For much of the 2000s, Potylo desecrated stages (and received some acclaim) by posing as Roadsteamer, a goateed North Shore caricature prone to asking audience members to sniff cocaine off his penis. What started as a ploy to mask his insecurity evolved into Boston cult status, and in 2007 Roadsteamer was given a radio show on WBCN. It lasted less than one year before he got the axe by “guys in management who golf.”
Around the same time, one of comedy’s most notorious headliners inadvertently inspired him to nix the Yankee-redneck routine. “I heard a backstage interview with Andrew Dice Clay, who I know is a shy guy from Brooklyn playing a character,” recalls Potylo. “But he’s stuck, and that scared the shit out of me. I saw myself in 20 years performing at a strip club on Godsmack night.”
Potylo’s experience gigging with so many clowns serves him well for casting Quiet D. In addition to Comedy Studio staples like Shaun Bedgood, Mehran Khaghani, Bigg Nez, and Sean Sullivan, he and Madaus have recruited improv comics like Kevin Harrington; such area alt heroes as Slutcracker director Sugar Dish; and members of the bands Motion Sick, Ketman, HUMANWINE, and the Campaign for Real Time. They also call on everyday jesters like Aaron the King Wizard, an unemployed construction worker from Roxbury who in 2006 helped Roadsteamer highjack the Boston Music Awards (three years before Kanye trampled Taylor Swift), and who has emerged as a crowd favorite for his drunken and impetuous role as Rob’s bodyguard.
On the merit of its line-up alone, it’s no exaggeration to say this orgy of the best Allston has to offer has made the show a regional underground smash.
“The Allston in the show is a created world like South Park,” says Potylo. “Everyone has a choice within that framework. You can play a fictional character, you can be yourself, or you can use your real name and be a gross exaggeration of yourself — like Tom Dustin.”
“I’m definitely a piece of shit in real life, too,” adds Dustin, who portrays a chain-smoking attorney who favors black Republican prostitutes. “Really — I’m not a nice person at all.”
Talking to Potylo at Deep Ellum in the heart of the Quiet D combat zone — one week after the American Legion shoot — it’s no surprise that there have been zero major news or magazine features spotlighting his show. Sure, the minor sensation has trafficked upward of 100,000 views and twice stirred bohemian pandemonium at night-club screenings. But these guys are hardly public-relations wizards.
“Fuck all the entertainment reporters at you-know-which publications, with their wet dreams about Dropkick Murphys, Ben Affleck, and Tom Brady,” Potylo says with Roadsteamer rage. “Those guys get the covers while the rest of us get a paragraph tossed our way every few months. That’s why [Bostonians] lose everybody to bigger cities — it’s the perception that the best gig you can get around here is a Mattress Giant commercial.”
As Potylo sips a beer and lambastes everyone from “plastic” FM jocks to talent scouts, an eavesdropping grease rocker on the next barstool leans in and quotes a Joe Wong line from Webisode seven. It’s just one guy in a leather jacket who probably lives a few blocks from Potylo, but the local legend glows nonetheless. In moments like these, there’s some hope that the desperate cries of Allston’s finest might actually be getting heard.
Chris Faraone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.