As I entered the nightclub district, I wondered, “Who threw up here, and was it because they made the poor choice to stop by the Krispy Kreme on their way home?”
I was on my way to the Washington, D.C. Improv Comedy Club, one of the hidden treasures of the area, which is only accessible via a short staircase down to a substreet level restaurant at 1440 Connecticut Ave. It’s marked by gaudy gold signage, an extension of the trim on the rest of the high-rise, with its logo displayed in the cinematic, mid-century font we all know and love.
The low-lit venue has even lower ceilings, reinforcing the cramped common comedy club stereotype. However, the restaurant has broken the glass ceiling (or rather, concrete ceiling) for comedy clubs across the country, with its surprising cleanliness and lack of an overwhelming odor of alcohol. The exposed brick stage, which once hosted Georgetown University’s own Mike Birbiglia (COL ’00) as an emcee, houses the club’s backlit logo.
The lights dimmed as the emcee for the night, Ashley Mayo, got up on stage, filling the relaxed space with her vibrant energy. Following her short quips, she introduced the first comedian: Rob Stant. Stant, a bespectacled comedian with shaggy blonde hair, entered the stage and began his self-deprecating set, talking about how his type of face is always associated with bad news.
Comedian Matt Brown was introduced after a hearty round of applause for Stant. Brown, a Baltimore-based comic, jumped straight into a story of how he got his dog, a Corgi with a “fat ass,” from an Amish community. He then recounted how he was greeted with, “Hello Brother! Why are you driving that motor vehicle?” by an Amish man when he was going to pick his dog up, and how he had to break the news to the man that despite looking the part, he is not, in fact, Amish.
The final comic, a ginger southerner named Winston Hodges, began by introducing his family. Hodges admitted that his family is pro-gun, but that he had moved away from that thinking. He urged audience members to go out and buy guns because the only way to stop people from buying guns is to make them sit in line with free-thinking liberals.
As the servers began handing out checks, the audience’s attention shifted to their wallets. One table near the front caught Hodges’ attention while they fumbled with their Venmo accounts, and he shifted his own set to engage with them. Hodges’ edgy jokes and stellar crowd work yielded loud cheers and a satisfied crowd as he left the stage and Mayo reappeared to conclude the show at around 8:30 p.m.
The slow increases in laughter and rowdiness over the course of the showcase mirrored the awakening of the Connecticut Avenue strip throughout the night, as the laid-back restaurants and seemingly deserted buildings began opening for business when the show was nearing its end. Just like the show’s location, its lineup had burgeoning potential — comedy enjoyers may just have to wait a little longer for them to fully realize it.
Amber Cherry is a first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences. Funny Faces in Beautiful Places will appear online and in print every three weeks.