This was my second time watching Iron Comic with Nato Green at Sketchfest, and I was surprised at how different this time was. Some of it made it better (more well-known comedians) and some was worse (lukewarm audience). Overall though this is a fun show that I seem to leave thinking, “I need to go to this more often” then not doing that. But maybe I’ll go again this year. The concept is pretty simple. The audience suggests topics for the comics to write three minutes worth of stand-up material on. They get about 10 minutes to work out the material while someone else does some of their more scripted work with the audience. At the end the top two have a face off and one comic is crowned the Iron Comic, which really just means they get bragging rights and a big round of applause.
The show started out with an introduction from Moshe Kasher and Nato Green. They have a really good rapport and made a good effort at warming up the audience by reading some of the more ridiculous topic suggestions. Some of these were stupid and some were surprisingly detailed. Moshe Kasher was especially skilled at reading them in a way that made them hilarious. It was a great introduction to what to expect, but the audience took a long time to get on board. In fact, they didn’t really get on board anywhere near this part, which was unfortunate and seemed a little frustrating to the hosts. No one was terrible (ok, there was one drunk in the front row that got yelled at), but, as Moshe Kasher put it, the room was “medium-paced” to say the least. I really felt like a room like Cobb’s is a little big for a show like this. The audience participation really benefits from a smaller room like Punchline.
Our Iron Comic contestants however did not seemed bothered by the lack of enthusiasm in the room and performed well. Caitlin Gill was introduced first and was probably my favorite of the night. Her material seemed much more put together than the others somehow. Her flow was great the whole time and she didn’t get confused and her timing remained spot on. TJ Miller came out next and, from the audience reaction, he was the star of the show. I love TJ Miller’s style and he did not disappoint me, though much of the audience seemed surprised by his strange and purposefully contorted sense of delivery. Maybe they expected someone in so many movies to be slicker? James Adomian was next and although he was quite funny, he seemed the most discombobulated by the format, often losing track of where he was. But when he did hit his timing right it was great. Next was Sean Keane, who was a last minute replacement for Rick Overton who had a problem with his flight. He did a great job, especially for filling in last minute. Then last but not least was the defending Iron Comic champion Brent Weinbach. He was an interesting personality on stage. He acts shy and basically hides in the corner when he doesn’t have the microphone, but as soon as he does the most creative and fascinating things come out of him. And his quick comic mind seems perfectly suited for this competition.
The flow of the evening went well and was appropriately varied. There was the aforementioned intro from Moshe Kasher and Nato Green, then the selection of the first topic, then ten minutes of standup, and then the Iron Comics came out and did their three minutes each on the topic. Our topics for the evening were “Astronauts”, “Barack Fucking Obama” and “Carnival Workers” giving the comedians a wide range of material to cover. Our featured performers we got ten minutes each from were Nato Green, Moshe Kasher and Drennon Davis (who I have seen before in this same configuration as Imaginary Radio). They were all great and quite funny and did manage to build some more energy into the crowd, even if it didn’t seem to hold for long.
All in all it made for a great night with lots of laughs. The energy in the room was a little lacking, but by the time the audience got to vote on the winner from the two finalists they woke up to cheer like crazy for Caitlin Gill and Brent Weinbach, the latter got a deafening roar that declared him the winner. I’m sure everyone left satisfied with the quality evening, at least all the laughing smiling people who walked by me as they left certainly seemed like they felt that way.