Judging from the pre-show chatter, most of the Charlestonians walking into the early comedy show at Woolfe Street Playhouse were rolling the dice a bit. A double bill featuring Lenny Marcus and Carmen Lynch, it featured two established NYC comedians who were clearly unknown quantities to many in the audience. More than one person in line at the bar could be overheard admitting they had come because they wanted to
see some standup, but had no familiarity with either comedian’s work. By the end of the show, however, it’s fair to say most of us left as fans.

Lenny Marcus got things started, and it was obvious from the first bit that the man on stage was a pro. He does what he promises to do: he tells jokes, he tells them fast, and most of are concerned primarily with things about other people that annoy him.

Marcus worked a fair amount of city-specific material into the set — Charleston International Airport seemed to be of great interest to him — and even the material recognizable from his most recent Letterman appearance had been tweaked for the evening’s performance, offering something new to everyone. He quickly established a strong rapport with the audience, pitting sections of the room against one another and creating an atmosphere where everyone felt like an active participant in the show.

Carmen Lynch hit the stage to a warm introduction from Marcus; the two share stages on the NYC club circuit, as well as a great deal of mutual respect. Her presence was in marked contrast to his, as her bits were delivered in a spacey, stream-of-consciousness style, as if each thought was occurring to her as she went. Some of the jokes that got the biggest laughs were the ones that trailed off, the punchlines only revealing themselves after the fact, once the audience realized they’d missed them. Her material focused largely on personal experiences, from awkward sex to awkward yoga, and the audience was only too happy to laugh along.

After the last joke had been told and the crowd started to thin out, those who remained behind to finish drinks or wait on a friend discussed favorite punchlines or stories. People were still laughing, recalling Marcus’ pet condolence cards or Lynch’s mid-coitus run-in with a ceiling fan.

The duo is appearing at Woolfe Street Playhouse again tonight at 8 p.m.; if you’re a fan of stand up comedy and haven’t seen them yet, it’s well worth the $15.