I’ve been following Ben’s work since he first started doing stand-up. Seriously. As someone who frequents open-mics, I think I was in the audience as far back as his first time onstage. I don’t follow the local stand-up scene closely, although I do have some awareness of it; and he stood out immediately as an appealing, self-deprecating newcomer with an unusually cerebral streak. While his material was golden from the get-go, his stage presence could be stiff and off-putting.
Three years have passed, and while in this show his tics haven’t vanished — he still mumbles, he’s still furtive — he’s now taken those liabilities and turned them into assets. His persona is relaxed and polished, and the night I was there he shone.
Of course, that may not be a fair assessment — it was a sold-out house, and it’s hard not to give a great performance with an audience like that. Not that you’ll likely find out otherwise, since he’s sold out his first two performances, including a Monday night slot(!).
His material’s as strong as it ever was — indeed, much of it is maintained from previous shows, albeit tightened up considerably. The difference now is that he’s developed a sufficiently approachable stage presence that everyone can reach that material. It was one hell of an hour of entertainment, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with him.