They Oh-So Belong Here

A midstream look at Playboy Comedy Club’s stellar 2-week run of alt comic geniuses

Marc Maron told one of the two funniest jokes we’ve ever heard at the Playboy Comedy Club, but because it involves faceless babies, we suspect it might not have been for everyone.

That, however, seems to be the point.

“I don’t know if I belong here,” Maron tells an approximately 75-person audience—of which he’s already wary—to start his Aug. 18 show at the Palms’ Playboy Comedy Club. “But we’ll get through it.”

In fact, Maron’s oft-repeated mantra is “I’m not for everyone.” He kept coming back to that, but it was self-effacing to the point of distraction. His WTF podcast (WTFPod.com) has built Maron a loyal audience that comes out to bathe in his neuroses, yet he struggles with accepting his faithful.

For a man whose act consists primarily of defending himself against judgments people aren’t actually making, he has to dance along that edge of defensiveness. The job is that much harder when people already know and like him, so Maron never lets himself get comfortable.

It’s probably a good thing, though, because someone who’s completely at ease with themselves doesn’t ever really wish the baby he thinks his ex-wife is having out of spite be born without a face.

Maron, who closed his set on Aug. 20, was the first of an incredibly strong two-week run at the Palms venue. (It’s a benefit of Playboy Comedy’s booking, which eschews generic “road dogs” for established and highly regarded comics who, nevertheless, aren’t selling out House of Blues or the Pearl).

The second, Andy Kindler, is a longtime favorite among other comedians—so much so that he gives the highly anticipated State of the Industry speech every year at Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival. He’s doing a rare Vegas appearance at Playboy from Aug. 25-27 (the Lounge at the Palms, 10 p.m., 8 and 10 p.m. Aug. 27, $47 and up, 944-3200).

The veteran of the legendary alt-comedy scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s is revered for—to a borderline masochistic, self-destructive degree—being unafraid to call out other comedians for their transgressions.

“There are always going to be terrible things. If there weren’t so many terrible things, I wouldn’t be able to have an act about it,” Kindler says. “I couldn’t do the speech every year in Montreal about how great things are. When Larry the Cable Guy is in a Pixar movie, it’s fantastic for me. I love Pixar, but shouldn’t they be ashamed of themselves?

“When a movie like Zookeeper comes out, I revel in how hilarious it is; the incompetence that someone would actually think that someone wants to see a talking-animal movie. I don’t know if a talking-animal movie has worked since Dr. Dolittle.”

Like Maron, Kindler is big on the idea that he’s not for everyone. He sees, though, reason for optimism in the way the comedy landscape is shifting to accommodate audiences who have more refined taste in who they want to see. It’s a far cry from the days when he would come and do the Riviera Comedy Club.

“I’ve always had mixed reactions there. People aren’t really there to see alternative comedy. The other part of it is that I love Las Vegas. My wife and I, we’re both crazy about poker, even though I can’t play that well. I love craps, and I love Vegas and I’ve heard great things about this room,” Kindler says. “A lot of whatever you want to call them, ‘alternative’ comedians, are turning up in these new venues. That’s the exciting thing about comedy in this last year. Places are being created that are advertising ‘we have these comics’ that you wouldn’t normally think of [instead of] Carrot Top or Larry the Cable Guy.”

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