Going into Joe Sib’s one-man show, California Calling, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Various reviews of the show online had it pegged as everything from humorous storytelling, to loose-format spoken word, to straight-up stand-up. And, like a real entertainer, Sib gave a show that was everything and then some.

Rendezvous
Seattle, WA
2011 – 03/31

Filling up JewelBox Theater in the Seattle institution, Rendezvous, Sib went on an hour-plus tear of recalling the day that he discovered punk rock. But let’s not start there.

Eric Lincoln Hurst

The show itself opened up with East Coaster and Seattle Transplant, Eric Lincoln Hurst, a comedian who tells jokes sans gimmick, which tends to be a rarity these days, let alone in Seattle. Hurst’s no-nonsense approach is every bit of Eddie Murphy, Dice Clay or Sam Kinison, and doesn’t shamelessly try to ape Patton Oswalt or Eugene Mirman, something that seems to happen in Seattle (and in the comedy scene in general) more times than not.

Hurst was also a good match for Sib, who, while not a comedian by trade, still brought hilarious and poignant stories to the table.

Joe Sib

Backed by a slideshow of several photos from his past, Sib goes into extreme detail of his Northern California upbringing, touching on his parents’ divorce, his Italian heritage, his introduction to punk rock, and his time fronting Wax and co-founding SideOneDummy Records (home to The Gaslight Anthem and Broadway Calls, among others).

What I found particularly unique about Sib’s show is how entertaining it was. Usually, the old punx speaking tours can be somewhat of a downer, whether it’s Henry Rollins (who usually has good stories, mind you) talking about what a stupid idiot you are to your face, or Jello Biafra explaining the downsides of American foreign politics. Because Sib’s story is incredibly personal and well-executed (spoiler alert: there’s dancing and crowd participation involved), I found myself leaving the show feeling upbeat and with a huge smile in my face rather than with the desire to go smash the windows at Niketown.

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