I have yet to encounter a more impressive answer to “What did you do this weekend?” than the four words “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction.” It is the perfect mix of scandalous and bizarre, with a “Wait, what?” aftertaste. Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction is a traveling comedy show and popular Nerdist podcast hosted by Bryan Cook, which comes to Union Hall in Park Slope every three months. The rest of the time it tours the country, inspiring shameful, disgusted fits of uncontrollable laughter over sentences like “And then it unfurled—John Mayer’s second dick!” and “Name one ox who isn’t a huge lesbo.”
The Sunday-night competitive erotic fan fiction crowd does not look like the sort who be interested in erotic fan fiction. Or, I don’t think they do. Except of course they are—we are—because we have all turned up to hear, and vote on the merits of, erotic fan fiction. And we are all super excited.
The way the show works is one set of comedians come prepared, each with a pre-written piece of erotic fan fiction on a topic of their choosing. A second set of comedians come unprepared but willing, to be assigned a topic by audience suggestion for the erotic fan fiction they will write in thirty or so minutes, while the first set of comedians reads. The comedians participating this time were Mike Drucker, Michelle Wolf, Dave Hill, Mehran Khaghani, Eli Sairs, Alex Koll, Lynn Bixenspan, Andrew Short, and Bryan Cook himself. Each audience member submits a suggestion via an index card tossed into a bag and drawn from. The comedians can either select the first topic Bryan pulls from the bag of suggestions, or request a second option and let the audience choose between the two. No one took the first option.
The four audience suggestions on the night I went were Multiplicity, the 1996 movie starring Michael Keaton and Andie MacDowell; Paul Bunyan; Dr. Oz; and the HGTV show Property Brothers—which, in the interest of full disclosure, was my suggestion. Dave Hill tried to beg off because he’d never seen or heard of the show, but the competing suggestion was President William Howard Taft, and the audience had spoken. The four prepared pieces riffed on Revenge of the Nerds, the friendship between Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift, and The Wonder Years, which I hope is the last time I’ll ever hear the words “quivering fart-slot.”
As with any great comedy show, there’s a “you had to be there” quality to everything about it, which is why the phrase “gentrify this dick” isn’t funny now, but had all of us in tears on Sunday. Thankfully, even graciously, because the show is a podcast, every show is made available on iTunes for free (though it takes a while). If you find a show happening anywhere even a little near you, don’t miss the chance to go. Bring your least offendable friend.
Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.