By Laura Burns
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the basement-level microfilm room next to the Museum of Bad Art, after sunset? Speculate no more. Awkward Compliment hosts an evening of humor and intrigue every Thursday night at 8 pm at the Somerville Theatre.
On a recent visit, I was treated to the comedic stylings of four stand-up comedians, including the host of several well-known Boston showcases and a drop-in from New York, followed by a full improv set by the hosting group. All for a measly $5! In the Theatre’s intimate setting, comics shared stories without the aid of microphones, giving the audience the sense that every insight was “just between us.”
So, how did we all end up in the basement, you may be asking? The cast of Awkward Compliment, a long-form improv troupe, met roughly 3 years ago through classes with Improv Asylum. Determined to establish a weekly show of their own devising, group members went door-to-door asking about venues. The small showing room in the basement of Somerville Theatre seemed like the perfect place to play.
In line with the experimental feel of the space, from week to week the format of the show varies. Along with traditional stand-up, sketch, and improv comedy acts, past performances have included puppet shows and musicians. “Entertainment in general,” says troupe member Brian DiBello, is the main criterion the group looks for when recruiting performers for their weekly showcase.
Davis Square seemed like an ideal area to host a comedy night. “It’s a hip area with a lot of foot traffic, especially during the academic year. Though there were a lot of places to go for music, the comedy scene was lacking,” says fellow Awkward Compliment-er Mark O’Connell. Three years later, this is no longer the case. Comedy nights have since popped up at The Burren and Rosebud Diner.
After each show, the group convenes at Mike’s across the street for beer and pizza. “We’re like a comedy family,” Mat Dann admits. “We’ve known each other a long time, both in and outside the group. We’re all ambitious and eager to work on new projects together.”
Come pay a compliment to Patty Barrett, Mat Dann, Brian DiBello, Ryan Mcfarland, and Mark O’Connell every Thursday at 8 pm. You won’t regret it, though you may feel uncomfortable talking about it afterwards.