The sidewalk in front of the Mt. Tabor Theater was sick with comics last night, as people showed up to get their lanyards and wristbands, comics greeted old friends and bummed cigarettes from fans, and everyone tried to figure out where the hell they were supposed to go next.
As soon as I got through the crowd, I headed over to the Hollywood Theatre for the Primetime show. Things there were a little crazy too, but a lot of the kinks in ticketing and check-in should clear up by tonight.
The show began with about 1/3 of a house, and filled to half by about midway through. Comic Pete Holmes announced that "it looks like the Aegean Sea out there," with lots of little islands of people.
There were some great acts in the show's lineup, most of whom I'd never seen live. It started off a little slow for host Reid Faylor, but as the crowd got into the comics' energy, the show really started to pick up.
Ricky Carmona and his afro were a big hit, especially when he closed with a joke that seemed designed for Portland, about Memento, Pink Floyd, and weed. Go see him tonight at Best of Chicago or tomorrow at the Eagles Lodge.
Kristen Studard has a great bit that's as much performance art as it is stand-up, about proving that she's the sexiest woman in the world. She's performing again tonight in Best of Chicago and Sunday in Bridgetown All-Stars. I don't know if she'll do this bit again, but just in case, guys? Sit in the front row.
I was really pleasantly surprised by Rory Scovel, who had a great set but was also obviously just having a blast being there. In addition to making the requisite fun of Portland and Voodoo Doughnuts, he did a bit on air travel and the TSA that was actually funny. He also did the late show last night at Bossanova, and will be there again at 11pm on Saturday for Best of the South. Check him out.
Pete Holmes closed the show—and I know he's one of the bigger names at this year's festival, but up until last night I have to admit I mostly found him annoying. On stage however, he was absolutely riveting and I'm glad I got the chance to change my opinion. If you, like me, want to punch the e*trade baby in the face (he does its voice), do yourself a favor and go for a second opinion. He's got two shows tonight, two tomorrow, and one Sunday.