On Sunday I went with some friends to the Irvine Improv to see Bobby Lee perform. One of those friends was George Kimmel, who is the producer of Bobby Lee’s podcast, Tigerbelly, and had managed to get recruited as the opener. George has only ever done open mics before. He is an okay comedian.
The thing about being a comedian is that being funny is not enough. You also have to be good at working a crowd. There are so many funny people who are terrible comedians. I’ve been to open mic nights that George has hosted and been the test audience for some of his jokes, so I knew he wasn’t going to be terrible. At least I hoped he wouldn’t be. There is a big difference between performing at an open mic and opening for Bobby Lee in front of 500 people.
George was practicing some of his jokes on us on the way to Irvine. He was worried about some futon jokes that he hadn’t quite figured out yet. He assured us that he wasn’t going to tell the futon jokes because he was still working on them.
The host, Brenton Biddlecombe, was super funny. He introduced George as the producer of Tigerbelly. George is the producer of Tigerbelly, but he’s also a comedian. Sort of. Being introduced as a producer doesn’t exactly set the audience up to expect him to be funny.
George was super confident when he walked on stage. We were excited. He was going to be good. He started talking about futons.
Nobody else was laughing quite as much as we were, but the important thing is that there were people laughing. It was George’s first big performance and he wasn’t dying. He wasn’t killing, but he wasn’t dying.
The audience wasn’t quite on his side during his set, but they weren’t against him either. He was funny enough that people were okay with him being onstage for several minutes. And then the worst thing happened. He forgot his next bit.
And he won the audience over even more. George forgot what he was going to say on stage in front of 500 people and he managed not to freeze. Instead he just admitted that he’d forgotten his next bit and started ranting about how Bobby had told him this would happen. It was hilarious.
Brenton made fun of him for bombing. The next comedian, Craig Conant, spent the beginning of his set just making fun of how much George had bombed. George had bombed. But he had also been kind of funny.
I think the main reason George is an okay comedian is that he walked on stage confident and maintained that confidence throughout his set. He didn’t acknowledge that the majority of the audience wasn’t laughing at him, he just kept going knowing that some of the audience was laughing. After the show Brenton and Craig and Bobby were telling him how much he had bombed, but he just kept insisting that he had been great. He hadn’t been great, but he hadn’t been terrible either. George Kimmel is an okay comedian.
If you want to see George perform, he hosts open mic nights most Wednesdays at Tribal Cafe in Los Angeles.