Review: Velvet Comedy @ Naproti 15/10
Velvet Comedy returned to Naproti on Monday with a showcase of some of the comedy talent currently based in Prague. Brno Daily went along to check out what the capital had to offer. Title image: Velvet Comedy on Facebook.
Brno, Oct 20 (BD) – The night opened with American comedian Steven Schwartz, already a familiar face for those who have attended previous Velvet Comedy nights in Naproti. Steven is Brno’s very own King of Awkward, with a string of leftfield one-liners reminiscent of the late great Mitch Hedberg. Telling us about the warped day he had with his friend Honza, Steven created a bleak, bizarre but not unpleasant parallel universe, in which punchlines sometimes go over the audience’s heads, sometimes under, and sometimes to the side. It’s a different trip every time.
Next up was Libor Macháček, based in Prague for comedy purposes but actually a Politics student at Masaryk University in real life. The comics that usually play in Brno are not always native speakers, but they are usually not Czech, so it was refreshing to hear comedy about Czech life from an insider’s perspective. Engaging and likeable, Libor’s reflections on everyday life and male inadequacy went down well with the crowd.
Third on was Mitch Leffler, an American studying in Prague. Inevitably, Mitch’s set presented the view of an American abroad, touching on familiar themes such as sex, dating, and culture shock, but he avoided blunt stereotypes in favour of wry and informed observations. He also aimed a sharp focus on American life, and the differences between Prague and Brno (weighted in favour of the home crowd!). Overall, he came across as a smart and naturally funny guy, without any of the arrogance of some US male comedians. One to watch for sure.
He was followed by Martin Filippi, the second Czech comedian of the evening. Initially appearing slightly nervous on stage, Martin soon opened out into some great, fun, stupid punchlines and brought the audience to a new level. We were treated to ruminations on Czech life and baldness, and the simplicities and difficulties of both, as well as a few smart jokes about gender politics that demonstrated a refreshingly wide perspective. Martin also dropped the best one-liner of the night, which you would have to go and watch him to find out about.
Up next was Tori Burton, a Brit who has been in Prague for four years. Tori gets her material from the seedy side of life, as well as the contradictions of gender politics, and it’s all delivered with a no-holds-barred honest intensity, and great confidence and charisma. The stories she tells are taken from her own life and border on the confessional, and the overall performance is powerful, similar in tone to previous Velvet Comedy favourite Liliana Velasquez, herself rumoured to be making a return to Brno sometime soon.
After the interval was Brno’s own Liz Donehue, originally of Seattle. Self-defining as an American refugee in Europe, Liz gave a high-octane blow-by-blow account of her chaotic life in a crazy world, complete with tall (scary) tales of US life and personal perspectives on alcoholism and sobriety. Her set ranged between sex, drugs, animals, Trojan horses, and (inevitably) Czech people, and she ended on a high with a sex-rated salacious flourish. Top quality.
Headlining the show, following an earlier gig that evening round the corner in The Immigrant, was Tamas Vamos, a Hungarian-South African Jew living in Vienna (keep up!). As you might expect from that introduction, Tamas’s comedy is heavy on cross-cultural comparisons and the complexities that derive from conflicting identities, living in Western Europe as a Hungarian. He turned out to be a worthy headliner, linking political, cultural, observational and dark comedy together with subtlety, while always remaining woke and self-aware. After a great night of comedy, the audience, larger than usual for Velvet Comedy, was in high spirits, and Tamas interacted naturally with the crowd, dealing with a heckler with flair at one point.
On this showing, Prague’s comedy scene seems to be in healthy shape. As Velvet Comedy’s Kristýna Haklová puts it: “I wanted to showcase the talent we have on our main Prague stage. We’ve had our weekly show for a while and now we have added another weekly open mic and storytelling show. There are several other shows organised by various group of people and overall we are slowly reaching a point when there is a stand-up comedy show on almost every day of the week. This unique and fast growing environment lets local comedians really polish their craft.”
As more venues in Brno have started showing an interest in similar events, it seems possible that soon we will be able to say the same for our city.
Friday, October 26, 2018 at 8 PM – 10 PM
Naproti, Jana Uhra 4, 60200 Brno, Czech Republic
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