Laughter keeps Midtown janky

Joe-Joe Louis, co-creator of the Moving Van Show, was one of the first comedians to perform last Saturday at the fourth installment of the new comedy series. “Thank you for keeping Midtown janky as hell,” he shouted to the delight of the roughly 25 people gathered together in an unadorned parking lot on O Street.

The show is the very jankiness Midtown needs: Secret monthly comedy shows, the location of which revealed two hours prior via Twitter. The setup: a stool, a generator-powered microphone and a U-Haul van with the word “Comedy” handwritten on the side and a curtain covering its back.

It’s this lack of pretense that makes the Moving Van Show such a fun experience. Not every joke was a home run. No one that took the time to sit down in this empty parking lot felt compelled in the slightest to fake it. When one of Louis’ jokes didn’t land, he immediately came back with, “You’re listening to a comedy show outside. What do you expect? Quality?”

Comedian Cory Barringer opened his set by thanking the crowd for choosing this for their Saturday night entertainment. “You could be doing literally anything else. You could be on the Sac Brew Bike,” he said. “I hate the Sac Brew Bike with a passion.” The crowd erupted as he continued to rail against the roving party. Indeed, if there are two polar opposite ideas for what Midtown should be, they could be boiled down simply to the Moving Van Show at one end and the Sac Brew Bike on the other.

The show lasted just over an hour with six comedians and a host between them. Nearly every comic had at least one Trump joke and all of them had plenty of self-deprecating material about sex. At one point, several guys, unrelated and uninterested in the event, tossed around a football just behind the U-Haul as comedian Jaclyn Weiand told a story about shaving her pubic hair.

The passersby were limited, but those who did unexpectedly walk by slowed down or stopped to watch for a few moments, with their facial expressions a cross between shock and drugged-out bliss.

The only time any of the comedians were interrupted by the sounds of the city was during headliner Alfonso Portela’s set. He was setting up a joke about his mom, when a string of brightly-lit bicyclists road by, ringing their bells. Portela switched gears and shouted, “Yeah! My mom!” The bicyclists continued to ring their bells until they were out of sight. It was a beautiful moment of pure Midtown insanity.

Later in his set, he told a joke about his gay friend, who he described as a “pitcher.” One of the audience members interrupted to ask what a pitcher was, and as Portela tried to explain, the guy had even more questions. Portela shot back, “Who goes to an outdoor comedy show to get enlightened?”

Later that night, co-creator Louis tweeted about this odd exchange: “It’s weird to me that the Moving Van Show was just a thing we were talking about four months ago, and just now we got our first drunk heckler.”