Don McMillan at the Improv

Peter surprised me with tickets to see a new (well, new to me) comedian, Don McMillan, at San Jose’s spiffy Improv comedy club. You can always see the comedian well from any seat in the club, and it seems curiously heckle-proof. You can always hear what the person on stage is saying clearly, but anything from out of the audience sounds like “bwa bwa bwa.” There’s supposed to be a 2-drink/food minimum, but the wait staff always seems to be allergic to me and Peter. In one way it’s good: I get excused from having to buy drinks, but on the night we went, Peter hadn’t had any dinner, so he’d have been perfectly happy to pay out for a burger and fries. So it was somewhat disconcerting to see the servers repeatedly visiting the tables on either side of us, and ignore Peter’s waves for attention; and then only appear once at last call, when it was too late to order a meal.

The host, and opening comedian, was surprisingly good. He told jokes about Oakland, where he lives and where I once lived, as well as my-strange-but-lovable family jokes, both of which went over well. The middle comedian wasn’t memorably awful, but he wasn’t funny either. After seeing Click and this guy, I realize there are some people in the world who apparently think masturbating dogs are hilarious, and you can never tell too many masturbating dog jokes, even if the audience doesn’t laugh. He also seemed to miss the point that jokes about being stoned are only funny to the equally stoned: but since the Improv wasn’t considerate enough to waft a huge cloud of marijuana smoke over the audience, we were just bored. In desperation, I think he tried a few “don’t I look like a penis” and “look at me move like a spass” jokes, in complete ignorance that the audience was engineers, not frat boys. Oh, well, it could have been worse.

Don McMillan is a former engineer who tells jokes using PowerPoint. Alas, since I have been out of the world of corporate drones and I am not a math geek, some of the jokes went over my head. But when I had to watch as many as 3 unneccessary marketing-babble PowerPoint presentations a day, I would have been rolling on the floor about his How Not to Use PowerPoint presentation, as well as his corporate math. Even though I was removed from the Dilbert world he was mocking, he was consistently funny. And he promised some of his jokes were “Time Release Comedy:” we might not laugh now, but suddenly find ourselves chuckling about a joke hours late. And what do you know? Some jokes which had only gotten a smile on their live rendition did come back and have me laughing later that night. Heh, Data compression.

As a bonus, after his act, McMillan recognized a member of the audience who’d been part of a local improv group that had given him his comedy start. Then he introduced 5 fellow comedians (from that era, not currently working in comedy) and together, they performed a few improv routines. One was particularly funny because it’s the first time I’ve seen any comedian willing to impersonate and jest about Barack Obama. Honestly, the “George Bush is SO dumb…” jokes are getting old after 9 straight years of them. “John McCain is SO old…” and “Barack Obama speaks eloquently and says…nothing at all” is a lot fresher, at least for right now.

It turned out while we were gone, our PVR crashed and we missed the finale of Last Comic Standing. But I think the live comedy was better entertainment anyway.

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