Comedy Central standup comes to Brickhouse
It’s a boom time for standup comedy, and many Seacoast venues are getting in on the action. A couple of years ago, the Dover Brickhouse began a monthly event. Initially run as an open mic night by local hip-hop artist Eyenine, it got more structured when Boston comic Justin P. Drew took over.
Drew spent a long weekend making the case for a “real show,” he said in a recent phone interview. “The dirty secret is that most comics hate Friday night open mic nights.” A long string of aspirants working out their first five minutes of standup is better suited for the middle of the week, not weekends.
Soon, it became a showcase that had a name – It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Dover – and was regularly packed with comedy fans. A typical night has a headliner with four or more comics on the undercard. Admission is free, though there are exceptions, like a June 2 event starring Mike Recine, which costs $10.
The ticketed show is “an experiment,” Drew said, reflecting Recine’s stature. His resume includes a Comedy Central half hour special and appearances on Conan. He’s written for the MTV Video Music Awards, has a popular podcasts, and he’s performed at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, along with most of the rooms in his New York City home base. “One of the only guys Brooklyn hipsters and Jersey slobs can agree on,” one writer opined.
As with most of the monthly events, Drew will host. The main motivator for getting involved at the Brickhouse was stage time. As a booker, he makes friends who give him gigs, creating a happy circle of work. He also likes the room’s intimacy. “You can fit a lot of people in there but it still feels personal,” he said. “I’m a VHI Storytellers kind of guy.”
The reason Drew does standup is a bit complex. Basically, it satisfies his need to navigate a strange tightrope between craving attention and chronic insecurity. “A comedian is narcissistic at heart,” he said. “They look at a room full of people and think, ‘nobody should be talking but me.’ Anyone who does this is secretly a monster.”
Getting up in front of a crowd is weirdly effective way to deal with social anxiety, he continued. “If I’m going up, I know these people are going to see that I have a secret superpower. If I’m around them and they won’t see me on stage, then I feel terrified; because they don’t know I have an ability. If you look at me, you just think, he’s a fat POS.”
Drew’s comedy heroes share this tic. “My patron saint has to be Patton Oswalt … Werewolves and Lollipops was like my White Album back in the day,” he said. Recently disgraced comic Aziz Ansari helped convince him to pursue the craft. “I remember hearing Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening and thinking, ‘I could do this’ … it’s like a blueprint.”
Think of a young rocker hearing Bon Jovi for the first time and taking up guitar. “It was shortly after that album that I went on stage,” Drew said. “Of course, I bombed the first two or three times.”
Coming this summer are free shows from Reece Cotton in July, and J Smitty in August. Kevin Hart interviewed both comics last December for his Comedy Central show Hart of the City, but the two aren’t household names yet, so the event will revert to no cover charge.
If the Recine event does well, Drew hopes to do similar shows down the road. “This is the first time we’re bringing in a real headliner,” Drew said. “If this is successful, it will open the gate into bringing even more big name people into this space.”
- Comedian Mike Recine
- When: Saturday, June 2, 9 p.m. (doors at 8)
- Where: Dover Brickhouse, 2 Orchard St., Dover
- Tickets: $10 at ticketf.ly/2KM5cmU