Bene-foot or Bene-farce?
Article courtesy of Rob Carignan,
Portland, Maine (Kimble)
Living in Maine, you sometimes think that only Alaska must feel less connected to the rest of the continental US. After all, Maine only borders ONE other state with only ONE major highway that crosses ONE major bridge to us.
The Sasquatch world seems far removed from Maine. Even Eric Altman's East Coast Bigfoot Conference is a 12+ hour drive away. Thus, it was with excitement that I looked forward to Bene-foot: a Comedy Benefit for the International Cryptozoology Museum held at the Empire Lounge Nightclub, in Portland, Maine.
The Empire Lounge is in the old Maine National Bank building on Congress Street in Portland's downtown. The building's architecture is noteworthy for its pink granite walls. The second floor venue reflects the current trend in renovated Maine buildings: a gutted ceiling exposing beams and duct work.
The event was organized by Shawn Donovan, a comic from Boston, who brought three other funny men to Portland for the show. Two of them, Paul Nardizzi and Dan Sally, have had some national recognition with appearances on Conan O'Brien and Comedy Central, respectively. The third was a comic friend of Donovan's.
The show was absolutely horrible.
Sparsely attended, the comedy was not just unfunny, it was offensive. Donovan's jokes were banal and fell so flat he had to explain his punch-lines - or lack thereof. Even his attempts at self depreciating humor missed the mark. The majority of the evening’s attempt at comedy revolved around offensive jokes against blacks, gays, the mentally ill, women, sexually abusing children, Jews...you get the idea. Nauseous. Maine may not be Boston, but I think we are a bit more sophisticated with our humor. A couple of audience members walked out early and were ridiculed. The rest of us who remained were ridiculed as well for not laughing. Bigfoot joke anyone? Sorry to say, there wasn't even a shot at ex Georgia cops or a freezer. Oh! Donovan did show the John F. Kennedy Assassination footage, and then attempted to link the "Grassy Knoll shooter" to Bigfoot running away in the Patterson Film. Crickets chirped.
The evening wasn't a complete waste, thankfully. Comedian Dan Sally was very funny and engaging with good timing. One wanted to hear his jokes told through. Unfortunately, well into his routine, he became sidetracked by the heckling team of Donovan’s sister and girlfriend.
By the time headliner Nardizzi came to stage, Donovan's stints between acts left Nardizzi little atmosphere to ply his trade.
As the hour struck eleven and this comic purgatory came to an end, the lights turned to Loren Coleman to say a few words. Loren had been in the back and had left. The two hecklers, Donovan’s girlfriend and sister, loudly expressed their displeasure in his disappearance, but no one listened. My only thought was “Who could blame him. I should have left too.” By now even the crickets were silent. The mike was opened so that anyone present could tell a funny joke. We just walked out.
Loren Coleman sent me an email thanking me for attending and apologized for the evening. It was not what he, or anyone, expected. Donovan was in charge of the promotion, the venue and ticket sales. As the benefactee of Donovan's very poorly planned Bene-foot, I'm sure he can only be thankful that it wasn't well attended. The deplorable part is that his name and that of the museum was used by Donovan to foist this upon us.
I once was in a local play that was so bad, it closed opening night and was never mentioned again by the local theater gang. It was terribly written and produced. I am confident that the Cryptozoology Museum will survive, but like that play, this event should be dead, gone and forgotten.