Saturday’s comedy show with Brooks Wheelan and Matty Ryan at the Higdiive was a stark contrast to Thursday night’s Brian Posehn set. The crowd was considerably smaller and more intimate. The smaller audience clustered mostly around tables and the bar leaving quite a bit of open space in the front and center of the room, and based on the performances it seems this may have had an effect on the comedians as well.

Matty Ryan

As Matty Ryan took the stage the crowd managed to tear its eyes from the Cubs game long enough to start to engage. There was a bit of chuckling to begin as he recounted his experiences smoking weed and watching Netflix. “Do you think people in China sit and eat a bag of Oreos like we’re eating a bag of fortune cookies?”. The crowd seemed to become a little more engaged as he told them about the copious amounts of weed he smokes as well as the weird stuff you run into when going to an ethnic market. “Excuse me are you boiling a sloth!?”

Brooks Wheelan

After Matty’s set Brooks Wheelan took the stage. Brooks was on SNL in 2013 and 2014 and has done several web series and TV appearances since. Right off the bat he joked about the audience’s seating arrangement and the open floorspace. “I like how this is seated. It’s mostly aisle.” He dove head first into his set by discussing how he grew up poor. “You don’t realize you’re poor till you figure out Red Lobster isn’t the fanciest restaurant around.” This apparently has affected his life in several ways, including that he has no idea what the proper decorum for wine is. “The server holds up the bottle and I’m like ‘Yep, that’s a fuckin bottle of wine.’ … Sorry, I don’t go to Olive Garden that often.”

The cohesion of the set started to come apart at the seems towards the end. Wheelan managed to keep it alive with some rapid fire jokes. "I went to France not long ago and the police there are just unarmed dudes on Roller blades. Like I'm pretty sure I could have France if I wanted to." He did his best to engage the crowd by asking questions and relating to his own experience. “The one thing Iowa and Illinois really have together is that we’re not Indiana.” Unfortunately the lack of a packed room made for a shortage of the uproarious laughter that really makes a great comedy set. Wheelan and Ryan managed to take it to heart at the end of the night. I spoke with Wheelan after the set who said, “It’s a reminder that you have to keep working really hard.” which I think is a great sentiment. Keep doing your thing, guys. They may not all be awesome but I had a great time anyway.

All photos provided courtesy of Tom Chandler and Odd World Photography.