In a town ruled by live music, celebrations and frequent parades, it can be tough for a local comedian to be heard over the noise.
Luckily for Matt Owens, Katie East, Joe Cardosi and Andrew Polk, their punch lines fell upon the influential ears of comedy superstar Louis C.K., who was so impressed he asked them to perform before his own show at the Joy Theater in November. The locals killed it, so much so that they’ll be back at the Joy on Friday, this time as the main event, Stand-Up Nola.
Matt Owens is a veteran comic who has performed all over the country, but opening for Louis C.K. was definitely a career highlight.
Louis C.K.’s show also helped shine a light on the not-quite-underground New Orleans comedy scene.
“We’ve all toured around and had some successes here and there, but the Louis C.K. show was really sort of epic. To be a stand-up comedian and have the opportunity to open for Louis is about as big as it gets. …Louis sort of breathed this life and fire into the local comedy scene, where it wasn’t getting a lot of attention before. People were flocking to these venues. They were packed,” Owens said.
Louis C.K. used smaller venues like The Howlin’ Wolf to workshop new material while he was in New Orleans, which drew a lot of attention. Crowds lured in by the possibility of a celebrity sighting stayed for the comedy, and Owens said most of them were surprised by how good the homespun stuff was.
“Let’s say Louis didn’t show up that night. Well, now there’s 300 people trapped in the Howlin’ Wolf, and they’re actually having to sit through real New Orleans comics, and the take on it after was ‘Oh my God, these people are really funny! I had no idea!’ And that’s just it.”
Owens has toured all over the country and he thinks that the comedians we have right here in New Orleans can match in quality and variety anything you’d see on TV or in New York.
“I think that the comedians in New Orleans are some of the best comedians in the country. They live here and perform here. We kind of do it out of our backyard. … Comedians in New Orleans are top notch and I think Louis noticed that. … The night of the show at the Howlin’ Wolf, he said, ‘I’ve never seen eight comedians in a row that were all good.’ ”
The locals that will be joining Matt Owens at the Joy Theater are a dream team of comics who he knows and loves. Each one brings a slightly different look, style and delivery to the show. The lineup consists of Upright Citizens Brigade alum Katie East, Massive Fraud podcaster Joe Cardosi, Louisiana backwoods escapee Andrew Polk, House of Blues spokesperson Leon Blanda and Air Sex champ Mary-Devon Dupuy.
“Andrew Polk has two shows, Joe has a show and they also have a show together. Leon has two shows. Katie is a seasoned performer who spent a lot of time in New York and then returned to New Orleans. And Mary-Devon Dupuy is really the only sort of newcomer. She’s pretty new, but she’s very funny. … It’s a really good snapshot of New Orleans comedy because everybody on the show is really funny, really talented and just a little bit different in their style and delivery.”
Owens sees the show at the Joy Theater as the perfect chance for newcomers to dip their toes into the waters of New Orleans comedy and for the comics he loves to get some well-deserved limelight.
“I’m such a huge fan of everybody in the comedy scene in New Orleans … and I just wanted to help them get the exposure they deserve because they’re so talented. … I felt like it was a perfect opportunity to say ‘Look at these talented comedians that are living right here and performing every night in New Orleans. You should go check them out.’ ”
Stand-Up Nola is at 7 p.m. Friday at the Joy Theater, 1200 Canal St. Tickets are $20. The show is for those 18 and up.
Information about the Joy Theater and the stand-up show can be found at thejoytheater.com.