Walking into The Parlor is an experience that feels a little like walking into a high class casino in Las Vegas.
You can easily sense the money flowing freely amongst the patrons. A good look at the drink menu will convince you that this is not a place for you if you have a thin wallet.
But not everyone comes here for the drinks or the expensive food served by the gorgeous and polite waitresses. Many patrons come to witness some quality stand up comedy. Finding out that there even was a comedy venue in Bellevue was a surprise in itself. Finding not just one but four good comedians in a town big on money, but seemingly devoid of a sense of humor made me aware of the things good money could buy.
The venue itself is not too big and seats a little more than a 100 people, making the show a rather intimate one. The stage is adorned with high-definition televisions that played videos reminiscent of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” This was an omen in itself, possibly indicating that the show would be dull and clean comedy. But omens can be deceiving and in this case, false.
Justin Rupple hosts the show. He is given the job of introducing a who’s who of comedians; going from lesser known, to Comedy Central fame. For the size of the venue, Rupple gives a big performance, even though he is only on stage for about 10 minutes. Nevertheless, he is more than capable of getting a good response from the audience.
First up is Morgan Preston, a raw comic who talks about using the “orgasmic” Herbal Essences shampoo for more than just shampooing, if you catch his drift.
The rather unknown comedian makes up for his relative obscurity with a fast, relentless style that makes catching your breath (because you’re laughing) difficult. He had a good introduction and warmed up the audience for the remainder of the show.
The second man on stage was the winner of Comedy Central’s “Last Comic Standing,” Alonzo Bodden. He apparently stepped in at the last second—simply because he happened to be in town that night. Bodden’s set had an improvised feel, jumping from subject to subject. His rants went from the current swine flu pandemic and its overblown threat to humanity, to Obama’s young and difficult presidency.
Having seen his act on television before, I expected his usual highly televised routine. Instead, I discovered that he had mostly new material that hit on the current American psyche. The only downside to his set was that it was considerably shorter than the rest.
Third on stage is a man simply introduced with the initials “TK.” Sharply dressed, he seemed a little nervous and showed his discomfort by moaning every time one of his jokes failed to elicit a large response from the audience.
Although he was nervous, he eventually picked himself up from the comedic hole that he dug by ranting about rednecks in Kent, Wash., a place he seemingly had a lot of disdain for. This tirade eventually won the audience over.
Last to perform was the main man of the night. He is another Last Comic Standing comedian, Chris Porter.
Staggering on stage with a Corona in hand and a microphone in the other, he looked trashed, but held his composure well.
That is until his Corona ran dry and he yelled at all the “bitches” in the room to get him another one, saying “This is my last night in town, I’m getting wasted.”
Besides being drunk, he also seemed to have that rare, comedic talent which tells you what you already know, but cannot verbalize. At least not in a way that would make anyone laugh. His alcohol-drenched rants were fresh, dark, angry and new. Porter was an excellent and unexpected ending to an already surprising night. Having found this rare comic venue, I left The Parlor with a newfound respect for the place.
To be perfectly honest, I have always looked at The Parlor with mild avoidance, preferring to enjoy myself at dive bars, where the drinks are cheap and the company is even cheaper.
After this splendid show, The Parlor is not a good place to go if you’re down on money, but there are few places like it where you can go to raise your spirits with a good, gut laugh.