by Sam Spence
Wyatt Cenac isn't on Twitter. He makes notes on his phone instead as a "depository for half-baked ideas." After all, he is a stand-up comedian. "Why would I be on Twitter when I can gather a few hundred of you in a room and just tell you?" he explains. "Hash-tag: 'Thank You'."
Former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac kicked off the Charleston Comedy Festival with some of his queued up Tweets, riffs on why festival sponsor Guilty Pleasures seemed to get more applause during the intro than the venerable City Paper (who can blame them?), and calls for gender equality in our nation's nightclubs. With a decade of laughs under its belt, this year is the first time the Comedy Fest has hosted a blockbuster kick-off show, Theatre 99's Brandy Sullivan and Greg Tavares told an excited crowd of about 500 at the Charleston Music Hall.
First off, this is not your Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac. Dressed, as he put it, "like a bike shop employee," Cenac appeared decidedly more Brooklyn (his home turf), than John Oliver, the Comedy Central colleague he worked alongside for five years before leaving the show last month. After years of awkward interviews with politicians and playing "Rappers or Republicans," Cenac is now writing in his own voice instead of John Stewart's version of an ironic Edward R. Murrow. Which is probably why Cenac's lines tended more toward ripping Trace Adkins for his custom confederate flag earpiece ("is there just some really hateful artist who only works in very small mediums?") and less toward the debt ceiling. Though Cenac did grouse about why, despite a flagging economy, some Kickstarter projects, like an interpretive dance tribute to Johnny Cash (turns out that's a real thing), meet their funding goal, "That's just country night at a hipster bar!"
Wrapping up his set and looking forward to this weekend, Cenac advised audience members to observe 'Dr. Marty's Day" with the "same disrespect as St. Patrick's Day." And maybe to take along a vegetarian, which he says he prefers to go drinking with, "because they're always three drinks away from a cheeseburger."
The Comedy Festival continues through Saturday, with shows across downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Visit CharlestonComedyFestival.com for more information.