When I arrived at Friday night's JokeSlam two minutes before its scheduled starting time, I felt pretty proud, punctuality not being one of my strong points. Comedians and wrestlers in one night? I could not allow myself to be late to this! Visions of a packed, sweaty room filled with drunken tortilla-throwing enthusiasts swam in my head, intoxicating me with anticipation. Pleased with myself for finding the Café Cocomo, a beacon of light along a desolate stretch of Potrero East, I entered, paid my $5, and dutifully presented my hand for a stamp.
But it would be a while before I saw anything. As I wandered through the large space, I couldn't help but notice the lack of people around me. Other than a few scantily sequined men (whom I assumed were the wrestlers), the bar seemed empty. An organizer approached me and asked "Uh, are you here for the show?" I said, "yes," presenting my marked hand as evidence, and was told that people were waiting in a patio area and would be let in all at once, in about 10 minutes. Ten turned to 20 and 30 and then finally the crowd was let in at 8:45. So much for being on time.A wrestling ring was set up in the middle of the room, with a stage behind it and seating around and above it. The first group of wrestlers , Jeckles the Jester and Dylan Drake, were unimpressive. The slapstick nature of the combat felt overdone. Yet the small crowd seemed personally connected to the wrestlers, and the energy of the room was grand. After the San Francisco native wrestler, Dylan Drake, beat the eerily painted "Jester" from out of town (a profile on a wrestling website names his hometown as "Carny-ville), host Jabari Davis, himself a comedian, introduced Dash Kwiatkowski for the first stand-up routine. Appropriately attired in a feather boa and faux fur jacket, "Macho- Dash" performed a short but entertaining set in his best WWF wrestling voice. Jabari then introduced the next set of wrestlers, an acrobatic tag team consisting of Mike Hayashi and Mike Rayne, whose flips and kicks instantly changed the feel in the room - and made them a fair match for their much larger opponents, the Suburban Commandos. As the night went on, each set of wrestlers followed by a comedian, the entertainers became more exciting. The room never did fill up, and no tortillas were thrown, but by the end of the night, wrestling and comedy seemed to be a natural match. Despite the late start, and the overall seeming disorganization, I found myself wondering whether I should put on some spandex and challenge my roommate when I got home. Something about watching wrestling makes me want to wrestle, a feeling that no other sport really gives me.
Comic breaks were the perfect way to release the tension built up during a match, especially the more exciting later sets, many of which poured out of the ring and onto the cheering and jeering fans. Unfortunately, JokeSlam is only an annual event, so you will have to wait until next year to see this eccentric combination. In the meantime, does anyone know where I can get some sequined lycra pants?