My wife scores us a two-for-one by telling Laugh Out Loud’s ticket agent, “I hit it raw, dog.” It’s apparently some kind of promotional deal for the first edition of what might become a monthly tradition: RAW DOG, an adults-only midnight sketch show at San Antonio’s shiny new comedy club. It’s also a stroke of pure luck, because my wife just says that kind of shit to strangers, constantly, and this is the first time anybody’s been happy to hear it. “So does everybody in here,” the cashier says, indicating the roomful of people loosely lined up around the theater door. Freaking Catholics.
That’s the sort of potentially offensive joke LOL, unlike me, has the decency to warn you about many, many times before the house lights go down. When we buy our tickets, the cashier points to a printed warning — the standard explicit-content, “parental advisory” kind of thing preceding anything cool — and we get several more chances to pretend to read it. The same warning is projected on the screen above the stage once we get into the theater, and it’s even read aloud before the start of the show, in case you’re both easily offended and illiterate (probably a smart move, if you think about it). Holy shit, I think, what is so edgy it merits this much disclaiming to an audience of legal adults at an after-midnight comedy show?
The answer is “not much,” at least in my opinion, but keep in mind I opened my wedding vows with the Aristocrats joke. Virtually every sort of letter bomb gets dropped in the next 90 minutes, but nothing, even the racial and sexual slurs, are used as anything more malicious than a shock-comedy punchline. Mostly what we get are pee-pee jokes — the kind we’ve all laughed at since second grade or so — and if you’ve come to accept the fact that people have various parts they enjoy putting in, on, or around other people’s various parts, you should escape unscandalized.
Raw Dog marks the return of San Antonio sketch group Comedia a Go-Go, who’ve been neglecting the club scene for the past year-and-a-half while they worked to complete their first feature film, Blood Cousins. The return’s obviously a welcome one, judging by the number of hands that go up when unofficial MC Regan Arevalos (he gives the introduction and plays the interviewer role in several of the sketches) asks how many in the audience have seen a Comedia show before. “You’ll like them,” says a woman across from us when she spots our unraised hands. “They’re really funny.”
The first sketch, a Dating Game show for “cholos,” delivers on her promise, though it’s racial-based humor in a mold closer to Carlos Mencia than Dave Chappelle, and my pasty ass winds up feeling bad for laughing at most of the jokes. Short filmed sketches give the performers — the core group of Arevalos, Jess Castro, Larry Garza, and Joel Settles augmented by Aaron Cheatham, Paula “Tiny Dancer” Ybarra, and in a few sketches, Current advertising exec Dianah McGreehan (but I closed my eyes whenever she appeared onstage to avoid any biased laughing) — time to change clothes and offer a little bit of variety from the limits of a live stage show, which mainly lends itself to the classic talking-head sketches: game shows, talk shows, job interviews, group therapy. The show’s highlight — a pre-taped fitness-commercial parody urging would-be dieters to move to San Antonio, where they’ll look skinnier by comparison, instead — isn’t any dirtier than an average Saturday Night Live sketch, while a few of the filthier scenarios — an erectile-dysfunction support group, a gay porn audition — suffer a little from “insert Tab A into Slot B” sameness. But no sketch is hack or devoid of at least a few surprising punch lines. Watch enough uncensored comedy, and you’ll begin to think the dick joke is a non-renewable resource, but the guys in Comedia a Go-Go are repurposing the world’s oldest laugh lines to make an original, locally produced product. •
LOL Comedy Club