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LOU'S VIEWS: Stand-ups mix it up at new Mass Ave open mic

August 1, 2015
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Erin Carr Adams (Photo courtesy of Kurt Messick)

It’s called 10@10 and it bills itself as an open-mic night.

But the new Thursday night staple at ComedySportz Theatre isn’t quite that.

Traditionally, an open-mic night is an evening set aside for anyone to step on stage and try their stuff for a given amount of time. When a light flashes (the contemporary equivalent of the hook), it’s time to vacate the stage. At a comedy club, performers on an open-mic night can include working comics trying out new stuff, newcomers taking their first shot on stage, and anything in between.

Lou HarryRather than the “show-up-and-put-up” structure of other open mics, however, 10@10 is curated. Improv vet Erin Carr Adams, the show’s producer, hand-picks the lineup in advance, turning this more into a showcase night. Yes, there’s traditional stand-up in the mix. But the “something else” is what makes the night different.

On the night I attended, Adams took care of warm-up duties, seamlessly segueing from welcoming the crowd into a routine about the challenges of raising a child in a non-religious household. Her pleasure at finding an audience for her show was palpable and added a pleasant gathering-of-friends layer to the evening that helped smooth over a few rough patches (including a comic who decided to talk about current affairs instead of deliver jokes and failed to make any coherent points).

ae-jason10at10july23-1col.jpg Jason Adams (Photo courtesy of Kurt Messick

Highlights of the evening included a pair of songs by local composer/actress Paige Scott, accompanying herself on keyboard. Far from the overstaying-their-welcome song parodies often heard at comedy club open-stage nights, her songs “Lazy Ass” and “Harrison Ford” were clever, character-based, and left me wanting to hear more from Scott—and to hear both songs again. (Scott’s latest work, “Holy Ficus,” will be part of the 2015 Indy Fringe festival. Count me in.)

Big laughs were earned by Jason Adams, offering a taste of his upcoming Fringe show “Jason Adams is a God Damn Mind Reader.” I’m sure this Adams (husband of host Erin) is tired of Chris Farley references being used to describe his persona, but the resemblance is unmistakable.

To his credit, though, Adams never crosses over into impersonation. He creates his own clear, funny persona as a boisterous, relentlessly self-assured mentalist. While anyone who has even a passing understanding of magical methodology could probably see how his routine worked, it didn’t matter. Had tickets to his Fringe show been available, I’m guessing he could have sold them on the spot.

While leaving specific content up to her acts, Erin Carr Adams wisely hedged her bets by booking headliners in the final slots of the evening. (She also sprinkled the middle of the show with thrift-shop-level prize giveaways, which helped keep the energy going.)

ae-davidbritton10at10-1col.jpg David Britton (Photo courtesy of Kurt Messick)

The last of the 10 (or maybe it was 11—Adams isn’t too concerned with the accuracy of her show’s title) was a more traditional stand-up comic—and a very good one—Bloomington’s David Britton, a regular at the Comedy Attic and winner of its 2014 Funniest Person in Bloomington contest. He deadpanned his way through a journey from the beginning to the end of time. Even past 11:30 on a Thursday night, I would have stayed to hear his full act.

That’s one of the benefits of a show like 10@10: It offers the opportunity to get a taste of talent that might not already be on your radar. It also is a flexible enough format that it leaves room for music, magic, improv, character comedy and wild cards.

And while I rarely mention ticket prices in this column—what’s expensive to one person might be affordable to another—here, the low $5 tab is worth noting. That’s $.50 per performer. And even with a few questionable calls, it’s pretty easy to get your money’s worth.•

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This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

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