In our opinion, the first official show of the THIRD years of HAGS in Asbury Park, was one of the best we’d witness at CHF. The quality of the jokes and the professionals who nurtured, caressed, then spewed out at the crowd, was magnificent.
The night’s line up of comics started with the ever funny, Mike Abrusci. Abrusci is one of those comics, even in the first sighting on stage, who is very easy to like. And it’s all due to his attitude towards his way of presenting his self-deprecating mannerisms in his bits are affectionate, and you just want to say ‘awww’ during some of his lines. But not solely as trying to be ’empathetic’, for that’s not what he’s looking for. It’s all about being in the joke, yourself, as a fan – as an audience member. His crisp deliveries combined with his ‘Italian’ low hanging jokes, makes his part, a grand ol’ time. Belly laughs, were common with Abrusci.
Angélique is something else. A hurricane? No breathing, no stopping, torrential rain storm, on a night in the tropics of Thailand, somewhere. That’s what we feel like when we watch her perform. LOL. This time, she had Joe McAndrew and JC Hendricks perform a skit with her (as that is her schtick often). Unfortunately JC was pummeled. But fortunately for the bit, it achieved the success she always seeks: cringe, on top of cringe, then laughs, then uncomfortable laughs, then realization by the audience that this was how it goes. BINGO. Yep. Angélique is a storm. The good kind.
The night continued with Molly Mulshine. She’s a ‘vixen’ with a cause (?), and she knows it. The attitude of a beautiful comic is power that can be so very useful. And her bit maintained that line of thought throughout this particular night. Her jokes were stories with sharp edged manicured claws of a wild Macak. A lady who knows what’s up, then breaks down that joke stating that heck, “We all don’t know everything, right?” She’d doing the best she can, but then why not use her world for some fun. Her magnetic tone and on-stage-body-image, grips both genders, to the edge, then maybe let go of their hands over that longing cliff. Oh and to us, she reminds us of a Canadian Pro WTA Tennis player named, Eugenie Bouchard. Just sayin’. Probably not the only time someone pointed that out.
And yes. CHF has tennis enthusiasts and fans, thank you very much.
Sam Rubinoff is ‘the reaction you have when your leg is being cut off in that tent, during the Civil War’. No one’s going to rescue you from this decision to watch. There will be less of you (in drained energy) after you witness the fury of Rubinoff. He was killing it on stage, and his ‘Kramer’ like delivery and style, just takes us back to memories of those days, which is a good thing. From this night, he was on a roll, and the statement of the night was “Do you guys like me?”, with a followup and apropos cheer from the audience. He was happy. We were happy for him, and his performance. We did feel we lost couple quarts of blood though. LOL.
If Sam Rubinoff was that ‘reaction in that tent’. Alex Pavone is that ‘chainsaw that will cut both of your legs in that tent during the Civil War’. Yes. Correct. No chainsaws in the 1860’s, but what if some weird inventor (say Doc Brown from Back To The Future) went back to ‘ease the pain’ of that leg amputation? That’s Pavone. His machine gun stories and dynamic deliveries (reminiscent of Chris Kattan, SNL), the familiar but new feel of Pavone directs you to be engaged with his antics, big time. Then when you’re enjoying it to the hilt, you see no legs remaining. You turn left of the surgeon table, and there he is, Pavone with your legs – doing puppet walking antics with your now rotting appendages. Oh well, at least there’s 1800’s insurance (no. There wasn’t any insurance).
Gabby Bryan is a curious cat (as jazz enthusiasts might say). She’s bold, she’s nonchalant, she’s eclectic – she exists to slap your left cheek, then kick your scrawny ass, with that belt you were hiding from her. She knows where your belt, and secrets lie. And they lie underneath your bed, and somewhere in the nooks and cranny of your dirty little mind. And she DIGS that, to bits. The tall strawberry blond who loves one piece jumpers(?), comes at you with improvisational tact and set jokes that obliterate – you get a bit afraid, then soon she becomes your anesthetic. You don’t know what she’ll do to you, but you accept it, anyway. That’s life.
Pat Lonergan ended the comedy portion of the night. He’s not afraid of anything. But this night, one kryptonite came to fruition: a long set. However, Pat’s been doing this comic thing for a long while and it seemed he had lots on his mind. Heck, lots of us have much on our minds, don’t we? His apropos antics, and ‘nervous’ tact on the stage is becoming and affectionate – in a comic way. The ‘tether’ toy that he had with him, distracted us to bits, and wanted to know what that was. Just a curiosity, among curiosities, in a life of a comic named Pat Lonergan. That’s just a poetic summation of a summer in New Jersey – calm, funny, weird. LOL.
In the beginning of any HAGS show, there is a live band featured. This time was DAVE MOONEY and his band. Unfortunately his normal band lineup wasn’t here (missing Owen Flanagan on drums, and Chris Dubrow on bass). However, with his bandmate, Lisa LoVell and substitute drummer/college student, Garrett Goodwin, it was all good. The set put out the same distinct message about the band: Dave Mooney’s guitar prowess. The set songs weren’t the optimal situation for this night, but for working with a less than 100% in personnel, they pulled it off nicely. Dave’s eclectic mix of enthusiasm for blues is fabulous. We saw a small hint of that this night, but we think in a different setting, it would be a night and day situation. Either case, Bravo, you three.
Dave’s latest publication is ‘Snake Oil’ 4 song EP, available now.