So a guy walked into a dry bar ...
Luckily, the comedians at Dry Bar Comedy are a lot funnier than I am. And with a handful of comedians slated to perform two shows each on Friday and Saturday nights through most of November, you’re bound to find at least one that has you laughing.
Dry Bar Comedy, run by VidAngel, a media filtering service based in Provo, has gathered quite the following. Its taped shows have more than 602,000 subscribers on YouTube, another 4.6 million followers on Facebook and boasts more than 1 billion views across all platforms. Comedy is the top-performing content on VidAngel, which claims to have the world’s largest library of family-friendly content.
Dry Bar Comedy is currently filming its fifth season at its location in downtown Provo. I stopped by on a Friday night to participate in the live studio audience as three comedians took to the stage for one of two planned shows for the evening.
I’d only seen snippets of Dry Bar Comedy’s taped shows, but I brought a friend along who watches the videos every day. Generally, the night’s jokes landed better with him than with me, but we also enjoy different types of comedy.
The night featured three comedians — Helene Angley, Nick Arnette and JJ Barrows. With three comics performing, and an intermission before Barrows finished out the night, if you didn’t like a comedian, all you had to do was wait a few minutes.
The night started out with Angley, or, as she described herself, “not Jane Lynch,” although she does look like her. She’s not Princess Diana, either, a description that segued into a joke about pretending to be the late princess.
It was refreshing to see the first comic of the night be a woman, and especially an older woman. Yes, she’s older than the newest wave of famous female comics — like Amy Schumer, Ali Wong and Kate McKinnon — and it’s great to see representation of older comics who bring a fresh set of jokes on topics like motherhood, or even trying to find a pair of tights that fit. Angley said she’s 6 feet tall, and as the expressive comic goes through her set, she utilizes every inch of it.
I didn’t connect as well with Arnette, the second comic of the night. His humor was mainly aimed at the Baby Boomers in the crowd and relied heavily on nostalgia. Millennial bashing was a big part of his set. As a Millennial, I enjoy making fun of my generation as much as anyone, but the jokes have to actually be funny.
They saved Barrows, the funniest of the trio, for the end. Barrows, a 30-something newlywed and preacher’s daughter, used Southern humor to talk about family and her experiences being single. Her set was full of fresh Bible humor, entertaining facial expressions and she threw in just the right amount of “bless your heart” references. All jokes aside, she took time near the end of her set to step back and talk about everyone having independent value, no matter their relationship status.
My friend laughed hard at all three comedians, and it wasn’t just polite laughter. It was the almost-crying, cover-your-face-with-both-your-hands type.
The layout of the venue inherently came with some challenges. The stage is small, which makes it easy for comedians to not get swallowed by it. However, support beams block parts of views for a good portion of the audience. The wandering cameramen also occasionally obstructed the view.
Staff came through to remove empty chairs once the show began, and then replaced them when more guests came in, which created distractions.
Food and drinks were sold at the back. Mocktails, candy, popcorn and warm food are available for purchase. We ate some gummy bears and M&Ms during the first two comics, and then got some mozzarella sticks at intermission that were good, but cold.
Dry Bar Comedy prides itself on providing clean, safe-for-work content. Everyone has their definition of “clean,” which can include no profanity, mention of alcohol or illegal substances or no sex jokes. The comics stayed profanity-free, but there was one quip about honeymoons and yoga positions.
Overall, Dry Bar Comedy gives visitors the chance to see what a live set is like, provided an entertaining emcee who at times got more laughs than the first two comics and gives locals the chance to see a variety of comedy that’s safe to take their grandma to. And if you missed a show — there’s always Dry Bar Comedy’s platforms where you catch a show without having to ditch your pajamas.