Mike Merryfield is a comedic ninja, a highly-trained humorous assassin who never lets on how deadly he is until he pounces. And when he does, everyone better be on their toes. Actually, I take that back. The guys are totally fine; they're not in any danger at all. It's the women who'd better be on their guard.
His new album, Cupcakes and Potpourri, starts off innocently enough, with some solid material about Vicodin and how he got his hands on his own little stash and the audience is none the wiser about what they've gotten themselves into.
Especially the women.
Merryfield garners a few more laughs, casually circling, feeling out the crowd.
The women suspect nothing.
He trades some fun conversation with members of the audience and it's already proving to be another great night at the comedy club.
God save the women.
And then, out of nowhere, Merryfield pounces.
"I'm so tired of your stupid vaginas, can I just say that?"
The audience, men and women both, are caught off-guard and a stunned laughter fills the room. Merryfield takes advantage of the opportunity and is off and running. For the next 30 minutes, Merryfield unleashes both barrels and the ladies never knew what hit them. Merryfield doesn't let up and there are no lobs here. Each zinger is a fastball, hurtling from the stage at 98 MPH and each one is aimed at the head.
Comedians doing material about the differences between men and women is nothing new. It's been done ever since the first caveman stepped in front of a faux-brick wall and talked about women not being able to control their newest discovery, the wheel. What's important to note, though, is that for years and years male comics have been able to talk trash about women on stage and get away with it because, after a few minutes of giving them a hard time, they then focus on their own gender. Everyone from Cosby to Carlin, Seinfeld to Sinbad, gives both sexes equal time, pointing out the goofy little idiosyncrasies in all of us.
Merryfield has decided to take the law into his own hands. There will be no man-bashing here. He still talks about the same things as other comics: marriage, relationships, dating, the big dumb sunglasses girls wear, even circumcision. He just does it from a "it's all your fault" point of view.
And yet, he pulls it off.
Regardless of how hard he hits and how many tirades he spews, the audience - both male and female - is laughing with him the entire time. And how could they not? Like it or not, what Merryfield says is funny.
There's only one point where Merryfield cuts a little too close and he is almost drowned out by the raging sea of "BOO's" that come flooding toward the stage. Instead of being overwhelmed, Merryfield simply takes in that energy, swallows it, and comes back even stronger than before, a human hydra of hilarity.
But this is comedy, and the crowd understands that. There are no hard feelings. It's a smart crowd Merryfield is working with and they're in on the jokes and along for the ride. The women are consistently the loudest ones laughing - and often the ones laughing the longest, too - and the fact that they can take it all in stride is commendable.
After some time, Merryfield rewards the women by letting them off the hook and he focuses his sites elsewhere: being a father (there's a great anecdote about his infant son peeing in his own face) and what it's like to tell a Nascar joke in Alabama.
But hey, we've come this far...why not end everything where it all started? Merryfield gets in a few last zingers at the ladies' expense before he's done for the evening and, again, the crowd is with him the entire time. Sure, Merryfield can be a bit of a misogynist at times. Other times, he is straight up sexist. But without a doubt, the one thing he is throughout the duration of Cupcakes is funny.
And in the end, no one can take offense to that.