Jonanthan Swifts- warm and funnyYou've worked hard this week and are ready for a night out on the town. But, because of the all night rap-session Monday and that Hum-D paper due on Thursday, you never bothered to find out what was going on this weekend. All dressed up and no place to go? Feeling ignorant about Boston's abundant night life?
Fear not. The following is the first of an ongoing series reviewing Boston-area clubs and long-standing acts. This is not a guarantee of a good time, but will hopefully provide a sampler of what's around and what's "good."
Look for The Tech's handy-dandy, $19.99, teflon-coated cards and "night-out" filing index coming out real soon.
The Lenny Clarke Comedy Review, at Jonathan Swift's, March 1.
Analogies may be drawn between Jonathan Swift's and the Bottom Line, Manhattan's top drawer of name-acts. There are many performers you could find at either club: Jaco Pastorius, Steve Forbert and Henny Youngman (all coming to Swifts soon) among them. But in line with the differences between Boston and New York, Swift's is cleaner, slightly less cosmopolitan, and consequently friendlier than the Bottom Line.
Most noticeably, the newly-renovated J. Swift's is very permissive with respect to "space-per-unit-person," and all seats possess an unobstructed view of the stage.
Lenny Clarke and his comedy review -- a regular feature at a number of area clubs -- fit in perfectly with the atmosphere at Jonathan Swifts. As Clarke suggested, the predominantly white, urban audience could imagine that they were "friends having a few laughs and beers at one of Lenny's backyard get-togethers, except that he forgot your name." So perhaps your "friends" (read: comedians) are opinionated, brash, slightly biased and unforgiving of life's minor annoyances (read: real-pains-in-the-rear!). But if that doesn't offend you, they are also very funny.
As the M.C. for the night, Lenny discussed his prominence as a TV monster movie host ("Hey, I know you! You're Lenny Clarke, the monster movie host... You suck!"), and the advantages of woman's existence. While the ethical value of the jokes might be questioned, the crowd's appreciation was without doubt.
Lenny Clarke, though the funniest performer Saturday night, actually serves as a primer for the comedians he has gathered for any particular evening. They, too, come across as "real people," Boston-style.
On the night of this review, we heard an alcoholic, middle-aged driving demon (Bob Sidel), a suave, knit-tie yuppie (Bruce Teale), and a self-deprecating, "flat-modern woman" (Lauren Dumbrowski) sharing their fairly-funny pet-peeves of obesity ("one out of two American people is two people"), cats ("Do you know that if you feed aspirin to a cat, it will die? Well, I have this new hobby...") and "Star Search" spokes-models. Again, the comedy, though less than brilliant, was enhanced by the atmosphere. The Lenny Clarke Comedy Revue is an enjoyable experience in "joking around."
Such acts are only part of Jonathan Swifts' function. As the management at Swift's declares, "the club's primary goal, for what seems like forever, has been to bring acts that would normally be seen in concert halls to the cabaret atmosphere. The schedule speaks for itself."
Unfortunately (but understandably), the club strictly adheres to state laws regarding serving of alcohol, and will not admit anyone under 20 years of age. But their combination of polite service, friendly atmosphere and lively acts looks like a tough act itself to top and is a highly recommended stopping point.