Through a dark alleyway and an eclectic garden, a large starry night mural adorns the Revolution Bar and Cafe in Downtown Bryan where each Tuesday, comedians take the stage for a comedy show.
This week’s regular comedy show at the Revolution Bar was a riff session, meaning there was no planned material. Each comedian was accompanied on stage by the host and spurred by the audience’s comments. Thanks to the host, Alex Encinia, the comedy scene in the area has grown from one show a week to around seven shows a month since last May.
There will also be a special show on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 10 p.m. to midnight at the Elks Lodge in Bryan. There will also be a $5 donation for entry and a raffle, with all proceeds benefiting the Texas Elks Camp for special needs and foster children. To find more information about this show and other shows, visit the Brazos Valley Comedy Facebook page.
“We’re all excited for it,” Encinia said. “It's the first show that's like this we have done, so everybody's kinda drinking a little bit more, and we're gonna try to just get goofy.”
In addition to his own comedy routines, Encinia produces and hosts different shows for Brazos Valley Comedy and Rogue Comedy. Encinia also makes flyers and promotional material for these events.
“It's been really cool seeing it come from losing money and literally nobody in a crowd to I don't have to worry if there’s a crowd on Wednesdays anymore,” Encinia said.
Every Wednesday at 8 p.m., there’s a traditional stand up show at 5 Knocks Speakeasy in Downtown Bryan. On most Tuesdays, there is open mic comedy at Revolution Bar and Cafe. Encinia says since mid-May, open mic has grown from five comedians to having several regulars that get up and perform.
“From the open mics, I book other shows from that, so if you come to the open mic and you do good, I try to expand you to other shows,” Encinia said.
Travis Nathan Ray, one of the regular performers, said Alex has created the comedy scene in the Bryan-College Station area. The artist draws experience from his life and everything he observes around him.
“They say comedy is the only profession where you use everything that you've learned on stage,” Nathan Ray said. “We grab a microphone, and we try to engage with people as much as possible.”
After serving in the military, Nathan Ray discovered his interest in comedy while in school. He is excited about the new opportunities to perform and explore his passion.
“Comedy is the only profession where you get instantaneous feedback,” Nathan Ray said. “If you don't say something funny, you'll know immediately. Every comedy show is a direct connection with the crowd. They’re not just listening, they have to actively participate.”
Comedian Lee Cross grew up in College Station and has been on the comedy scene for almost 10 years. He learned how to present himself on stage through theatre classes in high school and working with a theatre company in Bryan. Cross said his first inspiration to do stand up was watching comedians perform at an open mic night while on a cruise.
“A year later, I heard there was an open mic going on at O'Bannon's on Northgate, so I went out,” Cross said. “The minute I got out on stage, I was totally comfortable, and as soon as I got in front of the mic it was totally natural, and that's where I got hooked.”
Cross acts as a mentor to newcomers and loves helping others get comfortable on the stage. He often helps people convert their ideas from funny jokes to a true stage performance.
“It's never too late, that's the best part about stand up comedy: there is no age restriction,” Cross said. “We tell a lot of people just come up and do it. You might have stage fright. We can help you get over it. Anyone can get up there.”