He's also really funny, with a routine primarily consisting of acoustic strumming — a song called "Someone Put a Condom on My Dreams," a right-wing dig called "Construction Boots" that was written "in case Obama didn't win" — peppered with manic mid-song banter and gleefully abrasive audience confrontation. There's also the occasional theft of a crab Rangoon off a front-row patron's table.

"It's an insane, ridiculous act, and to know how much he cares about it almost makes it funnier to me," says Mauss. "A lot of new comics are trying to do an impression of what they think a comic should be like. Robby just has a very specific idea of what he wants out of comedy. He isn't really influenced by any outside expectations."

"Like him or hate him," says Coxen, "when you see him you feel like you're seeing something innovative."

In fact, Potylo toyed with the idea of packing up for NYC to pursue his comedy career a few years back. But whether his intensely local themes — Revere Beach, Route 1 in Saugus — would've caught on in Gotham is a riddle for the ages. He decided to stay put, figuring he was better served marshalling the troops to make the Boston scene the best it could be.

That fealty has only strengthened since two months ago, when Potylo's mother passed away suddenly, and he was rallied around and supported by fellow comedians and musicians from Salem to Somerville. "The unconditional love from so many artists has been keeping me going through this," he says.

Meanwhile, he keeps getting on stage, and doing his part to boost the hometown team. "I still believe things can happen from time to time," says Potylo. All it takes "is someone besides the comedians to get on the boat."

Mike Miliard can be reached atmmiliard@phx.com.

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