September 3, 1982 / Montrose Voice 23
Commix Annex: Serious Comedy
By Billie Duncan
"We need the laughter so much, it sears
our souls to get it." With that comment,
Steve Moore summed up the attitude (offstage, at least) of many of the comedians
who work at the art of stand-up comdey.
One of the main stages for stand-ups is
the Comix Annex, 2105 San Felipe, where
comedians and people who desperately
want to be comedians try their skills on a
small but drinking audience.
On Sunday and Monday nights the
stage is open to anybody with five minutes
of original material or for professioanl
comedians who want to try out new
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the
comedians who have proved themselves
on audition nights have the opportunity to
present expanded routines.
The best of the crop sprout up on Friday
and Saturday nights.
Most of the comedianB who work the
Annex are such performance junkies that
even the weekend pros will come in on
audition nights just to get their audience
fix for the day.
On a recent Monday night, the regular
mixture of decent humor, trite garbage,
embarassing idiocy and brilliance trouped
across the stage.
Steve McGrew (who is a regular)
informed the audience, "Mothers are like
yankees. They tell you things you already
John Reed got off to a shakey start, but
had some good material. Then he entered
the quagmire of the same old ugly women
jokes that have not changed except for
punchline variations for years and years.
Disc Jockey Tim Badore (who just
moved to San Francisco) had some surprise lines, including, "Kids will do
exactly what you tell them. Never tell a kid
to cut the crap."
Intelligent humor and a wonderful
sense ofphysicality were evident in the act
of Steve Epstein (another regular). Steve's
impression of a wrestler running for president was not only a funny visual, but a
delightful concept. He handled the
audience well, without attacking or being
Steve was working out new material for
Dave Lampe of the Comedy Workshop
Touring Company got on, tried and left
early. It was not his night.
A guy named Joe Rock basically freaked
out rin stage-
Then the nightmare of the audition
night appeared. She was introduced as
Kim and she came on stage with no idea of
what a stand-up routine was and did such
an embarassing act that she was politely
escorted from the stage by the emcee.
The next comic had a tough spot after
that mess. His name was C.J. Bertran and
it was his first time to do stand-up. He was
excellent. His sense of self was sure without appearing egotistical and his material
was insightful and well timed.
After C.J., a regular, Jack Mayberry,
took to the stage. He had come in late and
just wanted to perform. Jack's basic stage
persona is that of an arrogant B.o.b., but
his material smacks of genius.
A lot of his humor is based on cheap
shots taken at women and at gays, but
there is also a sense of truth in what he
presents no matter how irritating the jabs
may be from an emotional standpoint.
The man is very, very good.
After the bar closed, C.J. Bertran
explained what got him to take to the
stage that night. "My sister and brother-
in-law talked me into it. They told me,
'You're better than most of the people up
there. Why don't you get up there and try
So C.J. left them a note saying that he
would do it that night. They did not show
up. But he went on anyway. "I don't like
saying I'm going to do something and
then not doing it."
He explained why being in front ofthe
audience did not bother him all that much.
"I'm a lieutenantin the U.S. Army and I'm
used to being in front of troops who are a
little bit hostile."
His experience at the Annex turned out
to be a pleasant one, however. "It was like
I was suspended in space. I was oblivious
to everything except the laughter that
emanated from the darkness."
Steve Moore, who rune the Annex with
the help Bill Silva, explained what he
looks for in a fledgling stand-up. "If there
is a sense of writing, then I can teach them
to perform." He also said, "You cannot
teach the craft of writing."
About performing he said, "There is no
slack time. If you stumble, you better have
stumbled on purpose or have something
funny to say about stumbling."
His opinion of women in comedy was
that women are a novelty and there are
very few women who have the writing
ability to do good stand-up. He likened
women Btand-ups to dancing bears, saying "It's not how well they dance, but the
fact that the're able to do it at all."
Since then, Steve appeared on a local
television show and said that any woman
with 20 minutes of material could make a
living at doing comedy. The assuption is
that the material must be damn good.
Once a comedian has run the audition
gauntlet, shown writing promise and
developed enough material, he or she is
given a regular spot later in the week.
Sometimes the regulars are very deserving of the consideration. Other times, they
should be sent back to square one.
One regular show recently featured a
pretty good cross-section of what could be
expected on a regular night.
Conrad Lawrence did Mexican humor,
telling the audience that he could always
tell when there was a Mexican jockey in a
race because "the horse is real low to the
He was followed by Bob Barber who was
introduced as having recently been out in
Los Angeles at the Comedy Store. He
started out in a rude and overbearing
manner which caused the audience to
Perhaps thinking that a good defense
might be a further offense, he attacked the
audience with "If I were five foot eight
with a mohawk, I could say, 'Fuck you!'"
He turned to another member of the
audience. "Fuck you!"
Again he picked out a person sitting at a
table. "Fuck you, you dyke bitch!" None of
the people at whom he shouted had
heckled him or even been talking during
He Beemed to think that the audience
found his height to be intimidating. He
was wrong. It was not the tallness of his
frame but the smallness of his mind that
irritated the crowd.
Thankfully, he was followed by Steve
McGrew whose wacky inner eye provided
some delightful momenta. Among his
gems was, "When they got married, we
gave them towels marked 'his and
Next Alex Garza sauntered onto the
stage, wearing a pink beret, blue shirt and
grey pants and carrying a bag of props
that he used for sight gags.
His humor is full of self-depreciating
jokes based on Mexican stereotypes. His
subjects cover theft, wife-beating, pompom decorations, wetbacks and low riders.
There must be some secret society of Chi-
cano comedians that requires that they
must do at least one low rider joke per set
or face certain death.
Fred Greenlee, a Comedy Workshop
actor, entered stage right and proceeded to
have a great time. He was warm and personable with a delightful sense ofthe humorous twist. "I'm no Albert Einstein, but
I'm no Jack Heard either."
The evening was finished off with the
comic genius of Ken Polk, who is one ofthe
few people who can get away with what
might be called "stand-up improvisation."
He is a member of the Comedy Workshop
He told the audience, "Realism has
never stopped me." He then launched into
his absurdist humor and asked for subjects from the audience. Some of the subjects were aardvarks, Kafka, and the guy
who snuck into the queen's bedroom.
It was a very nice end to a basically
One of the things that keeps the shows
moving is the use of the emcee. Bill Silva
explained, "If a comic dies or gets in trouble, antagonizes the audience, the emcee
gets them back. We've made it an art
Bill was excited about a new regular
named Cheryl who had walked in about a
month previously. He said that he and
Steve Moore were both so impressed with
her that they made her a regular
"She'll start working weekends when
she gets 20, 30, minutes of material," Bill
A short time later a woman mentioned
to Bob Barber that she did comedy. He
Bhot back, "Yeah. But do you do serious
Perhaps the only problem with a basically enjoyable show put on at the Comix
Annex is that some of the comedians are
too serious to be funny.
Busy Bees Make Montrose Music:
Andy Mills has lined up an incredible
bunch of musical endeavors and events
for the coming months.
With the able assistance of Penny
Peavy, the Montrose Chorale will go into
rehearsal on September 15. Penny and
Andy are hoping that they will have a
good turnout of women for the first night.
"We've been getting lots of calls," said
The first concert that the Chorale will
perform will be at Cullen Auditorium at
Meanwhile, back with the Montrose
Symphonic Band, rehearsals are going
great guns for their September 25 concert
at the Tower.
"This will be our last concert at the
Tower," said Andy. "We've gotten too big
for the Tower stage." There are now 75
people in the band.
The concert has a lot of surprises for
fans, including outstanding and outra-