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Coffee & Comedy: A Floodwater Festival Show

Written and Photographed by Betsy Butcher

You have to be pretty brave to perform standup comedy under any circumstance — but getting up in front of thirty-ish people at three o’clock in the afternoon, on a Saturday, in a coffee house takes special guts. So right off the bat, it feels like special dues are owed to the nine comedians who faced such a crowd at the Coffee and Comedy event put on for Floodwater Festival in The High Ground Cafe last Saturday.

Photo by Betsy Butcher

Photo by Betsy Butcher

The event had a strange vibe, maybe because it was still daylight, and maybe because it was what both hosts referred to as “slap-dashed.” The comics had a relatively short time for each set, and the whole event only ran for about an hour, so there was a quick cycling of performers, all of whom had very different styles. These fast-paced transitions could be jarring from the audience’s perspective, but each comic took the slightly awkward atmosphere in-stride, and established themselves and their unique personalities quickly.

It’s not that every joke was a home-run, but the diversity of the performers, both demographically and stylistically, made for some truly memorable material. Liz Greenwood, a visiting comic from Chicago, shared a story about how drunk girls in a bathroom could inspire a socialist utopia. Middle school teacher Carson Tuttle gave an all-too-relatable account of being a former “fat kid,” that had me gagging on my water. But no comic pulled a surprised twist quite like Tok Moffat, who boldly shared the comparison that hearing his African parents have sex sounded just like The Lion King.

Several of the performers had truly admirable energy and presence, falling into voices and gesticulating wildly to make their points, and effectively holding the crowd’s attention. Cameron Logsdon and Andrew Tavin were both performers who exhibited what I call “the Jim Carrey effect,” meaning that they had compelling control of their tones and bodies, and used that to enhance their performances. At one point, Logsdon told a joke about the “old soul” of his twelve year old son, and went so far as to remove his jacket in the same old-man manner the boy does to make his point. That simple immersion into the joke helped build a strong connection with the audience and break the ice.

It was more than refreshing to see such a wide range of comics represented. It’s not often one gets to hear jokes about Catholic school and Jewish school, church youth groups and teenage parenthood, substitute teaching and Amish coke rings all in just sixty minutes. The plethora of experiences presented, from comics both young and self-described as “an old man,” bettered the show enormously.

Even if the event itself was a bit of an odd concept — as comedy shows usually take place at night, in bars, with a less-than-sober audience — most of the performers took the opportunity to have fun with the slightly uncomfortable setup. There were multiple jokes about porn (I learned about a lot of different websites in that hour) followed by the observation that this was pretty risqué material for the time and place. Many chose to give half-hearted sarcastic apologies to all the people who were trying to study on the other side of the shop, too. Andrew Tavin went so far as to incorporate the called out order, “One chai!” into his set, to many laughs.

Hosts Audrey Brock and Q should be proud of this “slap-dashed” production. The diversity and playfulness of “Coffee and Comedy” seemed to highlight the spirit of Floodwater Festival as a whole: appreciating comedy anywhere, anytime, by anyone.

Gallery photos taken by Betsy Butcher