and uses every inch of it as his playground. I’m like that too.
There’s no real right or wrong in either style, but I find Carl’s and my way a lot more freeing to be able to have more performance tools to utilize in a given situation. Dennis chooses to do what he does, and it’s been tremendously successful. It’s like a band choosing to include horns or not.
Another strength I admire about Carl is that each performance he gives is his individual gift to that particular audience. Small or large, he crafts each show to the fit of the room and whether an audience knows it or not they’re seeing art being made in front of them. Very few acts can do it.
Carl’s jokes are funny, but combined with his dynamic act outs and individual improvisational skills, he’s an absolute monster and one of the best acts I’ve ever seen. Why he isn’t a household name is beyond me, but I’ll always be a fan. I hope you’ll enjoy him too. www.carllabove.com.
|Carl LaBove - a master comedian of the modern era. See him live if you can.|
|If you can't see him live, Carl's CD "I Used To Be An Outlaw - What Happened?" is funny too.|