Had to be there

Great Basin Open Mic Comedy

The crowd gets ribbled at Great Basin Open-Mic Comedy.

The crowd gets ribbled at Great Basin Open-Mic Comedy.

Photo By Nick Higman

Rated 4.0

The combination of good beer and funny jokes has a warm spot in my heart.

So sitting with a pitcher of Great Basin Brewing Company’s famous Ichthyosaur IPA—"It’s not yucky, it’s Icky"—and watching the likes of Christian Reyes, Jim Fleming, John Ager and other established local comics act out their routines makes for a good night.

Great Basin has been hosting an open-mic comedy night every Thursday for about 10 years, says host and comedian David “Rowie” Rowand. The comics usually start performing around 9:30 p.m. and go until about 11 p.m.

“It’s a nice place to come out and try new stuff,” Rowand says of the local comedy training ground. “Throw shit out and see if they laugh.”

That’s exactly what he did last Thursday.

Rowand, while likeable, is about as crude as he is funny. On and off stage.

“Do you know what’s the difference between a woman and a washing machine?” he asks from the stage, staring directly at me. He waits till I squeak a nervous “No.”

The punchline was a joke patently offensive toward women.

Safe to say that this isn’t a place for the kiddies.

“We’ve got the Reno News & Review here today,” Rowand tells the slightly-smaller-than-usual crowd of about 60 people. “With the laptop—surfing porn and writing a review.”


“Even if the shit’s not funny tonight, folks, just laugh,” he says.

Fleming, Reyes, Rowand, Ager and a lot of other comics at Great Basin have performed all over. They’ve done tours and had paying shows and all that jazz. Other comics, like DJ Dzarnoski, 22, are using Great Basin to get their start.

“I did it as a New Year’s resolution thing. Screw it,” says Dzarnoski. His first stand-up performance was at the Great Basin back in February. “Then I just got hooked on it.”

“It’s nice to have the other comics here,” says Dzarnoski. “Because when your jokes don’t work, the comics will still laugh.”

Dzarnoski was funny. He had a lot of masturbation jokes that shouldn’t go in print. Actually, Dzarnoski’s jokes probably weren’t any cruder than the rest of the comics'.

But to their credit, the comedians at the Great Basin do have unique material. A steady stream of new comics get up to crack jokes. After a dozen comics and almost as many beers, it’s hard to remember every comic’s name.

“My dad grew pigeons,” one comic explains to the crowd, “And I realized I’m gonna be fucked up later in life. The other day I dreamed I climbed up on a billboard and shit on a pigeon. Really.”

This joke kills.

“My mom doesn’t want me to date white girls. Sorry to this whole table,” says Christian Reyes, pointing at a table of cute 20-something-year-olds. “She says they don’t cook. Don’t clean. …”

And he tops off the punchline with a joke that’s patently offensive to women and Hispanics.

Ager comes on stage last, closing out the night with a little philosophy about violence.

“Gangs. I don’t see what’s so bad about gangs,” he says. “You don’t need to get rid of gangs. You just need to teach them to shoot better. They don’t shoot each other, they’re hitting everything else.”