Stand-up Budapest, it’s tragicomedy time!

By Alexsa Aleksic 0becd9939c2b1e15cbbd0875efaf5c95--theatre-tattoo-tragedy-mask After visiting a stand-up comedy act with an “open mic” yesterday, the performance simply left me speechless and pushed me to do a piece about it. An event presented by BP ComedyHouse, the Comedy Open Mic was hosted by two comedians going by their stage names “Standout & Kitty” and boy do they need experience! For those who follow, Budapest is known for contributing a lot of stand-up acts to Comedy Central (an international comedy channel), due to Budapest’s tourism traffic the shows make for a very wide range of act styles and taste in humor so it’s sure to hit home at least once. I was truly excited to attend a stand-up event, even though the act had nothing to do with the Comedy Central channel and while my expectations remained low, I was still let down by the hosts and comedians’ performances. Odd considering the reputation that the city has with stand-up, right? The event was held in “Becketts Irish Pub and Restaurant” on Liszt Ferenc tér 11. When I went in, the gorgeous smell of delicious food mesmerized me for a second as I was not expecting there to be food at a stand-up event, wouldn’t want to accidentally choke on my food due to the comedians’ acts now would I? Little did I know that there would be no chance of that happening that night. The room where the stand-up took place was all the way in the back, no signs were posted on walls to guide people in that direction, my friend and I managed to find the room only because we were looking for others we know were coming as well. We entered the room in the back and it was surprising how small it was, there was the first red flag, if they don’t expect many people, how good can these acts be? Chairs lined up in the middle of the room in 7ish rows with 5 chairs in each row, tall tables at the sides near the walls and a 10cm patio for the performers half a meter away from the first row. Standout, one of the hosts, took the microphone and informed the public that the show will begin in ten minutes, the show was to start at 8pm but it was already 8.05pm and that delay definitely annoyed me and probably others too… a feeling you do not want when you’re supposed to laugh and be entertained. Finally it begins, the hosts informed us how the show is going to go down, starting off with some improv (the act of improvising with given information), going over to stand-up acts, then a short break followed by a magic show and a few musical pieces. The improv was done by four people, the two hosts and two extra comedians each host worked with one comedian and it was cringe- worthy to say the least. The first act (done by a bearded tall man and a short woman (Kitti, co-host)) started off with mimicking each other’s movements, if you ever do comedy, never do that. The performers realized that they were not getting any positive reaction from their act so they moved on the improv. The act was all about beards, how to have a perfect beard and how the man has a study in beardology, which drew a few chuckles from the audience, but nothing major. In comes the comment from Kitti about the use of babies for the improvement of his beard… well that turned south fast, the reply from the fellow was not an improvement to say the least as he followed up with “I’m vegan”. All I could do is shove my face in between my palms as I actually felt embarrassed for them after those two comments. Thankfully, they remained professional and kept going – sure it was cringe-worthy but I still admire their dedication on stage. The second act was even worse, if you can believe it. Two men, a short and skinny fellow and a taller man asked the audience for a location and relationship, someone said pharmacy for the location while someone else said sisters for their relationship, so here come the two male performers trying to make a funny improv from the information given and by god was that bad. One played the part of a young sister (he might have played a 10 year old by the sound of his voice) while the other didn’t even try to change his voice to get into character. They were too quiet at the beginning and they were not using a microphone, which made it difficult to understand and follow up on their act. Then they talked about sleeping pills, and how the little sister should take many to go to sleep, you were thinking that it couldn’t have gone worse than the first act, well this one was worse, and the next one even more so! Third act was played by two different men, the co-host Standout and a taller and chubby guy, their location was Ikea and their relationship was two homeless men, the audience sure knew how to pick the topics. They tried, they were having trouble but they tried, at one point the chubby comedian took it to a whole new level by expressing the “relationship” they had, as if the homeless men were homosexuals, something that the co-host did not like and the rejection of the flow of that improv just made the atmosphere horrible. Finally the improv is over, fine, so they are not so experienced in improvising, I am sure that a ready and revised material will be far better… or so I thought. The bearded fellow from the first improv went up first and boy did he miss the whole point of stand-up comedy, his act was about his trips to every country he ever visited. You might think, many people have great stories about countries visited, many cultural differences make for funny scenarios. While all that is very true the “comedian” held his phone in his hand and expressed that he has so many countries that he was afraid of forgetting them, 17 countries in all, and the audience could not wait for him to be over with his piece. None of the stories were anywhere close to a good laugh, chuckles were heard from the audience which I believe where mostly out of pity. Since it was an open mic event, anyone can go and tell a story and try to elevate the mood, and two men rose up to the occasion… frankly I now wish they had not done so. It is not easy to go up to the stage and be expected of the whole room to make them laugh, it causes for great stress and loss of concentration, you blabber out things that you immediately regret but have to live with it and carry on, one thing that all of the professional performers need to learn is to read the audience, know when to cut a story in half because it is just not working for them. Louis CK, a world famous comedian (with Hungarian origins) mentioned this in a monologue: “I have been a comedian for 32 years, and only the last four have been good.” Looking back at his early shows, he was not as funny as he is now, you certainly have to have a knack for comedy but experience is the icing on the cake. For those interested in attending a show or two the stand-up acts are done in multiple places, with the famous “Comedy Central Presents” being in Corvin Setany 1/b, reservations are made online and here is the link (

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