Montreal Comedy Festival: MC Mr. Napkins at Amp'd Music Comedy Show
How can I give anything but love to my boy Napkins? Lord knows I've written about him enough times, for The Phoenix, and for Stuff, (plus, I skeeved a ride here with him, so...it's not in my best interest to hate, unless I want to rely on lonely transnational truckers to give me a series of lifts towards home.)
I'm not stalking him, I swear. I just think he's really talented, really fresh. Plus, I love clever wordsmithery, and Napkins -- who, if you don't know, is the hip-hop alter ego of comedian Zach Sherwin -- has a way with anagrams that leaves me shaking my head, awestruck.
Taking the stage after a faux Irish boy band performing "Famine: The Musical" is tricky to do. I mean, for the .0001% of comedians who've probably had to do it. Getting an audience to shift gears so sharply, so quickly, isn't easy. I think it worked out just fine. Were the Von Dutch hipster kids in the front row ready for a Jew with a mic and a tight rhyme about a blood pressure device? Probably not. But they dug it (and the lyrical diatribe about Italian dictators), and so did the industry mucks who were skulking around the venue, sniffing out fresh blood.
To nerd out for a second - one of the things I love about covering local comedy is watching Boston's comics grow as writers and performers. I've seen dozens of comedians repeat the same jokes over the course of months, even years. And, to me, a truly great comedian will grow around their material, as well as becoming better at developing jokes. In other words, sometimes, a joke isn't improved by tweaking the punchline, but, rather, the manner of delivery; speed, pitch, mannerisms, energy level. So, a joke becomes better as a comedian becomes a better performer.
One of the reasons why I think Napkins is having such succesful shows this week is that he's figured out a way to be a white rapper that isn't a cheesy white rapper. And he's upped his energy level without becoming a caricature, which I think will really help to push him into the limelight. Last night, he was moving onstage more than I've seen him do before. Dancing. Gesturing. I think a little of it was nerves, but it worked. I know he's comfortable with his words, and, now, I think he's becoming more comfortable with his body, and with his stage presence.