There are certain things that Jacksonville Beach takes very seriously — flag memorabilia on the Forth of July, waves and happy hour, to list a few. Lately, however, comedy has taken a place in the list of must-do’s at the beach.
Given the fact that there hasn’t been many local stand-up shows proliferating around doesn’t mean that it wasn’t welcome. Comedy at the beach was best described as an, “if you build it, they will come” type of scenario. With that in mind, Patrick Dalton, host of Comedy Uncorked at the Wine Bar, answered.
Dalton gives us the low-down on Jacksonville’s comedy scene, political correctness and the art of making you laugh.
What is it like to be a comedian in Jacksonville? How has the city influenced your style or perception of yourself as a comedian?
Jacksonville’s comedy scene is growing at a rapid rate. The comics we have already embedded in the scene are incredibly intelligent, talented and determined. It’s a great feeling to know you’re getting in at the ground floor, so to speak. There are comedians who have been doing comedy in Jacksonville for years who have created a good foundation for us newcomers and established a few good mics and we’ve got a bit of a buzz to work with. The comics from Jax are incredibly diverse in nature, which helps me feel freer to try different things. Seeing all the different ways comedy can be done has given me a good idea of what works, what doesn’t work, and why. It allows me to be or make “unusual” decisions on stage and get laughs from it. Jacksonville is the reason I am the comic I am today, and I couldn’t be happier being where I’m at with the beginning stages of my career.
How is the show at the Wine Bar different from other shows around Jacksonville? What kind of acts are you getting?
The show at the Wine Bar is a comedy showcase, which means all the comics for each night are handpicked to come and do time. There are comics who have featured in clubs around Jacksonville and some surrounding areas, and there are local comics who perform at mics around town. A good portion of the weekly shows are open mics, meaning anyone can arrive at a certain time before the show, put their name on a list and perform. Comedy Uncorked is one of two comedy showcases in Jacksonville, and right now, it’s the only place you can see stand-up comedy in Jacksonville Beach. It’s an early show beginning around 7 p.m. and ending around 9 p.m. We feature an in-house DJ, which is a unique feature that other shows around Jax do not incorporate. Walk up music for a comic is always a nice touch.
Comedians from all over Florida and into Georgia have come out to do sets on our stage. We have musical comedy acts, family men, raunchy acts, strictly clean comedians, one-liner and pun comics, comics who read their jokes out of a notebook verbatim, we have all types of people from all walks of life. From the fairly well-known comedians of the Jax comedy scene to the unknown, Comedy Uncorked provides a stage for anyone with the skill to bring the funny.
Do you view comedy as an art form? If so, why?
Comedy is an art form. It’s one of the highest forms of personal expression. You have an arena to speak your thoughts and feelings freely and honestly. We are reporters, writers, actors, in some cases musicians, teachers or detectives. Comedy and comedians have all of those traits, and they are all on display in one form. You can have an opinion and not be wrong, you can defend the little guy who might not never get a microphone to speak his mind, you can make people feel differently then the way they felt before they heard your set, you can show people a different way of viewing life and the situations that arise within it. There is a craft to writing and performing comedy that takes talent and skill and practice. When you see the best of the best, you know comedy is art.
What made you want to start a weekly night in Jacksonville Beach?
I live in Jax Beach, and I wanted a show at the beaches. I knew that all it would take is a good venue and the right promotion, and we could have something special right in our own backyard. Currently, all of the mics are in Riverside and other areas downtown and they do well, but it’s hard for me to convince beach natives to drive all the way out to the shows. I believe there is too much talent to go unnoticed by whole cities worth of people. I’ve lived at the beach for almost 10 years now and many of my friends and acquaintances live here. I wanted them to be able to see a show without having to drive over the dreaded “ditch.” We started up a show at Ginger’s Place called the G-Spot Comedy Hour, which was an open mic where people sign up and go up. After that fell through, I wanted a showcase rather than an open mic, so that people could get fresh comedy each week from a group of highly capable local acts, while also getting a good idea of the caliber of talent the Jacksonville scene has to offer. People are amazed at the amount of skilled comedians we have in Jax, and I’m happy to have a place where those comedians can come showcase those skills.
How would you describe your style apart from other comedians?
The easiest way I could think to describe my style is organized chaos. Some of the things I do on stage are based more on the performance aspect of comedy than the jokes themselves. I like to provoke crowd reactions and do strange or peculiar things that most people wouldn’t expect. I want people to understand that comedy is an abstract art form that can be expressed in ways other then jokes with setups and punchlines. It can be expressed through a character or an idea played out on stage. It’s rare that I get on stage and do weird things just to be weird, for the most part I put thought into why the strange is being done. For most mics around Jax you are given five minutes to do with what you will. When I get five minutes I want to use them in different ways than regular joke telling. I have jokes and stories that I do like any other comic, but there are times when I like to do the unexpected.
What is your stance on political correctness? How has the recent movement toward it affected comedy, either with yourself or otherwise? How do you feel about its place in recent cultural attitudes?
I think comedy is too diverse to get too caught up in being PC. Some comedians do nothing but clean material that may never touch on subjects that require political correctness. Some comedians do blue material and disregard PC. A good comic uses the tools he’s been given and the voice he’s found to write material that either suits him or his goals in comedy. I don’t bother worrying about being politically correct because I personally feel it’s a form of censorship. Comedy is about being honest and speaking your mind and if you are worried that what you are saying is going to offend someone then you are less likely to speak on certain subjects because it may be offensive. I believe you can find meaning in any comedian’s set if you know how to find it.
As far as its effect on comedy, I don’t see too much PC comedy here in Jax. For the most part each comic is different. You can see people who talk about their day or their family, as well as people who talk about religion or politics. It doesn’t affect my comedy unless I’m using it sarcastically or to prove a point. For the most part, I think people who come out to the open mics are intelligent enough to decipher the real hate speech from someone using it to provide comic relief, for the most part.
Do I think that people who speak misplaced hate should be regulated in some manner? I couldn’t tell you and maybe it’s not my place. If someone is saying something I don’t like, I either don’t listen or make an attempt to find common ground. More often than not, I just don’t listen. There’s no need to regulate speech because, for the most part, these people are going to go on speaking this way and acting the way they do. If you want to do something about it then teach the kids early about coexistence and love instead of the opposite.