Apparently bodily functions, alcoholism, obesity, and racism. I know! Hilarious!
When I’m on the road I try to get a sense of the locals – their values, concerns, interests. So I was looking forward to the comedy show at the Golden Light Cantina in Amarillo to do just that. Three comedians, twelve bucks, and (I hoped) plenty of insight into the Texan mindset. Also, beer.
I got there early and parked myself at the bar, ordered a $1 Bud draft, and hoped someone would sit next to me so I could strike up a conversation. Texans weren’t cottoning to me in general, but I hoped that night would be different. I tried to look friendly, but not creepily so.
The walls were covered with graffiti, both carved and written, and my favorite was, “I will paper scissors ROCK you.” The tip jars – plastic wine carafes – were chained to the bar. There were picnic tables, Journey and The Cult on the stereo, Texas A&M kicking Oklahoma’s ass on the TV. So far, so good.
You could get a bucket of beer but the bartender let us know she only had two buckets – the kind you’d mop a floor with – so we’d better act fast. They were snapped up in ten minutes. I tried making conversation with her and she was friendly enough, but never picked up the ball. Plus, she chewed her gum with her mouth open, which started hypnotizing me so I had to disengage.
One woman ordered herself a bottle of white zinfandel and a cup of ice, and a root beer for her husband. She later in the show decided to have her own personal conversation with one of the comedians, who returned the favor from the stage by referring to her as The Old Hippie.
A woman two seats down from me was showing the bartender a YouTube video on her iPhone, so I asked if I could see it. She was nice and showed it to me. She seemed like a regular, and had brought her own coozy for her beer. (Does anyone else cringe at that word? Is it just me?)
The truth is, everyone in Texas was friendly, but not one person asked where I was from, which seemed odd since I obviously wasn’t a local: I dressed differently, had no accent, and didn’t have a cigarette planted between my lips at all times. Sweeping generalization? Texans seem to have a lack of interest in others. (Insert joke here about a certain recent president.)
So, the comedy. Like I said, it was mostly bodily functions, alcoholism, obesity, racism, and some minor homophobic jabs thrown in for fun. The three comedians were all men and all seemed to have never emotionally progressed beyond junior high. We got two hours of man-child loser humor, and Internet, I couldn’t drink enough $1 Bud drafts to make it funny.
There was lots of talk about their penises (tiny), sex lives (nonexistent), and drinking habits (problematic). The first guy, who was the lamest, made a joke with a punch line so repulsive I still can’t shake the visual. Let’s just say it involved his underwear and a snack food, and leave it at that.
The headliner’s entire routine was about him being fat. Which he was. Morbidly obese, as in, I was seriously worried that walking up the three stairs to the stage might send him into cardiac arrest.
In fact all three men made jokes about their weight, and everyone but me thought it was the funniest thing ever. You’re too fat to have sex with your wife? Stop! I’m spraying beer out my nose! I was hoping for more political humor, or at least something more topical than fart jokes and routines about having sex with women who were way too good for them. But there weren’t any.
At the end of the show the three comedians came onstage for an improv where the audience threw out “problems” for them to riff on. One charming audience member shouted, Black dicks! and the headliner asked, That’s a problem? Exactly.
Finally someone shouted, Obamacare! and I thought, Aha. Here we go. But even that fell flat. The headliner simply said, Vote Republican to solve that one, and the audience hooted and clapped. He then asked, Any Democrats in the room? I clapped, along with a couple other people, but that was it. No follow-up joke, and certainly no tar-and-feathering. I paid my tab and went home.
Earlier that evening I had run across this sign in a parking lot, which has nothing to do with Texas Comedy Night, but seems related: