The Tom Booker Roast
Last night, baby, it hurt so good
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
2:05PM, Fri. Sep. 2, 2011
Last night at midnight,
in the downstairs theatre at The Hideout,
as part of the Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival,
local improviser, Confidence Man, dog minder
and co-owner of the Institution Theatre
– Mr. Tom Booker, we're referencing here –
was treated to what the ancient Norse called a flyting.
Ten close friends – or, at least,
ten people who know him in one capacity or another –
gathered to insult Booker (and each other) to smithereens.
It's called a roast; it's a way of showing love.
Tough, excruciating love, the way a hammer loves a nail,
the way Cortés loved the Aztecs & their clever chocolatl.
Ted Meredith, he of Esther's Follies fame, was the perfectly engaging master of ceremonies,
leading off with a skillful skewering of each guest and the guest of honor.
And then the others – Aden Kirschner, Asaf Ronen, John Ratliff, Michael Ferstenfeld,
Kacey Samiee, Curtis Luciani, C.J. Allen, Troy Dillinger, and Jeremy Lamb –
took their turns with the lambasting.
And if you think improvisers can't handle non-improv gags?
If you suspect they're improvisers only because they'd totally fail at stand-up?
Then you haven't heard what these improvisers
(and even odd-man-out, non-improviser, and weakest link Dillinger)
came up with by way of slicing their pal Booker to ribbons.
I tell you this: It was one of the most enjoyable shows
I've seen in my (oh good lord) two decades of culture-vulturing
in this overloaded-with-performative-goodness city.
And that's not even counting Curtis Luciani.
Good bleeding Christ, people
I mean, the man's not infallible, okay?
I mean, I've seen Luciani & his comedy partners Joel Osborne and Courtney Hopkin
do their sketch stuff as the troupe called Your Terrific Neighbors, okay?
And out of the six different things I've seen them do, one was kind of meh,
three were yeah-that's-pretty-damned-funny, and only two – only two, goddamnit –
were the sort of brilliance that devastate you and have you quoting them for years afterward,
like you'd do with the best of SNL or Monty Python.
But at last night's Tom Booker Roast at The Hideout,
Curtis Luciani left even the best of the other bon-motsers in the dust
and made his own YTN masterworks seem weak by comparison.
One speaks of a rapier wit?
One imagines a sort of cross between a rapier and a Gatling gun –
and then can only estimate the number of such weapons
this Luciani fellow must have embedded in the folds of his prodigious forebrain.
But that's the thing, see?
Because, the man being roasted? Tom Booker?
Tom Booker, former M-list TV commercial and sitcom character actor?
Tom Booker, who moved to Austin after a trainwreck relationship sent him packing from L.A.?
Tom Booker, who runs the Institution Theatre with his friend Asaf Ronen
and is not only truly, frequently hilarious but also one of the sweetest, most supportive
and decent namedroppers in this drought-harried town?
Tom Booker deserved nothing less than the best agony & adoration
any group of people could provide.
And, thanks to those righteously witty nine plus Curtis Luciani, that's just what he got.
And if you missed it, I'm sorry, people,
but you weren't part of one of the luckiest audiences of all time.
Still, there is a video in the works, yes, and we'll be linking to it A-S-A-P.