Liss Victory and Krish Mohan have different criteria for successful shows during a tour. Victory, a singer-songwriter who performs solo and with her band Victory at the Crossroads, confesses to more capitalistic parameters: money made, audience size, merchandise sales. Performance is important but “as far as I’m concerned, every performance should be great,” she says.
Mohan, a comic, focuses more on his performance: whether he hit the material right, especially newer bits; whether the audience pays attention; and, significantly, whether people want to talk to him after the show. “If you didn’t do well, people are not going to make eye contact with you because they don’t want to deal with that level of discomfort,” he says.
When comedy and music are presented in the same evening, things can get more complicated. This happened during a 2016 tour that landed the couple in Fort Wayne, Indiana at a music space that had never hosted comedy. “They were really excited that comedy was going to be there,” Victory says. “It was one of our most successful shows. But it was so strange.”
“It was not one of our most fun shows,” Mohan adds. During both of their sets, the audience seemed like a typical bar crowd, indifferent to the performers and more interested in talking to their friends. However, a throng of people rushed the merch table afterwards.
Music and comedy have been interlinked for generations. But Victory and Mohan see the pairing as more than just jokes to keep the audience interested engaged between bands. They put all the performers on equal ground. “When you do this kind of show, there is a theatrical element to it,” Mohan explains. “It’s going to be an experience, not just another run-of-the-mill show. Everything is kind of curated.”
The couple, who exchanged wedding vows last October, embarked on their TransContinental Tour earlier in the year. For four months, they performed together in venues ranging from DIY spaces and black box theaters to art galleries and bars. They booked and promoted the whole jaunt by themselves too.
Through trial and error they saw where the format worked best. “Comics will go into bars and expect nobody to care. But people that come out to see music shows in listening rooms give a shit more. It’s not dinner entertainment. It’s the entertainment,” Mohan says. “For a comic to be in that room, have a musician open and then go up afterwards, the crowd is already engaged pretty heavily into what’s being said and played. So your jokes hit differently. And they probably hit more honestly.”
The Victory Variety Review, which celebrates Victory’s birthday this weekend, follows the template they solidified through their travels. Comedians Vincent Didiano and Liz Tripoli perform between musical sets by Don Strange (of Strange Monsters) and Victory at the Crossroads. Brian Crawford, of River’s Edge Radio Network, serves as host. It also retains another rarity at live music shows – punctuality.
VICTORY VARIETY REVIEW. 7 p.m. Saturday, January 12. Hambone’s, 4207 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $5-$15. 412-681-4318. ACOUSTICAFE Hosted by Liss Victory & Krish Mohan. 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14. The Funhouse at Mr. Small’s, 400 Lincoln Ave, Millvale. Free. www.mrsmalls.com
“When you go to [a comedy] club and it says the show starts at 7 p.m., it starts at 7 p.m.! It’s not like a rock show where you have three to five bands and it’s going to start somewhere around 9 p.m. It’s much more structured,” Victory says.
Mohan has scheduled a similar bill for the recording of his live CD at the Funhouse at Mr. Smalls on February 1. But before that happens, the couple will host that venue’s AcoustiCafe on Monday, January 14. Both played that long-standing open stage event over the years, and Mohan notes that it helped him shape his material. “Being in the music world is how I got better,” he says.