The audience for a show at The Stress Factory in New Brunswick on Saturday, February 2nd. was packed into the club and in a lively mood, with drinks flowing and everyone preparing themselves for a good laugh and an average meal. Rich Vos, a Plainfield, NJ native was the headliner.
“Thank you for coming out,” Vos said sarcastically to a gentlemen in the third row, “Did you come here by yourself? Well that’s gotta be creepy,” he said to gather a feel for the room.
Vos has a quality act. He is not a hack, but not hilarious. Vos is funny in that his act is worth five or six good laughs, but he will not have you doubled over.
Regardless of whether you have heard of him, Vos is an accomplished comedian with shows all over the country, recurring gigs in Las Vegas, and he spends a fair amount of his time sitting in for Jim Norton on the popular Opie and Anthony satellite radio show. He has also written jokes for the Oscars.
As Vos stepped to the stage at the Stress Factory, he panned the crowd for material and engaged a few patrons in the first couple of rows in front of him. “Great opening acts,” Vos said, referring to comic with spina bifida who requires crutches to move around, “Nothing like a fucking concert by a cripple guitar player,” he sniped, “Why don’t you just put on fucking Farrakhan before me…the guy’s in perfect health in the back and he comes out fuckin’… ” as the comic wobbled on to demonstrate his point.
Standing hunched over with his shoulders rounded in a Salmon-colored dress shirt, Vos made cracks about race, sex, divorce, and addiction, while taking some shots at himself and the pink shirt he had just “picked up at Marshall’s…..And so what if one sleeve is a little longer than the other”.
This comedian’s act is funny because he is comfortable with the topics he is discussing and he has first-hand experience with all of them. He has overcome divorce, growing up in a tough neighborhood, and a crack addiction.
There is an addiction that admits he cannot shake. “Let me just get a piece of my nicorette gum here,” Vos said as he popped a piece of the nicotine-infused gum, “I been on this shit for 8 years now I am not bullshittin’, I might start smokin’ again to get off this fucking gum,” he snarked, “this is some good shit right here….if you’re not addicted to anything you gotta try this”.
He does not use hacky, physical comedy to tell his jokes; instead he calls on his life experience and interaction with people to write jokes that resonate with his audience. His delivery is raspy and sarcastic and he uses intermittent pauses to set up material.
The headliner got his start over 28 years ago by attending open mic nights and participating in Catch A Rising Star in Manhattan. “I inspired myself to get into Comedy”, Vos stated, adding, “I grew up Jewish in a black neighborhood and I call on my experiences to write jokes”.
Vos feels that experiences in life give you options for material and he says “having experienced marriage, divorce, addiction and recovery I know how it feels and why it is funny”.
Race is a sizeable part of Vos’ act and you can measure the effect of his jokes by the uncomfortable groans in the room when he comments on black men or white women.
“We have got a black president” Vos says, “people make a big deal about the references to race in my act, but black comics talk about whites, males talk about females….it’s no different,” he added.
The comedian feels that you must work “in the moment in order to keep things from gettin’ stale”. He recalled an incident at a recent show saying, “an older woman fainted and that is when you gotta know how to call an audible”.
One member of the audience felt Vos’ routine was “above average.” “He was worth the price of admission”, said Alicia Carroll, an Administrative Assistant from Pennington, NJ. Carroll added, “I would recommend him to a friend for a good night out, but people did not seem to be laughing as much as the other 5 comedians I have seen here”.
I agree with Carroll when she says “no specific joke stood out to me”, but I know if I belly-laugh more than 3 times during the course of a comedian’s routine that person is funny.
I agree with Vos’s description of his comedy as “fearless” and his belief that he “says things you wanna say but don’t” is spot on. When he is on stage any onlooker can tell that Vos has a command and a comfort level with his audience and his surroundings
He has been working on his routine for almost thirty years and although he will not have his own primetime sitcom anytime soon, his show is worth the price of admission.The next east coast shows for Vos are at McGuire’s Comedy Club on Long Island March 14th-15th.
Go see Rich Vos at your local comedy spot. He will make you laugh hard enough to forget the ticket price and what you spent on drinks.