By Molly Atchison | Print Managing Editor
Waco’s TrueLove Bar is famous for its karaoke nights and the dark, retro ambiance. On Sunday night, TrueLove hosted nine local comedians during their open-mic comedy night. With local MC Michael McBrine hosting the show and a room full of comics and their fans, TrueLove’s comedy night offered some of the most entertaining and most cringe-worthy stand-up sets Waco has ever seen.
The third comic of the night, Colton Dowling hails from California and pretty much embodies the comedy scene of that area. Sassy, effeminate and borderline offensive, Dowling set the tone right away by riding the coattails of his less impressive predecessor with a more appropriately placed Hitler joke. Segueing quickly, he entertained the crowd with a mainly sexuality-based set, involving an over-exaggeratedly hilarious story about “turning up his gay” during an awkward interaction with an Uber driver. Dowling left the audience cry-laughing and wanting more as he ran into overtime on a tangential story about his faux-birthright adventures in Israel, but his edginess set the bar high for the comedian who followed.
Caryn Carson, the only female comedian of the night, drove down from Dallas to entertain locals with her marriage woes. Following the very millennial-focused Dowling, Carson appealed more to the middle-aged audience with tales of her long-distance marriage and the expectations that go along with it. Even college students could relate to her anecdote about miserably eating shredded cheese over her kitchen sink instead of enjoying a romantic dinner with her husband, and her jokes about her out-of-state significant other being her “reliable” emergency contact cleansed the audience’s palate after so much crude, unadulterated adult humor.
Although Mike Sanchez was not on the list of original performers, he truly brought the entertainment to a new level with his elongated story about a wild young adult misadventure. It’s not an over-exaggeration to say that Sanchez embodied actor Zach Galifianakis’ man-child character in “The Hangover.” With a set revolving around substance abuse and ill-fated run in’s with the cops, he had attendees smiling, “crack-ing” up and dying to be taken on another crazy ride.
By far the standout hit of the night, Waco resident Tre’vion Rome started his set by throwing Baylor students under the bus. His Uber driver experiences had all the 21+ Baylor students in attendance nodding our heads in agreement and laughing out loud. Rome was the perfect mix of raunchy and sweet, with a nerdy demeanor served with a side of spontaneously flirtatious asides to the audience members. Perhaps the most memorable of all the comedians, Rome’s talent for interweaving his stories together made it easy to call him the rising talent of Waco, and made his act incredibly hard to follow.
The night began with a less than impressive performance from New York-turned-Dallas comedian Mike Young. Young gave off the traditionally abrasive, douche-y tone many young male comedians have, with a score of raunchy, rude and crass jokes that wavered between off-key and just annoying. His odd transitions from weight-loss to Uber ride fornication left the audience with whiplash, and his attempts to walk the line between rude and funny fell flat. While he was definitely not the most disappointing act of the night, the distinct “frat-boy” vibe he gave off was neither endearing nor entertaining.
The youngest comedian of the bunch, Aaron Seroussi was as disappointing as he was inexperienced. His nasally, high-pitched voice and his aggressively hipster appearance made him appear more apt to be performing spoken-word in a coffee shop than comedy in a grungy bar. Seroussi started where no comedian should, with the Holocaust. Exploiting his Jewish heritage, he spoke to a silent room and would not relent. When he finally realized his approach was poorly planned, he switched to a raunchy route with some commentary comparing human and dog interactions. Seroussi was run off stage by the amount of cringing in the room, and most likely won’t be appearing in Waco again anytime soon.
Perhaps the most unfortunately comic interaction of the night, Brendan Grogan clearly wasn’t prepared to step onstage. With notes about the direction of his set scribbled on his arm, Grogan’s comedy not only made the audience lose interest, but apparently made him lose direction as well. Half way through the set, Grogan’s train of thought ran off the tracks, and it never came back. He made a weak finish with some repetitive, awkward jokes about days of the week that left everyone confused and laughing only out of pity or astonishment at the lack of improvisation ability Grogan possessed.
While there were plenty of memorable acts, both good and bad, Reggie Frank was not one of them. Unfortunately, Frank followed the most entertaining comedian of the night and closed out the show. However, while the momentum of his performance should have been consistent with that of showstopper Tre’vion Rome, Frank instead lulled the audience to sleep with his soft, less-than-enthusiastic tone of voice and his muddled jokes. Although Frank was not by any means the worst comedian we saw, his lack of presence made his set thoroughly mediocre.
While the comedians on exhibition this weekend had varying levels of success, the intimate environment may help TrueLove begin to build a stand-up scene unique to the wacky Waco appetites.