"I've heard all the jokes, and I understand," he says during a gig at the Meadowlark. "I get it, I'm pretty short.... Did someone just say 'Aww'? You know, I have a job, I feed myself, I drive a car. I'm doing all right. But I'll admit, if I witnessed some of the things I go through in the third person, I'd laugh at it, too. Any job I've had that required me to wear a uniform, it looked like I was going trick-or-treating. My feet have fallen asleep while I'm trying to take a shit because they don't touch the ground."
But today Charpentier is not performing standup. Today he is an actor making a comedic short film with the Nix Brothers for the 48 Hour Film Project. The team has been assigned a genre (romance), a character (Aunt Vanna), a prop (apples) and a piece of dialogue ("Why don't you do it?"), and has two days to write, film and edit a story. A handful of other local comedians are helping out with small roles and as extras, with Charpentier and Rand as the central characters stuck in a hate-filled office romance. Sexy Pizza, which sponsors many comedy events in town, is providing lunch. The atmosphere is very casual, but since most of these comedians perform almost every night of the week, they can switch on their funny faculties at a moment's notice.
"I have friends who don't do comedy, and they're great, but I don't understand that lifestyle anymore," Charpentier says, taking a break from shooting to step outside and get high. "I don't relate to not performing every night. Why would you not want to get on stage and bring out a thought you had earlier that day and find out if people like it, immediately?"
Charpentier began performing standup around the same time that Lund and Crane began showing up at the Squire every Tuesday night. But the freshman, straight-outta-Broomfield comic was far too timid for the inquisition-like atmosphere of that particular open mic. "The Squire was super-scary," he remembers. "I didn't know anybody there, and I didn't like Greg Baumhauer being a dick to everybody. I get it now, more than I did then. But I was just so scared; I still get nervous before I go on stage."
Still eager to get some stage time, Charpentier would head to the now-defunct Club 404's open mic. That's where he met Tallent, who had been a mic-rat-about-town for a year by that time. The two bonded over their backgrounds in improv comedy, which Charpentier had found was a helpful resource for getting over his insecurities when facing a crowd of strangers.
"In time, you learn how to use the nervousness to propel you instead of holding you back. And that's the difference between people who want to be on stage and people who need to be on stage," he says. "I used to get nervous days before I'd perform, then it would be all day, then noon that day. And now it might be when I get to the venue or before I go on. I get a tight stomach and feel like I have to pee twenty times."
Marijuana has been a faithful ally for calming Charpentier down before a show. But while today pot and cigarettes are, for the most part, his only vices (he occasionally drinks and very rarely takes other psychotropics), when he was a teenager, his drug use had reached gonzo levels, leaving him in a state of constant mindlessness. This led his parents to enroll him in Cornerstone Drug Abuse Program in Westminster, overseen by controversial rehab figure Bob Meehan.
Meehan was the subject of several investigations over the last three decades, his tactics compared to cultish indoctrinations that teach patients to despise outsiders. First gaining national recognition for treating comedian Carol Burnett's daughter in 1979, Meehan would go on to be one of the most recognized, and notorious, icons of the sobriety business, opening several clinics and training disciples who have gone on to open their own practices. While Charpentier was in Cornerstone's outpatient program, from the age of 16 to 21, he was kept on a tight schedule, mostly going home only to sleep.
During his stint in rehab, Charpentier discovered his love of the stage, putting on comedy shows for the rest of the 150-plus patients. "There was a lot of wasted time in there," he adds. "Mostly I just smoked cigarettes, drank coffee and learned how to breakdance." Once out of the program, though, he quickly returned to smoking pot.