Sometimes a comedy club isn’t the best place to see comedy. In fact, if a comedian chooses to work in a format other than standing on stage holding a mic and telling jokes, the comedy club setting can be the worst place for them to be, both in terms of presentation and the audience that’s there to see them.
Take Anthony Kapfer, for example. The New York comedian does what he calls “alternative comedy,” but no matter what you call it, there are a lot of moving parts in a typical show. Kapfer primarily mixes music and comedy, playing guitar and accompanying himself with electronic drums that he plays with his legs. Using that one-man-band approach, he delivers songs like “One Chord,” about his inability to play guitar that well, or “Disappear,” detailing a new dance move where the main step is to vanish entirely. Or he might play one of the songs off of his 2014’s “kids” album Songs For Children To Cry To, perhaps “There Is No Santa Claus” or “Some Strangers Might Want You For Your Organs.”
That’s Kapfer’s preferred approach, and it’s not easy to do at a standard comedy club. That’s one of the reasons why he’s enjoying The Brewery Comedy Tour, a nationwide slate of shows created by the Herron Entertainment talent management company that is sending a dozen comedians to 900 breweries across the country. Kapfer will perform at the Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington on Saturday as part of the tour.
“It’s pretty great, because the shows are kind of similar to cool bar shows,” Kapfer says. “In New York, some of the bars have hip comedy shows, and you can get away with doing different stuff than comedy clubs are accustomed to.”
The tour also presents Kapfer as a headliner, something that doesn’t always happen when he hits the comedy clubs. And he adds that in his experience, there are often built-in audiences at breweries, people who come out regardless of what’s happening there.
“I’m not always headlining, especially when I’m on the road, because no one’s heard of any of the movies and TV shows I’ve been in,” he explains with a laugh. “So it’s cool to be a headliner without having to fill the seats myself. People are there, and I can come in and set up the room how I’d like to set it up.”
Setup is an important part of the performance for Kapfer. He says it can often dictate whether or not his show will be a success.
“The show is going to be good if you make the room welcoming,” he reasons. “These shows can be better than comedy club shows, because it’s not just about selling drinks. Obviously, these venues want to sell their beer, but I have the freedom to be able to do the show I want to do and not really worry about what the comedy clubs are looking for. We have our own sound system, and a lot of comedy clubs are not really set up for music. Most of the time they’ve got one microphone, and they’re not thinking about extra mics or the equipment you need to do music.”
Kapfer adds that the brewery shows remind him of his days as a musician playing drums for various punk bands, back before comedy entered the picture.
“I always wrote songs, so that was always something I was interested in,” he says, “but the bridge between music and standup came when I wrote the fake kids album, Song for Children to Cry To. It was all of these funny, dark kids songs, but I didn’t know what to do with them, so I started going to open mics for comedy, because I grew up watching George Carlin and Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg.”
The alternative venue route is an exciting one for comedians like Kapfer, but he says he has no particularly problem with the comedy club model.
“There are always going to be comedy clubs,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with them, but there’s no reason to not do these shows, too. Hollywood exists, but there are still independent filmmakers, too. There’s room for both of them together.”
What: The Brewery Comedy Tour
Where: Old Mill Brewpub, 711 E. Main St., Lexington
When: Saturday, June 22, 9 p.m.
With: Anthony Kapfer, Daniel Crow
More: 803-785-2337, herronentertainment.com/brewery-comedy-tour