Comedy in Multifamily: How Alderman Keeps Residents Laughing
Kevin Alderman remembers that first open mic night in 2007 at a tiny, smoky bar in Charlotte before a small, tough-looking crowd. He’d gone there to work up the nerve to try out some of jokes he’d been kicking around. His heart pounded and knees shook when the bar’s big, intimidating manager told Alderman if he thought he was a comedian he’d best grab the mic … now.
“I’m like, yessir,” recalled Alderman, who bills himself as a middle-aged everyman comedian who talks about everyday life.
“I got into a fight the other day,” he opened. “I’m lying on the ground with a broken nose and a cracked rib thinking to myself, why did I marry this woman?!”
The dozen or so roughnecks howled. As he went deeper into his act, the crowd stirred and shouted encouragement. He left feeling pretty good. Alderman, at 40, later sold his window cleaning business to his ex-wife, and set off to achieve a lifelong dream of being a comedian.
“It was such huge, positive response,” he said by phone from his Charlotte apartment. “I was like, this is what I want to do this the rest of my life.’ ”
Alderman has devoted himself to comedy and earned a spot next to some of the business’s funniest performers. He’s opened for standups Tommy Davidson of In Living Color and Aries Spears of Mad TV, and has an eye on moving to the Big Apple or Los Angeles to take his act to the next level.
Since his first gig two years ago with the Plantation Park Apartments in Charlotte, also his home, Alderman has played a number of multifamily rooms in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greenville, South Carolina. He’s branching out and has a show in April booked for Katy, Texas, plus working on shows in Colorado, Arizona, Florida and Washington.
Apartment clubhouses become a stage for funny man
Amid playing packed comedy clubs and brushes with greatness, Alderman is honing his craft at much smaller venues and offering apartment residents a hilarious amenity. Alderman formed The Comedy Cartel and has become an approved vendor for a handful of properties.
He first tried playing country clubs on his Midlifers Stand Up Tour and liked the idea of having a captive audience of members. Apartment communities would be a natural fit, he thought.
“It’s a win for the resident,” Alderman said. “All they got to do is walk to clubhouse, they get free food, free drinks and free comedy show and they walk back home.”
Before the show, he blends with residents who walk over from their apartments to swill beer or wine and eat pizza. For about an hour, he performs his brand of stand-up. And takes handshakes and compliments from the crowd before going home.
Making fun of everyday life without getting edgy
Alderman says his comedy is rated PG-13 to ensure that nobody gets offended. He pokes fun at everyday life without getting dirty.
The comedian has edgier material, but he says that apartment clubhouses aren’t the place for that type of humor. “They were kind of asking for it, but at apartments I want to play it safe,” he said.
At a show in Raleigh, Alderman lamented about how bad his credit had become. However, it wasn’t his fault. “Everywhere you go someone is trying to get you to sign up for the credit card,” he told the crowd. “I was out shopping last weekend and, sure enough, a woman asked me if I wanted to save 10 percent by applying for their credit card. I was like, uh, I’m at a yard sale!”
Getting to know residents before the performance and chatting with management helps him prepare for the right presentation. He has material for younger and older audiences.
Alderman tests the waters by mingling with the crowd before shows
During the first hour, Alderman hangs out with residents and cuts up a bit to gauge how he thinks the room will play. “I’m not making myself known, but I’m just talking with people and laughing, kind of getting the feel of people there,” he said. “So I’ll take that information, my interactions, and I’ll use it to help me judge where I’m going to go with my material. And it’s also talking with the property management team as well.”
So far, Alderman said, he’s kept apartments laughing and has yet to bomb. Because it’s so unique, he gets more positive feedback from residents and staff.
It’s all business in getting residents to laugh
He takes a business-like approach to his work and is trying to build a clientele in much the same manner as he did when washing windows at upscale homes in Charlotte. At Plantation Park, he worked with management to put on a show at the smaller of two common areas at the community.
The results were better than he expected when a crowd of about 30 filled seats and others peered in from the doorway. He needled the apartment staff a little and residents laughed.
He’s since had return engagements and performed for as many as 50 at some communities. But he’s comfortable around a crowd of any size.
“I learned a long time ago, when I’m doing my shows, if there are very few people in the audience, I just have a conversation with them,” Alderman said. “It’s like you and I are hanging out in the bar drinking, cracking jokes and having a good time.”
It’s that approach which enables him to stand out from other funny men.
“Some comedians are lazy,” he said with a laugh. “They want the work to come to them. I have to go find my work.”
(Image Sources: Shutterstock and Kevin Alderman)