Review and photographs by Jason Spiro
Host Mo Haskins conceived of “The Ghosts of Comics Past” and hosted this second annual celebration of the best jokes – a night of “covers” only. Haskins stuck to the jokes of Hannibal Buress as he emceed and introduced the stand-ups. The comedians in attendance followed the format, save the few unaware before arriving.
The crowd consisted mostly of walk-ins and friends of the comics. The stand-up personas, played by an array of local talent, were tributes to – among many others, about 20 in all – Redd Foxx, Mike Birbiglia, Chris D’Elia and two distinctly different but equally effective Mitch Hedbergs.
It’s fascinating to watch a crowd take in the material, in the same way that they might dance and cheer for a cover band. There’s something subversive about fooling the audience into enjoying what would typically be considered taboo in the comedy world. In fact, Mr. Haskins probably caught some flack from some regional stand-ups. But, it’s a fun idea, and it’s challenging to take up the mantle. Better to try it, I think…
Throughout the night the crowd, sometimes a chorus of comics and audience members, joined in on jokes, matching the rhythm of the monologue and punch lines without throwing off the performers. And the closing set – a cover of Tenacious D material – encouraged a sing-along. Most of the material, however, was suited to listening and watching the nuances of impersonation.
Normally, Monday night at the Lark Tavern is a stand-up open mic. The same comedians who participated in the Ghosts of Comics Past typically present their own material nearly every week. If you’re at all interested in seeing rapidly developing local comedy, the price is right for a couple hours of entertainment. As in, free. Do yourself a favor, so you can say, “I saw them when…”