Great Laughs, Cheap Seats at Workhouse
By URIAH KISER
LORTON, Va. – The first time the Workhouse Arts Center held a comedy show, a massive derecho storm hit after the performance leaving hundreds of thousands without power.
Now, about a month later and power back on, they thought why not hold another comedy show?
A sold-out crowd packed the theater at the Workhouse on Friday night to see Jason Weems, a Baltimore County, Md. kindergarten teacher by day, and comedian of Washington, D.C. Improve and NBC’s Last Comic Standing fame by night.
“I may be the only black man who voluntarily walked into a prison,” Weems said as he opened his joke set. He referred to the Workhouse’s past as once being a correctional facility.
Weems tackled political humor, laid on jokes about his day job working as a school teacher, and uncannily interacted with the audience – many of whom were not ready for his fast wit.
“The people down here in the front row are the ones that normally don’t sit so close because they’re afraid the comic is going to pick on them. But they’re the only ones with comfortable seats. The rest of you guys are sitting on those bleachers that look like recycled coolers,” said Weems.
The plastic bleacher seats that rise above the floor-level stage were the butt of many jokes that night. Comedy show organizer Rahmein Mostafavi, of Fredericksburg, jokingly promised to install new seats in time for the next show and got some affirmative reactions from the audience. He quickly batted them back.
“OK, Lorton, it’s not that bad. There wasn’t even a comedy show here until a month ago,” said Mostafavi.
Featuring Weems as the headliner and comedian Mike James who warmed up the crowd, the comic show clearly packed some unexpected moments for some audience members. An admittedly rated R show for language, not all of the jokes played well to the entire crowd.
Weems on several occasions noted one side of the room laughed more often than the other (full disclosure: I was on the laughing side of the room), and he returned to several jokes played well earlier in the set when a new one didn’t get as many laughs as he’d clearly hoped.
There were, however, several well deserved applause breaks throughout the evening as Weems mixed outrageous humor, acting, and connected with audience members when he spoke about being a teacher.
Tickets for Friday night’s comedy show sold for $10 each. Mostafavi’s Cool Cow Comedy plans a third show at the Workhouse for August. Information for chowtimes and tickets can be found on his website.