With a new year comes a renewed sense of promise, hope, and opportunity. Unless you live in America circa 2009, that is, in which case the new year brings creeping terror, two more weeks of George W. Bush, and deepening depressions both economic and spiritual. Look on the bright side: If the Mayans were right, we've only gotta do this three more times before we can find solace in sweet, apocalyptic oblivion. Until then, soothe your aching soul with the balm of live comedy.
This week's cure for what ails ya arrives courtesy of local up-and-comer Erik Allen. Yes, it's true that his headshot makes him look conspicuously like a sexual predator hiding under a waterfall at a fancy mini-golf course, but don't let that throw you -- Allen is one of the top young comics on the local circuit and a regular emcee at Acme. He was also the winner of the Twin Cities' Funniest Person contest. Allen is a clean comic, and not just because he stands under waterfalls. The phrase "clean comedy" often conjures nightmarish memories of Howie Mandel specials and Last Comic Standing hacks doing groundbreaking jokes about how men are different than women and cell phones can be annoying. While Allen's act is mild enough to come Tonight Show-ready, it's also consistently unique, quirky as hell, and sharply delivered. He's a gifted storyteller and an endlessly good-natured performer who reserves his most scathing reproaches for himself.
Allen's emcee spots at Acme only give him ten or so minutes to cycle through his extensive catalogue of material. This week's feature appearance at the Joke Joint will let him stretch his metaphorical legs and dole out a triple-dose of the funny. He's performing with headliner Mike Merryfield, a seasoned pro who is fast becoming a Joke Joint regular -- and for good reason. You'll get five chances this weekend to find out why Merryfield keeps coming back and Allen is a talent on the rise. Even the Timberwolves can manage a victory twenty percent of the time; shouldn't you expect at least as much of yourself?Erik Allen appears at the Joke Joint Jan. 8 through 10. 18+. Shows start at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 7:30 on Saturday, with late shows at 10:30 on Friday and 10 on Saturday. $12 (except Thursday, which is discounted to $8). Located at 2300 E. American Blvd. in Bloomington inside the Ramada Inn near the Mall of America. For reservations call 612.327.0185.