In the basement of a small, worn venue with a rare “smoking allowed inside” sign out front, a ragtag group of amateur comedians slouches in chairs. The drinks aren’t flowing but no one’s glass is empty either; lighters are kept handy.
Before each act indifferently takes the stage, the MC makes introductions fit for a much larger, paying audience. The microphone stand falls lopsided from the seven-inch platform and onto the floor, setting an example for comedians to come.
The man who organized the show stumbles in late as a cheerful but sallow-faced young guy makes his way through his self-deprecating material. Hands are shaking, possibly from nerves, possibly from nicotine.
Some try to work the crowd.
“Hey, right here, what’s your name?”
“Saarah? You sound like a 10 year old. How cute. Where’re you from Saarah?”
“Saarah. Saarah. Come on, yah killin’ me tonight.”
A few jokes are told, sort of. The headliner is distracted by a man dipping his face in and out of his companion’s cleavage. Howling laughter punctuates some of the sets, but whether it is the comedian who elicited the cackles remains unclear.