No, the title of this post is not about my dating. The Big Hunt is this great divey bar on Connecticut Ave. They have three floors, an outdoor patio where you can smoke, and an underground comedy club in the basement. Long after I have forgotten all my dates in the DC, I will always remember this evening, and most of all, I will always remember Phil. We might never meet again, but we’ll always have The Big Hunt.
Anyway. The underground comedy club looked exactly as you would expect an underground comedy club in the basement of a divey bar to look. There was a bar, of course, a few rows of cheap folding chairs, a microphone with terrible, slightly too loud sound and a brick wall in the background. The comedians themselves were of mixed quality: some great, some not so good, and several hilarious moments. And then there was Phil.
Phil arrived early and sat at the front row long before all the other seats were taken. Who does that in a stand up comedy show? The answer: Phil. Phil does that. But he looked so cute and innocent that I just thought it was because of some sort of naive ignorance. He was there with his old childhood friend, who will forever be known in my memory as Poor Jim. Poor Jim looked like a 45 year old ex-marine. Phil looked like a pre-school teacher. He had thick, boyish hair, sneakers and shorts of the extremely nerdy kind.
Well, you know how it is at stand up shows. Some poor sucker has to sit in the front, or someone makes the mistakes of making eye contact with the comedian, and then they have to answer questions and good heartedly endure being made fun of. The kind of jokes that are inevitably followed by the comedian saying things like “No, I’m just messing with you, you’re a great sport” while the rest of the audience feel intensively grateful that it wasn’t them. Let’s take another, harmless example from the evening. Jen made the mistake of applying lip gloss and thereby drawing the comedians attention to her, so in due course we knew that she worked as a realtor and practiced yoga. And that was pretty much it. A completely normal interaction. Allright. Back to Phil.
The comedian is right in the middle of a divorce joke, and turns to Phil and Poor Jim and asks off-handedly: “So are you guys single, dating, whatever?” He clearly expects to launch right on towards his joke. But no.
Phil (loud and happy): “We’re exploring!”
Poor Jims stone face got if possibly more stone facey.
“You’re together?” the comedian asks disbelievingly. Poor Jim does not look like a man who “explores” things with other men. Phil looks like he’s still living with his mother.
“No, no”, says Phil, still amazingly happy. “We’re straight.”
The comedian eventually gets back to his joke, but as you can imagine he cannot let this go. “Exploring? Exploring?! What the fuck does that even mean?”
At this point I’m still feeling bad about Phil. I thought he just accidently said some weird thing in the heat of the moment. But I underestimated Phil.
“So I’m dating this girl”, he tells alls of us in his loud, happy voice. Me, the comedian and the rest of the audience are of course wondering why the hell Phil is telling us this.
Phil: “And she used to be a sex worker.”
The comedian looks like he lost control over this joke.
Phil: “So she’s teaching me things.”
Comedian: “You’re dating a sex worker?! And she’s teaching you things?!”
Phil: “Yeah. So I’m exploring!”
The comedian made brave attempts the rest of the evening, but no matter what he did he could never really reach Phil’s levels. Next time he turned in stead to a 25 year old who worked in fund raising. Safe, comfortable jokes in DC.
PS. By a happy coincidence I took a photo of the stage and the brick wall, so Phil’s shorts is immportalized in a photo. Notice all the empty chairs? That’s where all the smart people don’t sit.