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I’ve put a couple of videos on youtube and even linked one in here of my attempts to make folks laugh at Slainte, a kickass little bar here in Portland, ME (I hate specifying, Oregon’s was named after ours). It seems like there’s very few open mic nights open to comics in this area, though I am learning about other events now and then, and Slainte’s has absolutely been the best. It was also the place I first tried stand-up.

The reason it’s been the best has a lot to do with the atmosphere in the bar and the great collection of new and old comics hanging around performing or just tossing out advice now and then. But a big part of the enjoyment has definitely been the guy that regularly hosts it, Brian Brinegar. He’s a real friendly and nice guy and a funny comic but he’s been a wonderful host every night I’ve gone out to perform.

Before I started I thought that a host’s job was just to tell a few tried and true jokes after a guy that bombed to warm the room up again and then bring the next person on. With time, I’ve picked up that Brian does a lot more as a host to help us new comics out even if the audience doesn’t realize it most of the time. For instance, he sets a nice high bar for profanity and vulgar jokes early in the evening. Whether you go up first, eighth or last you can feel pretty certain the room’s already been primed for all of Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words. He even takes care not to be too offensive, so that if offensive is your schtick, you still have plenty to work with.

This past Thursday was a particularly entertaining and enlightening evening. Halfway through the comedy, a bachelorette party flooded the bar. Immediately, the room was filled from wall to wall with raucous giggling, yelps and screams. They were clearly a little surprised and curious about this show that was going on towards the back of the room so the first couple of people to the mic didn’t have a lot of trouble getting their attention and soliciting shouted answers or laughter. It went downhill from there.

Unimpressed with fresh and untested material, they turned their full attention to booze and loud chatter- to which one comic’s response was to punctuate her act with loud yells of “SHOT SHOT SHOT SHOT!” Nothing got the bitches’ attention, though. I couldn’t hear the person with the microphone and amp standing twelve feet down the room from me and so I decided to resign and turn my attention down to my notebook and fiddle with bits.

I worked like that for a short time before I realized that Brian was back at the mic and he wasn’t projecting like usual, he was yelling. With the help of a couple speakers, his voice was rolling down the room thunderously and the party was starting to shut up. I think that when I started to focus on that, he was saying something like, “I love having a microphone and amplifier so that I can yell right over all of these young ladies that came to the one bar in Portland trying to have a comedy show where people can pour out their screwed up childhoods even though there are hundreds of other places that will serve them shots!”

I think so. I’m probably paraphrasing a little.

I hadn’t looked up yet but it definitely felt uncomfortable. I still couldn’t help myself and I started to laugh. I glanced up to see what was happening. Everyone from where I was sitting to the front door, the people that mostly weren’t regulars or comics, were silent and looked either shocked or pissed off. Everyone from where I was sitting to the mic stand towards the back, the people that mostly were comics and their friends, were dying. They were laughing or giggling or wearing the biggest shit-eating grin.

Brian wrapped up by promising the bride-to-be that he had a completely free Saturday and would be more than happy to come and return the favor at the wedding.

- Matt (RNP)