I went to a Sunday night comedy show to see a local celebrity peform: Fancy Ray McCloney.
Fancy Ray is the textbook definition of a local celebrity. I'm not sure how his career has evolved, but he does standup comedy and local commercials, and has hosted a cable access show. He has parlayed his local fame and charisma into appearances on national TV. He was featured on Maury Povich's talk show, (which isn't anything to be proud of,) and has also appeared on one of the 12,000 syndicated courtroom shows people seem to love. I believe his case was aired on "Texas Justice." One of his earliest television appearances was not as Fancy Ray, but as Bruno El Diablo on the 1980s lip sync show "Puttin' on the Hits." (He is called "Skeebo," I think, by the host at the end of the clip.) Ray has posted a clip of his appearance on YouTube.
Ray is a Minnesota guy, evidently, but has parlayed his local fame into commercial gigs in markets around the country and even overseas. Clips of some of his commercials are also available on YouTube. Locally many of his commercials have been for adult-oriented businesses, or businesses that appeal to lower-income viewers. His commercials rarely appear outside of late night time slots.
Nationally he can claim he has appeared on "The Tonight Show," "America's Got Talent" and "Last Comic Standing." He hasn't, to the best of my knowledge, been a featured performer on any of those shows. He was featured in an on-the-street clip on The Tonight Show, as I recall, and I'm guessing his appearances on NBC's talent shows were for his auditions. I don't think he was a contestant on those shows, but perhaps I'm wrong. Had he been a contestant, I'm guessing he'd never let us forget it.
Although he has long worked as a standup comic, I've never known him to perform on a regular basis here in the Twin Cities. The first time I saw him was when I worked in Canada. He did a weekend of comedy shows in the middle of winter on the Minnesota border. It was rather entertaining. A few years later I saw one of his rare local shows in the Twin Cities. I bet that was 11 or 12 years ago. Sunday night I saw his schtick for the third time, spanning more than 15 years.
Part of his show is playing up his love of himself. He calls himself "the best looking man in comedy" and the "human chocolate orchid." He talks about how much he loves himself, making jokes about having candlelight dinners with himself, making love to himself and so on. It's kind of funny, but it's not comedy so much as it's schtick. It's a flamboyant guy who admits to being androgynous, talking about how much he loves himself. It's entertaining, but to a point. His act wouldn't work if he didn't do traditional comedy, which he does.
His show on Sunday night was outdoors. A lakeside bar/restaurant is hosting weekly shows all summer. They call it Beach Blanket Comedy. It's cheap, just $10, and allegedly comes with a $5 drink credit. Each week you can see a local comic headline the show. (Maybe some of them are touring comics, what do I know?)
Sunday's show started 30 minutes late, for no reason I'm aware of. Ray was hanging out at the outdoor bar and talking with anybody and everybody that crossed his path before the show ever started.
Eventually the show began. As is the case with most standup comedy, there's a host who introduces each comic and gets a chance to do three or five minutes of comedy at the beginning of the show. The dude they had hosting the show was painfully funny. He was so bad it was funny.
The opening comic was OK, the second guy started out strong but faded into mediocrity too soon. Ray finished up with a decent set. Despite that, I doubt I will see Ray perform again, and I'm not interested in going back to Bayview Park/Bayside Grill for another comedy show.
The show was held in an area they must use for outdoor weddings. It was fine for 90 minutes of comedy, but as it got dark, the lack of lighting on the stage was a bit annoying. By late August, when I'd consider going back to see another local guy I like, it will definitely be dark before the show ends. That was the least of the problems.
Add the terrible host, the late start and the mediocre warm-up acts into the mix and you have a weak comedy show. To make it worse: despite the fact this was the second Sunday of standup comedy at the venue, they were out of vouchers for a $5 drink credit. I was told to find somebody specific about getting my $5 credit. I didn't bother, all I wanted was a Diet Pepsi. And it's not as if the Sunday night comedy show is a big hit. People aren't lining up to see the show. They were already selling discount tickets to the show via Groupon. Yet somehow Bayview didn't have vouchers to hand out to its patrons? That's ridiculous, and unprofessional.
But the coup de grâce was something beyond Bayview's control. Some dude, his wife, children and parents -- or some dynamic similar to that -- sat in the front row. Middle-aged dude decided that he needed to interject himself into the show. He got ripped by one of the warmup guys, and he seemed to take it in stride, and enjoy it a bit, but he couldn't stop flapping his gums. The dude was damn annoying. Ray had an exchange with him, as well, but it wasn't as drawn out or painful. Nonetheless this chumbolone managed to annoy me as I sat through an unprofessionally conducted comedy show.
As I said, it's likely the last time I see Ray perform. Forget what a lousy job Bayside did, Ray just isn't as entertaining to me. Perhaps I'm getting old, but his fawning over himself and telling people how pretty he is just doesn't entertain me like it use to. There just wasn't enough real comedy in his show, and I wasn't as entertained. I wasn't bored. I laughed plenty, but I don't feel the need to see his act again.
Would I go see him again if you offered me free tickets and drinks? I suppose, as long as the show isn't at Bayside.