Two guys walk into a bar . . .

The debut of the Union Square Round Table
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  November 13, 2006

Eugene Mirman
From the outside, P.A.’s Lounge looks like a place a man in a joke about a bar might think twice about bringing his talking dog into. But inside it’s clean, comfortable, and warm. Warm as in welcoming, to patrons and to all kinds of music and poetry and film. So this little alt-arts watering hole in Somerville was a logical home for the first Union Square Round Table, a variety show a week ago Wednesday that featured comedians, short films and cartoons, and singer-songwriters for roughly two hours plus an intermission. The event drew the same open-minded indie-inclined crowd that would turn out for Eugene Chadbourne or Bright. And another’s in the works for January. Before the gig, I caught up at the bar with the Walsh Brothers, a couple of funny guys from Charlestown poised for a national breakthrough. They’d recently played the Aspen Comedy Festival, where, besides wowing the crowd, they were nearly busted for scaling a giant taxidermied moose and trying to steal a couple of vans to get to a party. Awesome.

The night’s theme was “enemies,” and organizer Ben Dryer, the former publisher of local humor mag the Weekly Week, did the best job of sticking to it, with a pseudo-powerpoint presentation of historical battles between the likes of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Quincy Adams and Adam Ant. Mean-hearted bastards, all. Painfully sensitive singer-songwriters Matt MacDonald and Nick Branigan and novelist Erik P. Kraft were upstaged by the terse, sardonic cartoons of George Pfromm — even if Dryer couldn’t figure out how to keep his computer’s desktop from showing up on the projection screen.

The Walshes and former Boston comic turned rising star Eugene Mirman kicked things up in the second half — especially the Walshes. They burst into the room in black ZZ Top–length beards, threatening us “scumbags” and “greasy motherfuckers” in the guise of two undercover detectives who’d lured us to P.A.’s with the premise of a comedy show. Their plan: to bust us all for outstanding warrants — and to embarrass some of their friends in the audience. They were loud, profane, unruly, and awesome.

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