The Accidental crew was on-scene at the Winchester on Wednesday night. And they weren’t alone by any means. A strong turnout was there to greet them. Cleveland can be a rough place for Wednesday night shows. Turnouts like these are not accidental (see what I did!) and this show was a good representation of why you should venture out on weeknights. It was also being recorded live so we were ALL a part of history!
Mr. John Armstrong started things off. I don’t think John is a member of Accidental but it was easy to see why anyone would put this guy in their lineup as a special guest. John Armstrong is funny. He has a great, easygoing and conversational feel to his set. Some comedians focus mainly on one style or genre of subjects and jokes. John is all over the map. In a great way. His subject matter is diverse. He really keeps you guessing and engaged. John Armstrong gets better every time I see him. He has unlimited potential.
When our host for the night, the illustrious Mike Polk, Jr. arrived he immediately took to the stage in a way that I would describe as “tall”. Because Mike is tall and there are only so many ways to take to a stage. Or whatever that even means. He is tall in life and short on time. It is rumored that every number on his watch has “ish” attached to it. But he got there and he started hosting. If you aren’t familiar with Mike Polk, Jr. ...for shame!!! Really though, he is very visible. He writes stuff for the PD, he has a show every Tuesday night at Hilarities and he does a bunch of other stuff like TV, radio and taxidermy. Not 100% sure about the last one but he is everywhere and it wouldn’t surprise me. He and our very own Megan Brautigam even did a little song and dance number on FOX to open their NFL draft coverage this year. So yeah, dude is pretty busy.
He quipped. He introduced. He Polk'd all over that place. It was an easy job hosting a lineup of seasoned vets.
And every hosting job is easy for him.
If you want to test your weeknight boundaries, go see “The Mike Polk, Jr. Show” at Hilarities on Tuesday nights.
It really is a great time and it always features different comedians. Tom Papa dropped in as a surprise guest the other night. TOM PAPA! So don’t miss it. I think it starts around 8-ish.
Josh Morrow was the first Accidental man for this little getdown and rightfully so. After all, it was his production. I have a relative that Josh always reminds me of. That will be of no help to you unless you also know Joe, but trust me, it is true. And what that means is that Josh does not try to impress anyone but he still manages to impress. That’s a pretty cool way to be. Josh is a really nice guy and that comes across in his comedy. But don’t confuse nice with innocent. It probably won’t take anyone long to realize there is a definite playfully-dark side to him. Seasoned with a little laid-back sarcasm. He’s got some hyphenated traits is what I’m saying. I don’t think he hosts a recurring show or anything like that. And that’s very Josh. He just shows up and lays down jokes for audiences. And this crowd loved every minute of him. On or off stage, he’s hard not to like. Josh is on the road a lot so if you get a chance to see him perform around here...carpe that diem.
Next up for Accidental was Cody Cooper. And Cody Cooper blew that shit up fam. Plain and simple. You can see him all around Cleveland and I have. More times than I can count. From open mics to the main stage at Hilarities and Funny Stop, Cody is a journeyman for sure. But this was Cody at his absolute best. Audience hanging on his every word and experiencing the jokes via his intelligently-simplistic style and playful stage antics.
He is a stepdad and his exploits are expertly described. His stories are hilarious and there were no slow moments. I am glad they recorded it and I can’t wait to hear it! Cody also has a degree in physics. That’s neither here nor there as far as this story goes but how many other comedians have that? And now his Grandma will be proud we pointed that out when she reads this. He also likes Eskimo kisses and butt stuff. Sorry, Grandma.
John Bruton brought his multi-generational head to the stage next. John spends a lot of his Mondays hosting “Make Em Laugh Mondays” at the Grog Shop. On Tuesdays you might catch him co-hosting “Step Brothers Lounge” held, not coincidentally, at Brothers Lounge. John Bruton’s style is subtle. And it flows. He also loves trying new material. He is a comedian, graphic designer and also a basketball coach of middle school kids. So new material is likely abundant for him. But he picks on himself as much as anything. The subtlety of his delivery is that it often lacks the prompting or standard punchline timing. So the audience essentially has to recognize the punchline without any obvious framing. And that is a big risk. But that’s what he executed perfectly on Wednesday. The crowd uniformly recognized the punchlines and the laughs at times began to overlap as people followed along. There’s really no better reaction than that. Risk. Reward.
Jimmy Graham is normally the “Modern Kicks Comedy” host at the Winchester on Wednesday nights. But on this Wednesday he was in his more natural element. Jimmy is the dark one. He also has views. Strong opinions. He may attack at any time. Local and national politicians may be his target. Or celebrities. Or societal taboos. Who knows. Or he may even just launch a playful smear campaign against his friend Mary Santora. Complete with election yard signs and buttons. He may onstage narrate a series of hilarious texts or emails that he has been exchanging with random weirdos...for YEARS! Either way, he does not half-ass things. And he won’t drop it until he wants to. I once saw him get charged by a drunk while onstage and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him happier. Jimmy has a style that is hard to describe.
He can make mundane things seem funny as easily as he can point out the obvious. He seldom does the latter though. This was not a night that featured newcomers or lowbrow jokes. And Jimmy’s intelligent style was in top form. He gave the crowd what he wanted to and they loved it. And you can see him any given Wednesday right there at the Winchester. Unless he is on the road. Then he’s not there because...duh.
Mary Santora was the closer. So Alec Baldwin will let her have some coffee. And probably anything else she wants. Because Mary Santora is a juggernaut. She bartends as a regular job. She travels a lot for comedy. To exotic places like Hawaii and Indianapolis. When in Cleveland and not bartending, she does an insane amount of comedy. I have seen her at open mics on the same night she did two shows at Hilarities! The passion for comedy is strong in this one. And it is paying off. Mary is a regular sit-in guest on the Alan Cox show, afternoons on WMMS. She was also named Best Female Comedian at the Cleveland Comedy Awards and by Scene Magazine. “There's Something About Mary” could be rebooted as “There's Something About Mary That Audiences Love” starring her. Because she doesn’t try to be anything she’s not. She is as likely to be the butt of her own joke as whatever the opposite of the butt of a joke is. Her love life and family life are open season and she really does make you feel like you know her even if you don’t. If you haven’t seen her yet, go catch a show and get to know her!
In all, it was a great show and the recording should be a fun listen.
There was even a sketch artist there sketching the comedians while they performed!! That was a cool touch.
Finally “sketchy” gets used in a positive way.
Congrats to all the comics and to the Winchester for hosting the event! Support local comedy!!!!
If you enjoyed the show, here are some people to thank:
Produced by: Josh Morrow, Accidental Comedy
Venue: Winchester Music Tavern, Lakewood
Sound: Henri K. Rapp
Photos: Judie Vegh of Oy Vegh Photography
Sketches: Marlon Fears
Brick and Barrel Brewery sponsored the event and recording.
They are also sponsoring Accidental Comedy Fest which takes place Labor Day Weekend at Hilarities. It is an awesome spectacle of comedy and the list of big names performing is long.
For more info hit up: