On the Mic: Comedians Flock to New Hampshire for Quadrennial Festival

Every four years, a group of aspiring comedians make their way to New Hampshire to try and fine tune their skills in front of live audiences.  

It has become something of a right of passage.  I'm not sure how and why it started but like clockwork it always happens.  This year's comedy lineup has been bigger and bolder than any I have experienced in my lifetime.  In fact, this year has been so jam-packed that there have often been dueling performances, not only on the same day but even at the same time at different locations throughout the state.  Sure the comedians took a couple days off for the holidays but they are now back and it seems like new tour dates are added on a near-daily basis.  Being home for the holidays in the Granite State, I knew I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see at least one of these comedians live in action.  

To be honest, I didn't really know too much about this year's comedians.  I'd type their names into Google and then add the words "comedy routine" but for some reason there just wasn't a lot of material on the web.  A couple of them were fairly young and a couple others joined the comedy circuit late in the game, but I was still surprised there wasn't more material available online.  However, one comedian's work seemed to be fairly prevalent.  Apparently this comedian was making headlines not only here in the United States but also abroad in Great Britain.  Since I've never really understood British humor myself, I figured that anyone who could win over audiences both at home and abroad must have a unique and distinguished type of comedy.  I immediately looked into tickets and found that this comedian was playing a FREE SHOW a mere 10 miles from my parent's home.  I had no choice but to head on down and see this up-and-coming comedian who called himself Donnie T.

Now, I'm not one to judge a comedian based solely on choices made by his entourage, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the venue.  I mean, holding a free 7 PM show on a Monday at a middle school that holds 700 students seems to be grossly underestimating your popularity.  People had to be turned away who waited over an hour in 30 degree weather.  I get that Donnie's team is still getting used to touring the Granite State but I'm pretty sure you can find venues that fit more than 700 people, especially in the state's second-largest city.  Fortunately, I knew that Donnie was in high demand so I got there when doors opened and I managed to get in after waiting for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Once inside and through the metal detectors, I made my way to the floor to get seats 10 rows from the front and I settled in and got ready for the show to start.  

I have to be honest:  The warm-up acts were pretty weak.  In fact, I don't think I laughed at all with the opening two acts.  However, the third comedian definitely had his moments.  I especially loved his joke about how Donnie T. supports the military!  It's funny because everybody knows that Donnie T. had five draft deferments so this comedian insisting he would be great for the military is like saying Marco Rubio would be great for the solar industry.  (Hey, that joke wasn't half bad!  Maybe I should get into comedy writing.)  Anyway, I laughed out loud at this military joke but apparently was the only one who knew Donnie T's military background because nobody else was laughing.  Oh well, their loss.  Personally I found the joke hilarious.  

After the three warm-up acts, it was still about 20 minutes until Donnie T. was scheduled to take the stage.  I knew that Donnie had previously been a businessman who liked to brag about the deals he made so the assumption was that Donnie would be a true professional and start his performance right on time.   So what does Donnie T. do?  Show up 15 minutes later of course wearing a blue suit with an American flag pin and a cheesy comb over that couldn't fool anyone.  Now THAT's funny!  His opening line was also hilarious:  He said that there were so many people that they were scheduling a SECOND show later that evening.  Like comedians can simply decide to have a second show with no warning!  There's security concerns, maintenance concerns, parking concerns, and there even were some media personnel there doing a live recording of Donnie T's show that would have to stick around.  Just thinking about Donnie doing an impromptu second show made me laugh out loud!  

Now, I gotta be honest here:  Donnie T. is not your traditional comedian.  He's somewhere between an impromptu comic and a prop comic.  I say this because the first half of his act is essentially him reading poll numbers that he has just been handed before walking on stage. Can you imagine a comedian not even preparing for the first part of his act?  Yet that is exactly what Donnie does and somehow it works!  The hilarity of the bit lies in Donnie's interpretation of the numbers.  He hypes up polls listing him as the most popular comic in certain regions and then dismisses polls that list him in second place as if they aren't to be taken seriously.  He then tools on his fellow comics yet he insists they're not bad guys as if he didn't really mean what he just said.  The hilarious part is that it's obvious Donnie really can't stand these guys especially one of his fellow comedians named Jeb.  I don't know what Jeb ever did to Donnie but whatever it was, Donnie refuses to let it go!  Having Jeb air his dirty laundry with Jeb was laugh-out-loud entertaining and you just know that the beef between these two is the comedic equivalent of the Drake-Chris Brown feud but not quite as full blown at this point in time.

After the portion of Donnie's show with his polls, he then got into some prop comedy which again centered on his beef with another individual.  This time, Donnie took issue with a local newspaper editorial that stated that another comedian named Chris C. had much more potential than Donnie.  Well, as you can tell, our friend Donnie T. doesn't simply roll over when someone mocks him!  So Donnie spent a good 15 minutes describing his relationship with the person who wrote the editorial and how and why the editorial was written.  This bit was also hilarious as Donnie attempted to portray himself as someone with importance levels that would rival those of Ron Burgundy.  Donnie pretended to have such a huge ego that the only reason the editorial was even written was that Donnie himself refused to attend a comedy show that the writer had invited him to and that Donnie could not attend due to his hectic touring schedule.  Donnie ended the bit by tossing the newspaper in question into the crowd, giving some lucky fans a souvenir!  

The last part of Donnie's performance was fifteen full minutes of laugh-out-loud hilarity.  It was the part of the show when he pretended to be a serious politician and when he offered ideas that nobody in their right mind would take seriously.  How we need a huge wall with Mexico because they're sending us their worst individuals.  The fact that no other comedians were talking about immigration until he began to talk about it in his early comedy acts this past summer.  The fact that Donnie knew of Osama Bin Laden before anyone else.  The fact that Syrian refugees are men of fighting age.  Each joke was more and more absurd than the previous one and I personally was keeled over from laughing so much.  Now, although there was a lot of cheering with these jokes there wasn't as much laughing as I had been hoping for. Maybe New Hampshire folk are simply confused at comedy shows and think they're supposed to cheer when in fact they're supposed to laugh.  It was kind of odd to be honest.  

At the very end of his set, Donnie T. told his best joke of the night.  Like any good comedian, he mentioned his opening acts and made reference to his support for the military.  Donnie then channeled his innermost politician and provided the audience with an absurd promise that if he was elected president he'd bomb ISIS oilfields, take them over, and then give the money to our veterans.  I nearly died of laughter hearing this one!  I mean it was so perfectly delivered that Donnie almost sounded like a completely deranged and out-of-touch politician.  The joke was so absurd you couldn't help but laugh at it.  Bombing oilfields that spread over multiple countries?   Murdering innocent civilians?  Privatizing Middle Eastern oilfields for kicks? Profiting off of Middle Eastern oil in at least two predominantly Arab nations after having murdered thousands of civilians without increasing anti-American animosity in the region?  The layers of complexity of that final joke were so deep and it was delivered in such a deadpan way that I couldn't help but applaud Donnie T. as he walked off the stage. 

Overall, I'd say Donnie T. definitely lived up to the hype as this year's most exciting new comedian.  Although I was disappointed in the venue, Donnie's comedic timing and delivery were spot on.  In fact, I think part of the reason that people weren't laughing as much as I was is that Donnie simply is so adept at pretending to be a fake politician that most of the audience members actually thought he was a politician.  Which, to be honest, is kind of sad.  I mean, an audience of adults should be able to differentiate between a comedian pretending to be a politician and an actual politician.  However, it's a testament to Donnie that he's so convincing in his role that people think he's actually serious about what he said.  Anyone with half a brain knows that no politician with Donnie T's absurd ideas would ever be taken seriously.  

Not even in New Hampshire.



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