Nato's Comedy Picks: Laurie Kilmartin & Greg Proops

When I was in high school and college, Cobb's Comedy Club was in the Cannery. They ran an ad in the Pink Pages every Sunday that had two-for-one tickets to Sunday through Thursday shows, and sometimes the Friday late show. I'd organize my friends to go see to the Tuesday night show as often as possible, because Tom Sawyer, the owner, was off on Tuesdays. The comics knew it and things would get weird, which is what I wanted to see.

This weekend is New Year's Eve, which means there are a lot of great comedy shows. But people who go out on New Year's Eve are amateurs of going out. They want to go out more than they want to see a specific thing. Comics make good money from New Year's shows but they are often not enjoyable shows to perform because people are so focused on revelry. The good shows are the dates right around the 31st itself.

[jump] This week, go see Laurie Kilmartin at Cobb's and Greg Proops at the Punch Line.

Greg Proops is a Bay Area native who returns to the Punch Line once or twice a year. This year, he'll be there Dec. 30-31, and Jan. 2. One of the biggest influences on me as a comedian, his podcast is called “The Smartest Man in the World,” and it's only slightly tongue-in-cheek. I once asked him a question about writing jokes, and he launched into a lecture about Cormac McCarthy. He performs at the top of his intelligence and will bludgeon an audience into submission. His comedy works on many levels: highbrow, intellectual, and polemical, and at once replete with one-liners and act-outs and pop-culture references. 

This year he released a new album recorded in San Francisco called In the Ball Park. Proops is a lifelong Giants fan and was ecstatic about the World Series wins. He discussed it at length onstage.

Laurie Kilmartin will be at Cobb's Comedy Club Dec. 29-31. She's from Walnut Creek, and has been a writer for Conan. Laurie was a semifinalist on Last Comic Standing and performed standup all over TV, and works hard and takes the craft seriously. Whenever she's in town visiting family, she also runs to do every open mic and showcase she can to work out new jokes. 

Her father died, and she applied that work ethic to writing about his decline, death, and the grieving process. It's what comedy does best: apply the craft of jokes to the hardest, most painful subjects in our lives. It's fantastic. She's also awesome at crowd work and handling hecklers.

You can hear these recommendations on KALW 91.7fm public radio on FSFSF, during All Things Considered on Tuesdays at 4:40 p.m.

Nato Green is a San Francisco comedian. I'll be doing Iron Comic during Sketchfest at Cobb's on Jan. 24, with Moshe Kasher, Dana Gould, Greg Behrendt, Guy Branum, Janeane Garofalo, and Brandon Wardell. @natogreen.

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