As reminded recently in person and on “face-book,” the big large incredible variety of peeps in the comedy community is not only vast in eclectic personalities, wide in how creativity can blossom, but also deep in how time treats friends you can find, make, lose and find again in this crazy biz.
I often find that I focus on the long time soldiers of bringing the interesting and funny to the people who seek laughter, and this week I’d like to mention a strong personality I met early in my starting out years. A comedian when I met him, Jordan Brady is now a director. He’s been a comedy chameleon and even a game show host.
Jordan is the first person I saw do a call back on a call back—especially impressive in a crazy, too short set at the Punchline comedy club in San Francisco. He reminded me of those cartoons where the character jumps from the high dive into a tiny glass of water. How could so much laughter and thought fit into such a little bit of space?
Sure, I knew about callbacks, but had never seen one so expertly performed. Afterwards he revealed that it wasn’t an accident, but conscious planning. My version of his explanation is this: Audiences like a thread they can follow, many threads make it easier, and enough threads create a rope of thought to pull the audience along. I’ve never had the creative insight to master the callback technique so fully! I have callbacks or reminders or wrap-arounds, but never have I seen the technique done better than in his 10-minute routine. He cleverly and laughingly connected all the dots. There was even a wonderful tension trying to see how he would tie things together.
Twenty-plus years later, I found Jordan had directed the wonderful documentary “I Am Comic,” centering around the talented Ritch Snyder who was the first headliner I had the privilege of opening for when I was a baby comic in the 90’s. Ritch stopped stand-up for a while (to write for other great comics and to do a sitcom) but finally found his way back on stage by crossing paths with Jordan (who, like me, is a fan of Ritch). The movie is about Ritch’s re-emergence.
Bob Kubota is one of the comics in Jordan’s latest movie. I’ve known bob for 25 years and had the pleasure of working with him in his own Arizona neck of the woods and he’s better than ever.
Many comics don’t laugh a lot while watching a fellow professional. We’re too busy looking at the science of the writing, the logic of the material, and delivery and timing. But seeing Bob’s act after all this time reminded me of seeing Jordan back in the day, or admiring the quick wit of Ritch for the first time. Bob made it all so seamless.
If you have a chance to see “I Am Battle Comic,” do yourself a comedy kindness and buy a ticket!