You needed an escort with a key to get to Broad Ripple High School's Black Box Theater, an almost-secret (to non-students), second-floor theater that hosted a comedy show Wednesday night. The space is roomier than one would imagine, with excellent lighting and a large stage. It made a fine setting for what was, as far as anyone knows, the first comedy show at BRHS in the hundred-plus-year history of the school.
Being a magnet, Broad Ripple attracts IPS’ best and brightest to study the arts, with pupils getting a high school education with a concentration in dance, theater, humanities and visual arts. In short, the city’s young talent comes to B-rip. The show was the brainchild of BR student Jordan Mather-Licht, a theater student and regular at the Broad Ripple Crackers and other Indy stages. Noticing fewer stage opportunities for underagers practicing comedy, Jordan decided to put on his own show. He drew some noteworthy, proven talent so devoted to comedy that they submitted jokes early for principal approval. Bravo!
First up was Janette Perez, who was bubbly even when talking about having her cat killed and growing up poor. It worked. She was definitely on and even garnered an applause break with a joke about washing dishes.
Kevin Hoover, one of the city’s most improved players, has gained so much confidence and comfort moving about the stage that it seems like he’s been doing it for years. Hoover did some great jokes about his daughter; his bit about childbirth was downright shocking in this setting. Add in talk of Wookies and he had the crowd rolling.
Good guy Mark Lenington did an amicable job with jokes about being a waiter, Facebook “stalker” apps and stealing electricity. Tyjuan Williams got the crowd laughing while recreating an airplane crash as if he was the pilot and talking about mailmen in the ghetto. Taking full command of the stage and mic, though, would help his jokes go over better.
Ryan Mast, in his signature three-piece suit, was a true pro, as always. His nine years of comedy training showed in his openers, stage presence and style. Mas, who also earned an applause break, dabbles in sophomoric humor (read: fart jokes) one minute, talks of geography the next and then maybe gay marriage and throws in a joke about similes just to keep it interesting.
Otto closed out the show with his indelible optimism and superfast oneliners. One after another, he throws them at you, like the riffs he plays on the guitar sometimes, fast and quick and driving. If they zoom past too fast, he’s there with a quick tap of the foot to ring his little bell on the floor to remind you that something funny just happened.
A prior version of this review misspelled comedian Ryan Mast's name.