Two men enter; one man leaves,” says bartender Randy “Bull” Kabes, quoting Dr. Dealgood from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome as he describes the Med City’s Meanest comedy competition. The competition, organized by Andrew Holt, closes out the Sunday-night comedy open mic at Charlie’s Eatery and Pub.
Holt, or “Goobs,” works at Spectrum Business Repair by day, but by night he is the comic mastermind and MC behind the Rochester Comedy Troupe. “I wanted to keep doing comedy in Rochester, and there were no rooms to do it in,” says Holt, describing the impetus for the troupe.
Holt’s been enamored with comedy since he was five. He recalls stealing one of his grandpa’s jokes about Rochester’s iconic corn water tower to get his first laugh.
Kabes gives most of the credit for the comedy presence at Charlie’s to Holt’s organizing and connections. “Sure we did some physical things, lights, sound… but all the comedy is his doing. He knows the comics, he set the format, started the roast battle, organizes the show, the works,” says Kabes.
“Sunday nights from 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. or so is comedy night. We turn off the music, close down the pool tables, and try to keep everyone’s table talk to a minimum. This is not a background kind of thing,” he says.
One local comic, Filip Swiergul, who laments the closure of Goonie’s Comedy Club, is grateful for the open mic at Charlie’s. “As a comic it is vital to get on stage as much as possible so you can continue to get better. I’m grateful for any local business that supports local comics by letting us use their space for stand up events. Having Charlie’s on Sunday’s is a good start for rebuilding the comedy scene in Rochester. One thing is for sure, Rochester residents enjoy their stand up comedy,” says Swiergul.
Holt wants to reassure potential audience members that the insults stay between comics and aren’t dished out to the fans. “In most cases, they are more afraid of you than you are of them,” says Holt.
Holt lists four rules for the Med City’s Meanest Competition:
1. Nothing is off limits except physical contact; this means some jokes are offensive and may include swearing.
2. Comics compete debate-style, trading jokes (five jokes each).
3. Comics are judged by the audience, the bartender, and, in the case of a tie, the MC. If the MC can’t decide, there is a sudden death round with a sixth joke.
4. At the end of the match, comics hug to show no hard feelings.
The final match of Med City’s Meanest will be at Charlie’s on December 18, but the Sunday night open mic will continue. There are plans for another roast competition in the spring. Kabes thinks a good dose of comedy is healthy for everyone. “Comedy is a good way to test your boundaries and expand your outlook. It is also good to just laugh for awhile.”