Norman Comedy

Originally in The Oklahoma Daily on November 9th, 2007.

The Opolis is usually the place for Normanites to see great indie rock, but tonight it will feature a group of local comics.

The comics — James Nghiem, Leah Kayajanian, Antony Cavazos, Nathan Anderson and Wampus — are all veterans of either Othello’s Open Mic Comedy Night or the Loony Bin Comedy Club in Oklahoma City. Given their normal venues, performing in an indie rock club will be a change of pace for the comics.

“At a comedy club, you’ll get a random grouping of people who came in off the street, all with different jobs, values, different senses of humor,” Kayajanian said. “If they don’t agree with you, or don’t like the way you look, or don’t want to hear anything beyond poop jokes, you’re going to bomb.”

“People who frequent indie clubs tend to be more open to things that are outside the norm,” Cavazos said. “They can appreciate absurdist humor as well as the more common observational humor.”

This will be the second local comedy night at the Opolis and also the second to be recorded for a CD to be released in January.

The five comics performing tonight all have different types of acts and will appeal to a wide variety of people.

“I like to think of myself as absurd, but I know I started out as sort of a shock comic,” Kayajanian said. “I get compared to Sarah Silverman a lot, which is a compliment because I like her. But I don’t want to be like her. I want to develop my own voice.”

“It’s hard to be a Mexican American comic without someone expecting a slew of racist jokes,” Cavazos said. “I don’t have any jokes about being in [a] gang because I was never in one. I don’t have jokes about low riders because, well, because lowriders are very serious things. You don’t make fun of those.”

Comic Kevin Costello was slated to perform tonight, but cancelled due to his relocation to Los Angeles. His replacement is Wampus, the owner of local grocery store Forward Foods, who opened for nationally-known comic Todd Barry at the Opolis earlier this year.

Anderson performed an impromptu set at the last comedy night, but this will be his first official set at the Opolis. Anderson was featured on Comedy Central’s Open Mic Fight earlier this year.

With stand up performances at both Othello’s and the Opolis, a comedy scene is starting to take hold in Norman, Kayajanian said.

“The talent is there and the venues are coming along,” Kayajanian said. “A lot of the Norman comics go to OKC to do open mic at the Loony Bin, and a lot of the touring professionals have noted how good we are. I am trying to be modest about this scene, but there really is something special going on here.”