I never thought much about comedy before Jim and I moved into our old brick house on Gregory St. in Rochester. We’d seen dozens of comedy movies together, including every Will Ferrell movie that’s ever existed and often returned to his old favorites, from Steve Martin and Bill Murray to Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner.
Then we watched “Comedians of Comedy” with Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn and Zach Galifanakis. We were fascinated by their frankness and openness and drive. They had a new vision for comedy, not in smoky sit-down comedy clubs, but alongside musicians and artists. They were themselves. They were real. But they were also thoughtful, and poignant, and above all, really really funny.
After the fifth time around, Jim mustered up the courage to go to his first open mic comedy show, at the Tango Cafe just a block away from us. I’ll be honest — it wasn’t easy to watch at first, but I knew it would get better and I saw a spark ignite in Jim when he was on stage that I’d never seen before.
If you ask me, my husband found himself through comedy. We’d been dating for years before he started stand-up, but I came to know him so much better by watching him on stage. I still love the first set he ever did on stage, about PETA’s insistence that fish be called “sea kittens” — a silly name change they thought would discourage people from catching them. “If I saw a sea kitten, I wouldn’t think it was cute and leave it alone. I’d want to pull out a shotgun and search the horizon for signs of the apocalypse” or something like that. That’s not an exact quote from Jim, but that’s the beauty of his comedy — over the course of the hundreds of shows I’ve seen him do over the years, no joke (or routine, for that matter) has ever come out the same way twice.
Jim also found his calling through comedy. He caught the bug, and I did too, because his enthusiasm was infectious. It wasn’t ever about him. It was about building something for Rochester and nurturing the scene and finding a place (and many places) for amazingly talented comics of Rochester to get on stage and make people laugh. His mission was strong, and it was pure, and I’m so proud of what he accomplished.
Jim helped build the 3 Guys Walk Into a Bar production company, which put on many, many shows. He started a late night-style show called “After Bedtime with Jimmy LeChase.” He launched new open mics. He gave back with benefit comedy shows, to help people in Africa get medical supplies, and young adults with autism find opportunities in the workplace. He started writing, a lot, which I love.
I supported his efforts as much as I could, with loud laughs, warm smiles and an occasional publicity tip or two for the shows. I loved seeing him work, and still do. I’ve caught the bug. I’ll probably never get on stage myself, but I love seeing what other people have to share. Finding a reason to laugh has gotten us through some dark times, and it’s also one of the things that makes us happiest.
Now, Jim is bringing that comedic energy to NYC, and it makes me insanely happy. He’s producing his first show here, Mouth Party, at 8 p.m. Monday, March 24, at the Brit Pack Theater in SoHo.
We’re doing this with friends who have been there from the beginning, like Mikey Heller, Colin Burgess, and Zane Golia as well as new friends like Julia Solomon, Eli Yudin and Tim Duffy. And the biggest fan of comedy in the world, our friend Natalee, is coming up from Rochester to support the show.
I can’t wait. The feeling, the magic, the beauty of live and communal laughter is incredible. It’s something that can’t be replicated and can’t be faked. It’s filled with honesty, and happiness, and it’s always a goddamned good time.
If you want to check out the show, come to 153 Lafayette St on Monday the 24th by 8 p.m.!