I could never be a stand-up comedian. Sure, I crack wise with my friends, but I’m not dynamic like a stand-up comic. I can’t handle hecklers, I can’t improvise jokes on the spot, and I sure as hell can’t perform for a crowd that isn’t on my side. Sammy Obeid, pronounced “Obeyed,” is a different story. The man currently holds the record for consecutive days performing stand-up at an astonishing 1,001 nights in a row, so he knows a thing or two about practicing his craft. Performing comedy every night for three years is enough to turn heads on its own, but to go on stage, despite bombing it or knocking it out of the park, is beyond my ability to envision. He’s performed at the Laugh Factory in LA, as well as being featured on The Conan O’Brien Show. However, these material accolades lack the ability to give an accurate portrayal of Sammy as himself. On top of that, a simple run through of his set would not do justice to what occurred in the Union Ballroom on Wednesday night.
The comedic portion of the show was preceded by an electrifying performance featuring a stream of rappers, culminating at the headliners, local rappers $killz and Scumbag Kea. Both brought a constant wave of energy for the crowd to feed off, as they fed off the crowd’s energy. I could be found bouncing around in front of stage center, with many others, in a red lumberjack hat, a hoodie, and burton gloves. How the show took the turn from the amped-up rap set, to an intimate comic set, I have no idea. The idea behind combining a rap show with a comic set is still an absolute anomaly, but somehow it worked.
To the comedic chapter of the night, things calmed down a bit, as nearly half the crowd vacated at the end of the rap set. As Chicagoland comedian Prateek Srivastava came up for a short set, the mood was much more understated. At that, performing to a small crowd has got to be a daunting task for a comedian, but Prateek rose to the occasion, pulling laughs out of the oddest of situations, from Lil B concerts to stealing multiple samples of lube, (don’t ask.) It made me happy to know the strong performances of the night were not going to be limited to the rappers. By the time Sammy took the stage our funny bones were warmed up, thanks to Prateek.
Having viewed a bit of Sammy’s stand-up on Youtube days prior, I had an outline of what to expect. What I loved about experiencing his comedy in person was the extent to which he switched up his old jokes, and improvised new jokes on the spot. It is so crucial for a comedian to be able to do that, and the well-seasoned comedian did just that. The crowd was small, but he had us in his pocket almost immediately, at least, he had me hooked. Hell, maybe I was so submerged in the comedy I didn’t notice if anyone else was laughing. But really, I think comedy is working, even if you only reach one person in the crowd. Regardless, by the end of the set, Sammy had forged a connection with the crowd, through laughter, similar to the one $killz and Scumbag Kea had made, through music, during their sets. He even brought the rappers back on stage for a comically inclined interview, and ended the set with an ever appropriate freestyle rap that you just had to be there for. Plain and simple, if you’ve never experienced the comedy of Sammy Obeid, Youtube that shit.
Cover photo credit: funcheap.com