Thursday, September 13, 2007

In My Country, Comedy Laughs at You!

Istanbul. Night. Taxim Square. Cool people everywhere. Oh, and Steve and I.

We didn't have a plan, and ambling around tends to lead to shopping with leads to overdraft notices from Chase Bank.

Steve and I are two of the most indecisive people in the world, only a scant more decisive than dead people. So, after a fun game of, "What do you Want to do? Well, Whatever you Want to do. I Don't Care, What do you Want to Do?" we ran into Cody.

Cody did not want to play "What do you Want to do? Well, Whatever you Want to do. I Don't Care, What do you Want to Do?" so we mentioned to him that we had seen a shady-looking neon sign during our ambling that said "Old City Comedy Club." Steve and I thought it would be awkward to go in there and watch a comedy show that was all in Turkish. Cody also thought it would be awkward to watch a comedy show all in Turkish, but in an awesome way.

So, we decided to go. The club itself was very ImprovOlympic-like, with cabaret-style seating and a full bar in the back of the house. ImprovOlympic (or i.O.) is the theater that both Steve and I perform at weekly in Chicago.

There was also a cat that roamed free in the theater, which is also very i.O.-like, as Charna, the owner, lets her dogs roam free during shows.

Five gentlemen performed for about 10 minutes each. I don't know what we thought was going to happen, but, surprise surprise, we didn't understand anything that was going on and tended to enjoy the folks that used a lot of gestures and moved around a lot.

The closing act was a dude who looked like a Turkish Andy Samburg and seemed to be a pretty popular guy. The crowd was very happy to welcome him to the stage.

And when I use the word, "welcome" I mean welcome. The main difference between the Old City Comedy Club and any comedy club in the States (besides the gratuitous use of the Turkish language, of course) is the fact that the audience is very attentive and warm and they...well...listen. No one heckled. In fact, the "jokes" were more like stories. The comic would take his time, often going two to three minutes before the joke even came. Either the audience was really happy with crappy comedy, or they were used to a style of comedy that was more anecdotal than bump-set-joke-repeat.

We ended up leaving during intermission as one can only take so much non-English stand-up.

But, kudos to those Turkish comics and their audiences for realizing that, as an art, comedy is often a dish best served slowly.

Oh, and for realizing that when someone else is on stage, that means shut-up.

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