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BRIAN MCKIM has performed standup comedy in all 50 states. He earned a B.A. in Magazine Journalism from Temple University. Any resemblance to a living person is purely coincidental.


Brian McKim
Editor In Chief

"Delightful Alternative"

I recently had the chance to work in the New England area. I have always enjoyed working in the tiny states that serve as our number one defense against the invading hordes of bloodthirsty Newfoundlanders and kill-happy New Brunswickians. The comedy scene in Boston and surrounding area was second to few back in the '80s. Of course, it shrank like a barbecued slug when the Great Comedy Bust of the '90s flattened out all but the hardiest comedy venues. But it has rallied. And one of the signs of that rally is the continued success and flattering recognition garnered by a humble venue just off Harvard Square known as the Comedy Studio.

Rick Jenkins is the man who saw the comedy potential in a small room on the third floor of a Chinese restaurant in Cambridge. He started the Comedy Studio and brought the Boston comedy scene full circle.

One of the prime comedy incubators in Boston at the turn of the Big Hair Decade (that would be the '80s for those of you without VH-1) was a function room attached to a Chinese restaurant named the Ding Ho. The Ding Ho gave way (in 1985 or so) to the big clubs and is remembered fondly by the Boston guys who got there start there.The Ding Ho Reunion was lovingly detailed in our November issue by Boston SHECKY! correspondent John Curtin. That little get-together managed to gather Steven Wright, Jimmy Tingle, Lenny Clarke and a dozen more comedy heavyweights in one room.

Jenkins' room is still gathering steam. And the list of future comedy heavyweights being nurtured there is growing. I was invited to perform and hang on a recent Sunday night. It was great to see DJ (he of the ursine build; featured in our June Question 21) and it was also a pleasure to finally meet a coupla folks I had only know only via email: John Curtin and the Rev. Tim McIntire.

A small crowd gathered on this particular night. In a venue like this one, however, crowd size is not a deterrent to a good time. A parade of diverse acts mounted the stage, no two alike.

This room is rumored to be an "alternative" venue. If this is what is meant by an alternative venue, I say give me more! I got the same feeling watching this show as I did watching the Alternative Showcase in Montreal: Party two acts alike...everybody determined, above all, to have a good time...some material works, some doesn't (no big deal)...In short, it felt like any open mike in 1985.

If I seem surprised, it's only because I have been led to believe that alternative land is populated by dour folks who take their craft ultra-seriously and who are intolerant of others. Sort of like if Morrisey got up five minutes of material.

Maybe it comes from the top: Rick Jenkins is the easiest guy in the whole world to like. He emcees the whole affair on Sundays and his upstate NY accent and his relaxed (almost rambling) approach sets a tone that is just right.

I went up rather late in the proceedings and I went horribly over my time. But, no one was peeved, the crowd was still somewhat fresh and I got a laugh on one of the stupidest, goofiest jokes I have written in some time. Which kinda threw me off...And I guess that's what nights like this are supposed to do: throw you off so you don't get in a rut. After several intense months of yukking it up for cash, I can use a little throwing off. I'd like to do another set there on another Sunday night if they'll have me. HOME Back to the Top