On May 11th, 2019, The Upper Room presented Comedian Nazareth in an Upper Room live performance.
Founder and host, Ron Strand, greeted the audience at 7:30 pm. He began the evening with “70s Trivia.” Some of the questions were: Which two countries financed the Concorde jet (United Kingdom and France), The final episode of which TV show was watched by 100 million viewers in 1977 (“Roots”), In 1972, this became the most highly produced car in the world (Volkswagen Beetle), In 1973, which horse won the coveted Triple Crown (Secretariat), Which 1979 movie featured the ginger-haired cat named Jones (“Alien”) and What sport was featured in the 1970 film “Love Story” (ice hockey)?
Ron introduced the first comedian of the evening, Mike Hughes, to the stage. After his opening remarks, Mike warned the audience that they were in for 2 ½ hours of dad jokes.
Mike shared that he’s originally from Cleveland, OH. He referenced the sports drought where none of the city’s professional teams won a championship for fifty-two years. According to Mike, it’s because the city “promotes defeat and disappointment.”
Mike spoke of Lake Erie, a popular hangout spot near Cleveland. Apparently the lake is so polluted it actually caught on fire years ago. Mike said it’s so bad now, every time you get out of the water a cheeseburger wrapper sticks to your back. Mike’s short act was filled with such humorous moments.
For the main event, Ron invited Nazareth to the stage. After greeting the audience, Nazareth confessed that he loves living in California. Admiration quickly turned to good-natured ribbing as Nazareth criticized the state’s congested transportation system. He asked why freeways can’t just be named for what they are, like “Potholes Galore.”
On several occasions during his act, Nazareth sought out specific people in the audience and engaged them in conversation. Nazareth is masterful at riffing with people and creating humorous moments out of casual chats. He spent roughly a third of his time working the audience in this way, which made for a more improvised and interactive act.
A memorable example of this kind of spontaneous exchange was when a woman got up from her seat in the middle of one of Nazareth’s sketches. Nazareth approached the woman and asked her a series of questions about her occupation and odd-looking jacket. Her answers, and Nazareth’s reaction to them, left the audience in stitches.
Nazareth said that when he first came to America, he struggled to learn our customs. He shared some key points from his manual for living in America. 1. Don’t tip cops. He made that mistake and ended up in the back seat of a police cruiser. 2. You must join in singing “Happy Birthday” to a complete stranger at a restaurant. 3. You have to stop and take pictures of people when they ask you to. One time, a married couple wasn’t satisfied with his work and made him keep taking pictures of them from different angles to get better lighting. 4. You must ride a mechanical bull…but not in shorts and slippers like he did.
Nazareth closed out the concert with an uproariously funny catalog of snore sounds. Nazareth recounted the time he had to share a hotel room with a guy whose snore sounded like he was sawing a tree and eating Doritos at the same time. Nazareth’s gestures and sound effects brought the house down.
The night of comedy at The Upper Room was a memorable experience and a fun way to spend the evening.