Tom Papa and Marc Maron may have stood on the same stage Saturday night, but that’s where the similarities end.
The two very different comedians performed for more than 500 audience members at the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center, garnering a mixed response.
Papa, the mellower of the two, opened the show by joking about his not-so-luxurious stay at the Peach Tree Inn, complaining that they used space heaters to warm the rooms. He then spent the majority of his allotted 45 minutes talking about his home life, specifically his wife, her pregnancy and their two girls.
“Find someone you can sleep next to without throwing up – and marry them,” Papa advised the audience, explaining that the most they can hope for is to find someone they tolerate who tolerates them back.
He also spent time poking fun at himself – specifically his weight, his baldness (including the fact that his head sweats when he eats spicy food), and the size of his head (which he playfully claimed was the same size in third grade as it is now).
Topics like dieting, working out and religion took up the rest of Papa’s routine.
“What if God didn’t intend for us to eat the animals?” he asked the crowd rhetorically. “He must have been pretty freaked out when we started.”
Papa had the audience hooked from his first joke to his last and earned a long round of applause before exiting the stage.
“I liked the first guy,” said Tom Murphy, one of the audience members. “Didn’t like the second.”
Marc Maron, the edgier comic of the two, had a much harder time connecting with the crowd.
“I’m a little different tone than Tom,” said Maron, seeming all too familiar with the audience’s reluctance to embrace him. “You’re going to have to adjust.”
Covering topics ranging from Hurricane Katrina to religion and traffic to racism, Maron liberally used the F-word to emphasize his alternative style, something he calls “smart comedy.”
“There is no bottom to the great American stupid pit,” he joked, taking stabs at obesity rates and the president.
“At some level, George Bush is the right president to oversee the end of the world.”
Maron never managed to capture the entire audience’s approval. However, those who did laugh at his jokes usually clapped and hollered as well, despite the fact that the comedian went close to half an hour over his allotted 45 minutes.
“It was definitely two very different styles of humor,” said Scott Coffman, a warehouseman for Cal Poly. “You could tell half liked the first guy, half liked the other.”
Both comics are late-night talk show regulars and have had specials on Comedy Central. Papa opened for Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy tour and had his own NBC sitcom entitled “Come to Papa” in 2004, which only ran for four episodes.
Maron, who had a small role in “Almost Famous” and was featured in an HBO Comedy Showcase, joked that he could fill half a theater anywhere in the country.
“If I ever do another HBO special, it’s going to be ‘Marc Maron: Almost Sold-Out.’”