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Comedy Done Right

I had a great time in Chattanooga, Tennessee this past weekend and I love that club.

vaudeville-cafeThe Vaudeville Cafe is beautiful and the audiences were smart. But that’s not the main reason I loved the club.  At the end of the weekend, the owner, Chris Hampton, came up to pay the performers.  The other guy was asking if the shows were fine or if they were too dirty or anything.  Chris responded with, “I don’t care about clean or dirty.  All I care about is funny.”  I think a choir of angels sing every time a comedian hears a club owner say those words.

There is another place for comedy in Chattanooga.  I don’t know anything about that place first hand, but from what I hear, it caters more to the more redneck kind of crowd.  Not judging.  That’s just their clientele.  When the Vaudeville Cafe isn’t hosting live stand up, they’re home to amazing dinner theatre and murder mysteries.  Their customers are more cultured or worldly.  That’s what Chris wants from his comedians…..funny and smart.

I’m writing this for two reasons.  The first, because after a rough couple nights of comedy where I wasn’t a good match, I was so grateful to be some place where the people “got it” and this is my way of saying thank you.  Secondly, because I hope someone googles “Chattanooga” and “comedy” and stumbles across this.  In my opinion the Vaudeville Cafe is the only smart choice for comedy in Chattanooga.  I hope it continues for a long, long time because I can’t wait to go back!

 

Lansing Connxtions: Week in Review

This past week I was performing at Lansing Connxtions with Danny Kallas from Chicago and Ian Mulvaney from Lansing.

I had a blast.   Connxtions is one of those clubs that gets so much right.  This may sound surprising to some of you, but there are a lot of clubs where the staff is just a sour group of gloomy Guses.   I think everyone who works at Lansing Connxtions works there because they love their job.  Most of that credit has to go to Tina who runs the place.  She’s a really good boss.  Having been a really good boss myself back when I was at Gamestop, you can tell when someone is leading well.

This is a gross example of why I can tell Tina is great, but it’s the best example.  Someone from the audience threw up Saturday night.  When that happens someone has to clean it.  That person ended up being more focused on who did it so they could direct their anger that way and never said anything along the lines of, “I can’t believe Tina is making me clean up vomit.  What a bitch.”   They party hard in Lansing, but only after they’ve worked hard.  It’s a really good staff.

Emceeing for me was Lansing’s own Ian “Mulva the Vulva” Mulvaney.  Ian did a great job.  He was really excited to do it.  My ego was totally stroked because there were a handful of Lansing guys who really wanted to work with me, but Ian asked first.  I performed with him a little while ago at a benefit show for a mutual friend who died.  I don’t know what I did that made it so Ian really wanted to do a set together, but I appreciated it a lot.  That’s so important too.  Something you say to someone that may seem totally insignificant could hit them totally different.  I’m glad I did or said something nice then because I had a really good time hanging out with Ian.  Together we looked like Earl and Randy from My Name is Earl.  I think we should go on the road doing dramatic readings of famous scenes from the show.

My feature was Danny Kallas from Chicago.  I loved working with Danny.  He and I had a similar sensibility that worked really well together.  We both had that “I’m going to take a lot of shots at a lot of things…including myself….so don’t get uptight” thing going on.  Danny and I have a mutual friend in one of his fellow Chicago comedy brothers from the Comedians You Should Know.   Detroit really needs something like that.  I think the closest we came was having the Live Rude Girls, but a certain shitty lady finds a way to drive a wedge into any communal endeavor.  She tried to do the same thing years earlier with The Desperate Houseguys, so I know first hand.   Detroit really needs a group of like minded performers to form something.  The reason CYSK works well is because you know by going to one of there shows what kind of show you’re going to get regardless of which members are performing.  First of all, they’re all among the best in Chicago, but secondly they all approach comedy with a like minded point of view.   I feel like I’m not wording this very well.  If I go to one of there shows, and I’ve worked with four or five of them, I know I’m going to see a pretty smart guy in his late twenties or early thirties doing incredibly well written and dark material that doesn’t pull any punches.  I not going to see someone singing Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer or a juggler or a person wearing a thong on her face.

Here’s the other thing that makes CYSK successful.  Even if one person isn’t on one of the shows, they all promote the shows as a unit.  The CYSK twitter account was promoting Danny being in Lansing even though he was the only one from the group that was.  They’re also all strong and working comics.  CYSK has become a brand.  If one of them opens a door I think it becomes easier for the rest of them to go through that door because CYSK means quality.  I think the closest thing we had in Detroit was when three great comedians Adam Sokol, Nate Fridson and Matt McLowry started to do stuff together.  If they branded that union more and brought in more people that would have gone well with that group like Brad Austin for example it could have been the Detroit version of CYSK.

Unfortunately, Chicago, unlike Detroit is a destination city for comedians.  Detroit is a place where people start and then leave.  Three quarters of the Detroit guys I mentioned in that last paragraph aren’t even here anymore.

I got way side tracked, but to sum up, last weekend I worked at a great place with some great people in front of five great audiences.  Each audience was uniquely different.  Saturday alone had the fairly full audience of people who seemed generally tired so you had to work really hard to keep them with you and it also had the super large rowdy crowd that you had to work just as hard to keep them, but in a completely different way.  I had a blast!

Here’s an exclusive clip from the first show Saturday night that you can only see through OffTheMike!  Here I encourage the burly men in the audience to take their sexy back.

Main St. Billiards: Brad Austin’s Birthday Show

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The Painted Lady: May 5, 2011

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The Painted Lady: Open Mic.

Performers:

Lauren Uchalik as your shining MC
Scott Fischer
Mike Bobbitt
Ed Buehner
Marty Smith
Garri Madera
Chillian Thomas
Mike Evitts
Allyson Hood
Lee Smith
Jeffrey Conolly

Am I A Comedy Snob?

It was a light week for comedy last week, but a fun week.  On Wednesday I was at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase doing a benefit for my friend Germaine’s friend Shaun who unfortunately has a brain tumor.  The turnout was respectable, and we did raise some money and we had some laughs.  Germaine and I started at the exact same time and I’m always glad to do any show she asks me to do.   I got to see some old faces and tried to do material that was all pretty new and long form.  It didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I went to the club after a long day of filming on Deadpan and didn’t quite get where I needed to be mentally.

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