Jonnie Stapleton Is Not Afraid

Lisa Waugh

It’s no easy thing for me to go and see my friend’s stuff. By stuff I mean, their band, their improv show, their stand-up, their live quilting competition (I don’t know if that’s a thing but it should be). I’ve had a fairly mixed experience. What do you say when your friend is about as talented as a concrete block dipped in rocks?

I usually go with, “It was easy to park. Found a spot really quickly.”

Jonnie Stapleton – Fearless, in legwarmers

See, I don’t mind being in the audience. I’m not so jaded that I don’t enjoy being entertained. Not everyone can be on the stage (you know who you are, most of Los Angeles). Some of us actually like being an audience member. I like to watch. But to schlep from Santa Monica to anywhere has to be worth it. Traffic, parking, and the fact that I can watch anything I want on Apple TV.

My friend Jonnie Stapleton asked me to see his stand-up show a few times and due to scheduling and my laziness, I put it off for a while. He went up at the Pot Luck show at The Comedy Store on the Strip a few Sundays ago.

Most of my friends know what a snobby East Coast shit head I am. The food is better over there, the comedy is better and people read more. But it’s cold as hell there, it’s gray and you’re stacked on top of each other in the city.

Over here, it’s sunny, I like to be outside a lot, and there’s a good chance Jerry’s Deli will be open during the zombie apocalypse. Cause I’m a big blobby middle aged douche who likes it easy.

All that said, I was kind of expecting Jonnie to be kind of meh, even though he’s from God’s country, South Dakota. I imagine buffalo roaming around with Ted Nugent on their backs shitting in front of cowboy boot outlets, the buffalo as well.

He’s funny when we’re on set and when we’re hanging out but that doesn’t automatically translate to funny on stage. It doesn’t.

This is the kind of picture they would put up in a comedy club… in the 70s

Potluck is an open mic night at The Comedy Store. With open mics, you can expect a couple of scenarios. Either the comics are stacked by degrees of experience building to a crescendo to the last person up or you get a show where it’s spotty with random talent. Your audience can be cold, too drunk, too sober, stupid or just off.

What happened on this night was kind of weird and fits into a third category. The audience was warm, ready to laugh, and drinking. The Rasta Bus dropped off like 15 people so they were drunk and higher than bees. As rooms go for an open mic, it was pretty much ideal.

What blows my mind is that the host got up and completely shat on the stage between each comic. Like verbally shat terrible, racist, dumb, rambling jokes on stage like a bipolar, incontinent, 5 foot lizard. So each person had to get back up and start from scratch to build laughs. I don’t have to tell you that this is the complete opposite of what the host is supposed to do.

She had to suspect something was amiss because when the other people were on stage, there was laughter. When she was up, there was sub silence. Like if a black hole could make an unsound, it would be this crazy bitch. Those cold dead stares from people who were laughing seconds ago should be a clue that your hate set from the 60th birthday of the Grand Wizard isn’t working.

So it’s even more of a feat to still be funny after your host completely sucks the air out of the room. I don’t have a list of the people who went up (it’s random from the night and the same host was running the show like a sober carnie) but Jonnie did get a gift from the guy in front of him who killed.

The great break for Jonnie was that Shitzilla finally did her job and only introduced him off the wave of that set, thereby making his set even more awesome.

Anyway, unless Jonnie starts doing heroin or dates a Lohan, he’s going to do quite well for himself. He’s comfortable, engaging and has his timing down. He truly cares about the connection with the audience and that’s going to carry him far. His material suits him well and like any good comedian, is ever evolving.

And… his khakis were nice.