nlike virtually everybody else at the Comedy Store, I wasn’t there to see Nick Kroll. Although, before the show he did stroll right past our table with the nonchalance I have only found at the Store. I didn’t scream his name like the guy sitting across from us. Unlike him and most others, I wasn’t there because of Kroll’s shows. I am not a big fan of either one, but I liked him on the James Franco Roast. And I am a big fan of comedy and comics. So, I was there to admire.
What I saw, turned me into a Nick Kroll fan.
He didn’t come out and spout 15 minutes of polished, rehearsed jokes guaranteed to get easier laughs. Instead, he experimented. He could have effortlessly played one of his beloved TV characters, or performed jokes he knew were funny. But instead of delivering the expected greatest hits, he chose to play Jazz. He was like a rapper freestyling at a concert, rather than delivering their hottest tracks. Kroll jammed and adapted to the crowds’ instant feedback. For most of his set our collective, changing vibe guided his performance.
Which included sound effects, Nazi jokes, and references to 1920s slap-stick humor. It ended and Kroll's biggest fan sitting across from my friend and I said, “He kind of bombed.” My friend nodded in agreement. Then, dozens of other fans echoed the same sentiment as we all exited the Store. Suddenly, I was Nick Kroll’s biggest fan.
I found myself being the only one who liked his routine. It unsurprisingly had ups and downs because he was testing new ideas in real time. We didn’t watch him play, we watched him practice. So, what others considered duller moments, were my favorite. Not because I disliked him. The opposite. The jokes that didn’t land were the best because they were pure evidence that Kroll was taking chances. An admirable choice, that also almost inevitably leads to blunders.
Proof of which was signed, sealed and delivered when Kroll finished one bit with, “I have no end to this one.” Stumbling like he did then, personified the necessary risk that comes with testing new material. A risk necessary to create new, compelling content. The same risk necessary for every artist to consistently take in order to make what they create great. It was incredibly inspiring to see a celebrity Comic step up to a salivating crowd and choose to take artistic risks, rather than safely fit a mold.