Art comes in many different forms.
And, as such, it’s almost entirely up the end user to determine whether a particular style of art is for them or not. Not everybody looks at a Jackson Pollock painting and see something remarkable – some people just see paint splattered across a piece of canvas.
So on Friday night when Anthony Krayenhagen – one half of the Pretending to Care podcasting team with Manteca comic Chris Teicheira – stepped out on stage at the Gallo Center for the Arts to perform just under 10 minutes of “clean” comedy, it would be easy to see how he was just standing there “telling jokes.”
“Make me laugh funny man.”
But in reality, the Ceres product that headlined his own benefit shot at that very stage just over a year ago was doing something on Friday night that he doesn’t do very often at all – he was working clean.
As part of the first ever Modesto View Clean Comedy Competition, Krayenhagen – who has no problem spattering his set with “blue” jokes that are both hilarious and cringe-worthy – was limited in what he could say while on stage before the packed house that came to hear both the hilarious and the straight-laced.
Say what you will about stifling comics – or any artist for that matter – but Krayenhagen showed on Friday why he is a true artist as well as a budding professional when he reworked some of his racier material into a relatively family-friendly set that led to applause breaks and riotous laughter from the crowd that seemed genuinely starved for a good laugh.
He had them from the start, and over the course of 10 minutes, led them through a series of stories – minus the expletives or adult details usually present in his barroom retellings – that showed everybody who came out why he’s a rising comedy star that despite his recent successes, has never turned his back on his hometown.
Ultimately Krayenhagen won the contest and the $500 grand prize but will have to forego the entry into the Valley’s Got Talent competition in August because of a prior commitment to headline for a weekend at Laugh’s Unlimited in Sacramento.
His featured act that weekend – who came in second place and also had to forgo representing Modesto’s comedy scene in the all-encompassing show – also showed his artistic chops and his professional nature in being able to rework certain jokes to work with an audience and a panel of judges that would have likely pulled the plug had the material gotten too racy.
Nobody has ever accused Chris Teicheira of being family friendly. While he didn’t do much to chop up his jokes too much to fit the format, just a word change here and a nuance there not only had the crowd in stitches, but gave those who have heard the “unedited” versions of the jokes an inside laugh because they knew exactly what he wanted to say in that moment.
The reigning Modesto Area Music Award Winner for Best Comic, Teicheira was long known as the Susan Lucci of the competition because he was perennially nominated but never walked away with any hardware. But nobody could ever say that Lucci wasn’t a gamer – that when it came to her craft, despite not having the trophies on the mantle that she wasn’t a pioneer of her craft and somebody that the younger daytime drama actresses couldn’t turn to when they needed advice.
And that’s exactly the position that Teicheira has put himself in in what has become an unbelievably strong Central Valley comedy scene that is ripe with funny, sharp, innovative and witty performers that are willing to do whatever it takes to ply the trade that they all love so dearly.
It’s one thing to say that somebody is funny.
But to be funny without the bombast of the “f” word or a well-timed dirty story takes a whole different level of ability. It’s not the same as telling a party joke or being somebody with a little bit of humor able to deliver a well-timed barb.
Both Teicheira and Krayenhagen actually had the audience in their hands, working a room of over 400 people who were clinging on to their every word.
They weren’t alone.
Turlock comic A.J. DeMello used his deadpan delivery and self-deprecation to leave the audience in stitches, and even threw in an edgy religious joke that may have seemed out of place on the surface, but actually broke the tension amongst the comics and allowed them to toe an even blurrier line when it came to delivering their material.
Comedy newcomer Jenny Cahoon of Oakdale was funny herself with her familial insights, and Fred Sub – who goes by the preforming name “Hindude” – laid waste to his own ethnic grouping and got more than a fair of share of laughs from the evening.
Personally, I could never do it. I could never stand in front of that many people and expect to recite a prepared series of jokes with timing and inflection at the core without massively screwing up and eventually walking off stage.
But these five folks did it, and they did without the comfort of profanity and it really was like watching a high-wire act as people tiptoed across a line and tried their best not to fall off.
To see it play out is truly like watching an artist at work.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.