Somewhere along the line in Stand-up Comedy, someone did a joke that required a rim shot but there was no drummer present. So instead of giving the drummer some that comedian said “try the veal,” and a staple was born. I’ve said it dozens of times. Heard it said hundreds of times by comedians on and off stage, and even civilians. A great short handed way of apologizing and/or patting yourself on the back for a bad, but funny joke.
Now, they say try the veal in Norway. The problem with that is that the Latter Comedy Club in Oslo serves veal! In all my years of saying try the veal, actually trying the veal has never been an option. Not to mention that the aforementioned veal was really good, seared, with a side salad and potatoes. Whenever I say try the veal my brain conjures up a breaded fried cafeteria patty much like what the New York City School District would whip up for us from time to time. For me the irony wasn’t only that establishments didn’t serve veal, it was also that if they did happen to have veal it would be awful and you should, in fact, not try it.
Veal isn’t the only thing they do differently at the Latter in Oslo. They also have two rooms in one venue. The rooms are right next to each other but you couldn’t hear the sound from the other room if you held a stethoscope against the wall. This made me retroactively envious of all the shows I’ve done where I can hear people in the next room singing happy birthday while I’m on stage. I guess that heavy curtain doesn’t block out as much sound as they thought it would.
The Latter also has top notch food. I’m not sure where audiences stand on this. Perhaps fried whatever is conducive to laughter but working a club all week with the options being cheese sticks or Potato skins isn’t optimum. Especially for someone like me who always eats every free meal he has coming to him. I’ll have to revisit this one day. Luckily, that day did not come in Oslo. I’m not suggesting comedy clubs become organic, gluten free, local farmed zones. How about having one or two offerings that haven’t been dipped in lard. Laughter is the best medicine don’t make our jobs that much harder by clogging arteries before we hit the stage.
Stand-up was born in the US but other countries are really doing great things with it. Most shows outside the US have intermissions. I dreaded this when I first started doing shows abroad. I thought, surely we’ll lose the audience. In actuality you get back a fresher reenergized audience. People don’t need to speak as much during the show or get up and go to the bathroom or even order drinks for that matter. The audience knows there’s a potty break coming. They can dedicate themselves to the matter at hand because no one‘s asking them to suppress their bladder for an hour. 90 minutes of rapt attention is a tall order. Especially 90 minutes of nodding, laughing, smiling. In a word, engaging. Outside the US the focus of a standup show seems to be the standup. Sometimes when I perform here it seems like the main gist is the drink minimum and finger food and oh yeah there’s someone up there speaking. But while they speak why don’t you go ahead give complicated drink orders or go smoke in the middle of my punchline.
Actions speak louder than words and the actions of US comedy clubs forces many comics to speak louder than we want. We’re bullet proof from years of being forced to pull attention from a proverbial land mine of distractions. We become more formidable but the show suffers. People don’t talk and order during plays, or at the movies. Well, they’re not supposed to at least. Why do we encourage such behavior at comedy clubs. The most low maintenance and most potent form of entertainment deserves better.
To US comedy club managers I say, “Try the veal.”