Five things I learned at a fistfight with Jim Gaffigan (at which Jake Johannsen did stand-up as part of the NYCF)
Fri Nov 6 2009
1. Jim Gaffigan looks like a bull when charging from the stage to grapple with a heckler. Even while Gaffigan and the drunken asshole are wrestling up the ramp near the emergency exit, some part of you still wants to believe it's a joke. Then the asshole gets Gaffigan on the ground and gets a couple of good shots—at the Hot Pockets guy! Gaffigan talks about food and eating and he's funny and chubby and lovable and certainly doesn't deserve that. The management steps in just as sane audience members and the loudmouth's beefy pals move past their shock to get involved. According to one of the Gotham workers afterward, the guy said something to Gaffigan's wife. So one more piece of learning: Don't talk shit to Jim Gaffigan's wife.
2. A crowd doesn't really recover from a comedy club fistfight very easily. A guy who's hosting a raffle to benefit MS takes advantage of an empty stage to talk about nothing at all. It's a bit chaotic.
3. Before the melee, the crowd got Jon Dore, who is funny and has really interesting ideas and unusual joke structures. "My grandfather survived the Holocaust with his hiding skills," he says, "And by not being Jewish. And by living in Canada his entire life." Postbrawl, L.A. comic Mo Mandel takes an authoritative tone and scores several laughs off the remaining, frightened audience members. He even works in some material about the relativity of bestiality: "A guy fucking a dog, that's bestiality. A guy fucking a lion? Might be bestiality or it might be the X Games."
4. When Jake Johannsen comes out, it takes a while for people to respond to anything other than jokes involving fists, fighting, or fistfighting. But the guy is a pro; he wins them over addressing old oedipal impulses ("Don't wait too long to fight your dad. You won't feel good about yourself if all you have to do is unplug him."), married life and how 2-year-old boys are a pretty good representation of a grown man's inner monologue ("They're like little Vikings!"). By the end of the evening, the laughs are strong and rolling through the crowd like you might expect.
5. Everyone seems to agree that Johannsen is more fun than combat.