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Comedian kills with improv, off-kilter approach (w/video) - The Red and Black : Variety

Comedian kills with improv, off-kilter approach (w/video)

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Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 10:00 am

I'm not one of those super bubbly people who laughs at everything. I don't even really like to include "LOL" in my texts because I feel like it's so far from the truth. I chuckled, maybe. More likely, just smirked.

I've always been hesitant with live stand-up comedy as a result. I don't want to be the one person there looking like a smug jerk and not actually enjoying themselves.

Well last night I went to see Rory Scovel at the Caledonia Lounge. And, I'm proud to say, I actually did LOL.

Scovel is an L.A.-based comedian whose been making a name for himself in the past couple years, opening shows for folks like Louis C.K., Nick Swardson and Daniel Tosh, doing segments on late night shows like “Conan” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and, as he was last night, working the small club circuit.

Despite association with some of my favorite comedians out there, I just didn't really know what to expect, and so I didn't expect much. I would probably just hang out, smirk at a couple of jokes and write a half-hearted review.

But I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I legitimately laughed, out loud, several times. I guffawed, I chortled, I snickered. And I wasn't the only one.

There seemed to be a couple key components in Scovel's set that really drew me and the rest of the crowd in, the first being really well-crafted jokes and a generally well-crafted set.

The set-ups were interesting, weird often, and the punch line was often unexpected, providing that sort of shock-induced laughter during which the crowd could observe the little pun or word twist buried in the joke.

But the set never got weighed down in seeming over-rehearsed. Scovel had probably repeated some lines into a mirror a thousand times, but it never felt that way. He was always quick to add in little asides that, if they were rehearsed, seemed flawlessly spontaneous.

Throughout the set, Scovel also incorporated some wonderful moments of pure improv: mocking the abundance of thrift stores he'd seen since arriving in town, inviting a women from the front row to smoke up on the stage rather than go outside and, of course, the curious consideration of various crowd noises. Scovel is known for his improv, and there really were moments when it felt like he couldn't help saying something funny, even about the smallest things.

In a small club setting, it was really the perfect mixed of rehearsed jokes and improv, which Scovel combined seamlessly. The balance of the two fit the crowd, as did the level of raunch (Scovel's set is not for the hyper-sensitive crowd).

The slow moments of low the set were easily overlooked for the high — and overall, I never expected to laugh so hard in the Caledonia Lounge.

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