DELRAY BEACH – Steve Miller couldn’t be more elated to be back in the pit.
Still fueled by the endorphins – accompanied by some bourbon – injected by Wednesday’s highly successful Turtle Tavern comedy show, Miller equated the night’s energy to the punk rock shows he attended decades ago.
“These moments, it’s like you are one with the crowd,” Miller said. “They’re not sitting there watching you. You are having a moment together. You are vibing off of what they are doing. For me that’s very honest. I missed that tremendously.”
The 46-year-old Miller knows a good show when he experiences one. The 13-year veteran’s career appeared to be taking off before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of national gigs.
Like many comedians, he made do with outdoor shows, drive-in performances and – egad! – Zoom shows while waiting for the pandemic to pass.
Miller dreams of becoming big enough to fill stadiums, yet he still craves the energy of more intimate shows.
“Sometimes you are like, Why do I do comedy?” Miller said. “And then you have a show like this where it’s, like, 75-100 people and they just vibe with you the whole time. And you’re like, that’s right, this is why.”
Delray Beach’s Turtle Tavern has plenty in common with the punk rock venues of Miller’s youth. There’s no stage, leaving the performer at eye level with the audience. It’s dark, with a lone spotlight illuminating the action. And some of the audience is close enough to almost reach out and touch the mic.
But while the show packed plenty of energy, it lacked the chaos of a punk rock set. Mostly in their 30s or older, the crowd remained attentive and respectful throughout, interacting with Miller only when requested.
That allowed Miller to easily weave his relatable tales about being a step-father, partying, and a dislike social media’s current divisiveness.
“The crowd was brilliant,” Miller said. “Every idea that I went with they went along with me.”
That receptivity held for all the night’s comics.
In a tune up for next week’s headlining show at the Palm Beach Improv, feature comic Nadeem Awad debuted some new material, doing so in an even more of a relaxed, conversational tone than he’s known for.
Vital DieuJuste couldn’t stop smiling following his first Turtle appearance. The Turtle continues to embrace local patron Roger Berry during his brief sets. And if the post-show activity at the merch table was any indication, producer/host David Sadman couldn’t have hoped for more.
“I can’t ask for a better show,” said Miller, some 30 minutes after his final punchline. “I’m really sort of glowing right now. I’m hyped right now.”
Based in Tampa, Miller remains in South Florida for one more show. The lineup for Thursday, Nov. 4 at the Biergarten in Boca Raton once again includes Awad and Sadman. Ryan Scott replaces Dieujuste as the co-feature.
“I’m super excited for (Thursday),” Miller said. “If it’s half as good as this show was, it will be two times as good as I deserve.”