Everyone Dies The First Time They Go On Stage: Reviewing ‘Knock ‘Em Dead’ #1

by Brendan M. Allen

‘Sometimes you kill. Sometimes you get killed. But no matter what, everyone dies the first time they go on stage.

Pryor Brice has always wanted to be funny. And now, he’s taken the plunge and started doing stand-up comedy. Unfortunately, his older sister – Ronan – wants her brother to stop daydream-ing and focus on his future.

Pryor is determined to succeed…the only problem is: He totally sucks at stand-up. That is…until an accident changes everything, leading both Pryor and Ronan to discover comedy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

Knock ‘Em Dead  is a supernatural horror about comedy, brought to you by writer Eliot Rahal and artist Mattia Monaco.’

Stand-up comedy is a funny business. Er, a strange business. Everyone sucks at it when they start out. Even the folks who have been naturally funny their entire lives. Making the boys laugh in your living room is completely different than making a hundred strangers laugh in the club. 

First sets are brutal. It takes a long time and a lot of work learning how to read a room and work it. Even seasoned comedians, the ones you see on their own specials, spent hours and days and months working out each of the bits you’ll see on that HBO special in shitty little dives with a two drink minimum. 

In Knock ‘Em Dead #1, Eliot Rahal takes that process and lays it all out in its excruciating glory. Rahal has seen his share of tight fives, and his experience as a stand-up comedian comes through in Pryor’s development. The kid is awkward, and badly damaged. Those are two elements that tend to make some of the best comedy. He just doesn’t really understand how to leverage those elements into a successful career. Yet.

Mattia Monaco and Matt Milla absolutely destroy the art in this joint. I especially love the scenes in the club. There’s one montage where Pryor is trying out the same joke, six times, in six different clubs, and you can see the changes in posture, the differences in timing, in expression. The punchline is the same, but the process is beautifully, agonizingly laid out, without a word of dialogue.

Knock ‘Em Dead #1 is a solid opener. The pacing is great. The big pop doesn’t come around until the very last sequence, but there is so much going on in the pages leading up to that life-shattering event. By the end of this chapter, I was fully invested in Prior’s story, and I am eager to see where we’re headed next.

Knock ‘Em Dead #1, Aftershock Comics, 02 December 2020.Written by Eliot Rahal, art by Mattia Monaco, color by Matt Milla, and letters by Taylor Esposito


Sometimes you kill. Sometimes you get killed. But no matter what, everyone dies the first time they go on stage.

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