New Orleans' burgeoning comedy scene has expanded in the past few years, and this week two well-known comics perform at the AllWays Lounge. Joe DeRosa (Better Call Saul, Inside Amy Schumer and Comedy Central) takes the stage Tuesday and Billy Wayne Davis (Last Comic Standing, WTF With Marc Maron) appears Saturday.
The local comedy scene already is thriving, with Saturday's Local Uproar showcase at the AllWays Lounge drawing capacity crowds and attendance growing at Thursday's Night Church at Sidney's Saloon, two shows co-hosted by Paul Oswell and Benjamin Hoffman.
Oswell says he's watched open-mic nights in New Orleans evolve into local comedy showcases.
"There are older, quite well-established comedy shows in New Orleans," he says. "I hope we've added to (the comedy scene) in some way. There wasn't a big weekend show when we started."
The showcases Oswell and Hoffman co-host give local comedians more stages where they can ply their jokes. Still, there's so much entertainment in New Orleans, much of it free, that comedy must compete for audiences' attention.
"Marketing the comedy nights is a full-time job," Oswell says, adding that every few months he books a nationally recognized comic — or two — such as DeRosa and Davis.
DeRosa's and Davis' styles contrast dramatically. A native of the Philadelphia area, DeRosa takes a lively, provocative approach. Davis, from Crossville, Tennessee, weaves his Southern humor into storytelling.
DeRosa performs in New Orleans about once a year and has old friends here. When he's in town, his must-do list includes savoring the local staple, po-boys.
A sandwich fan in general, DeRosa samples regional sandwiches wherever he travels. His sandwich fixation began with Philadelphia's signature hoagie.
"Tried and true, traditional Italian hoagies are hard to come by," DeRosa says. "People say, 'They have hoagies in New York.' They don't.
"New York heroes and subs have a different vibe than a hoagie from Philly. It takes a certain kind of meat, sliced in a certain way. The bread is crucial. Specific ingredients come together in the right way and that creates a unique sandwich experience."
Working as a sandwich critic would be a dream job for DeRosa — if he didn't already have his dream job as a comedian.
"Touring and playing great cities and meeting great people and expressing myself on stage, it's a dream come true," he says. "I'm not a religious person, but I do feel blessed."
DeRosa was a hoagie-eating 12-year-old in the Philadelphia borough of Collegeville when he first saw George Carlin, his biggest comedy inspiration. Carlin's 1990 HBO special, Doin' It Again, blew his young mind.
"When I saw Carlin, I knew I wanted to do this one day," DeRosa says. "He was older than my parents, but he said things that were more abrasive and daring than anything I could think of as a kid. It was pretty excellent. That was it for me."
DeRosa and Carlin spoke once by phone.
"He gave me a lot of great advice in a short time," DeRosa says. "We never met face-to-face, which is a bummer — but also kind of not. I had some interaction with him, but he still exists in that mystical place in my head. Sometimes, if you meet somebody, it takes the magic away.