On Tuesday night, the Uptown Comedy Club held its second weekly comedy night at Germantown’s Wired Beans Cafe, a location that comedian and emcee Craig McLaren was chosen for friends and families because of its intimate neighborhood atmosphere.
“It’s comfortable,” McLaren said. “It’s up close and personal. It’s like you can’t escape the comedy in here. It reminds me of some of the spots I see in New York where they’ll turn the trunk of your car into a comedy show.”
Through networking, McLaren got Ken Jones, Lamont Maxx and headliner Top Flight on this week’s bill.
There, they riffed on topics related to Facebook, politics, family dynamics and relationship issues. What wasn’t on their mind was turning a profit.
“It’s not really about making any money,” McLaren explained. “It’s just about being able to come out and do some comedy and give other comedians an opportunity to test they’re jokes and share the microphone in a decent place.”
Jones, who has been cracking wise for two years, said the Uptown Comedy Club offered an opportunity to try out his material.
“I got on the show because Craig was like, ‘I got a little showcase and I can give you some time.’ I was like, ‘Some time? I need to practice,'” he explained. “So, that’s how I practice my jokes to make sure they’re good so that when I get real shows, I can blow up.
“Every laugh makes me want to do another laugh. I love to laugh. That’s what I live for. Hopefully, I’ll get a couple giggles tonight.”
McLaren, who also hosts a monthly show at Club Risque, said there are comedic diamonds in the proverbial rough.
“There’s a lot of hidden talent in Philadelphia. Kevin Hart isn’t the only one,” McLaren said, referring to the Philadelphia-raised well-known talent.
“Being a comedian is hard,” he continued. “Sometimes we do comedy in bars and raggedy spots. The open mics in this city is crazy where the lists may be so long. It may take you months just to do three minutes.”
Although some comedians make it look easy when they take the mic, McLaren said his three-year journey was anything but.
“[Comedy] is something that I always wanted to do, but fear kept me from pursuing it the way I wanted to,” McLaren said. “First time I did comedy was in high school and shortly after, I became a father. Family stuff kicked in and I just let my dream go.”
He returned to writing new material five years ago. After prayer and practice, McLaren said he told jokes on his job about his family and life experiences. Some material comes with an edge. He also does impressions ranging from Jay-Z and Katt Williams to Barack Obama and Mayor Michael Nutter.
“I haven’t gotten any flack about my material because mostly, I’m talking about me and my experiences,” McLaren said. “It takes a long time to build a set. It takes a long time to find a set that works everywhere. And when you find [that set], you have to assume that everyone hasn’t seen it. Once you get a set, you ride it.”
Alicia Ford is a regular patron of McLaren’s comedy shows, and she vouched for its hilarity.
“As long as you keep me laughing with tears down my face, I’m good,” Ford said.
The comedy night is held from 8 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday at the Chelten Plaza cafe.