Posts tagged as local scenes

Can a Mid-Sized City's Thriving Comedy Scene Survive the LA Exodus?

Grawlix's Adam Cayton-Holland (Photo by Ryan Brackin)

If you’re a mid-level comic with a few credits under your belt, at some point you’ve probably been asked the question: “So, when are you moving to LA?” The person asking was likely from Los Angeles, and didn’t ask in the neutral tone of a guidance counselor “have you thought about moving to LA?” It’s always when are you moving. For many in this business, your hometown comedy scene is viewed as the high school of your career, with road-gigs and festivals as your bachelors degree — followed by the inevitable move to Hollywood to begin your masters.

And just as every comic [...]

The Premiere Before the World Premiere: Red Hot Video Fun Time

In a small Mexican restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Drew Luster waits on his tacos. Things have settled at the Bat Haus, a small event space two doors over, and Luster takes advantage of the calm to grab dinner. In a half hour, his sketch team, the Otter Boys, will kick off Red Hot Video Fun Time, a quasi-bimonthly video showcase featuring never-before-seen sketches by members of New York’s comedy community.

“If I’m here, we’re good to go,” Luster says. There are some minor complications. Two sketch groups drop out of the showcase, forcing a rearrangement the night’s lineup. Their beer sponsor also withdraws at the last moment, but the team [...]

Inside 'The [206]', the Most Popular Local TV Comedy in America

The seeds of the most popular local TV comedy in the country were planted 25 years ago, outside a Seattle restaurant when two strangers walked up to Chris Cashman’s dad, Pat, and thanked him for his work on Almost Live, a local sketch comedy show similar to Saturday Night Live.

“They didn't even know him,” Chris, now 36, recalls. "That was the neatest thing I'd ever heard of, and I thought, if I could just do that some day…”

But Almost Live was cancelled in 1999, just as Chris became old enough to join it. The show didn’t generate enough profits for the Texas company that bought the station and the [...]

Discovering the Comedic Melting Pot in the Heart of Berlin

After watching three German comics perform odd character bits with no punchlines, Alex Upatov didn't have high hopes for the Berlin standup comedy scene. He'd popped into the open mic a year and a half ago. He was visiting Berlin from his home in Hanover, where comedy was even less popular. No one seemed to share his passion for the American standup videos he'd been watching online since he was a teenager. So when he noticed the show's host had a Louis CK t-shirt on, Upatov got excited.

"I just thought, 'I've got to talk to this guy,'" Upatov said. Within minutes, the host was driving Upatov to a [...]

Building a Comedy Scene in Austin with Sure Thing

Popular Austin, Texas standup showcase, Sure Thing, packs the back-porch of the Austin Java coffeehouse every Saturday night, even in the January cold. I'd been warned that it filled up quickly after doors opened, but I hardly took that seriously. So when I arrived still a good 15 minutes before the show, I was surprised to find my saved seat was the only one left, with chair vultures circling ominously. Once I saw the show, it was understandable. Sure Thing delivers on its name, with terrific Austin comics like Casey Crawford, Katie Stone, and that night’s headliner, Brian Gutmann.

In recent years Austin’s comedy scene has absolutely exploded. It [...]

Talking About the End of Chicago's Upstairs Gallery

The Upstairs Gallery started in September of 2010 as a small performance space in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. It is now one of the city’s best known comedy theaters. After four years of putting up some of the most exciting and experimental theater in Chicago, it is closing at the end of this month. The Gallery is operated by Alex Honnet, Caitlin Stephan and Walt Delaney. I spoke with Alex and Caitlin about the Gallery’s shift from “performance space” to “comedy theater”, as well as the upcoming second installment of their independent comedy festival, A Jangleheart Circus.

Washington DC Is Building Itself an Awesome Indie Comedy Scene

The Washington Post has an intriguing look at the growing indie comedy scene in Washington D.C., a city that for a long time had little more than a couple of clubs and The Capitol Steps. In the past few years, local comics have taken a page from other blossoming comedy cities like Austin, Denver, and Vancouver, setting up independent shows at bars and rock clubs to give time to rising comics who are moving past the city's open mics.

Despite it's smaller scene, D.C. has a solid history of producing good comics, with Dave Chappelle, Patton Oswalt and Wanda Sykes all starting out there decades ago, and rising [...]

Saying Goodnight to Chicago's 'Late Live Show'

Sad news from the Windy City: after three years and more than 50 performances, one of live comedy's most interesting experiments is coming to an end. This Saturday, The Late Live Show will have its final performance.

For those of you who missed our profile of the show last year, here's the basic idea: A bunch of comedy nerds who grew up watching late-night shows decided they wanted one of their own, but knew they would never be able to get it on television, so they just started doing it as a live show in Chi-town venues. We're talking opening monologues, desk bits, interviews — the whole kit and caboodle. It [...]

How the New Movement Built a Comedy Scene from Scratch in New Orleans

The MC yells, “Please, sound like a million people for…!” and sweeps his arm as he announces the name of the improv group taking over the stage. This exhortation a familiar one to regular visitors to The New Movement Theater, a major player in the ongoing development of New Orleans’ comedy scene. Just that little tweak from the traditional  “Give it up for…” or “Please welcome…” affects audiences’ expectations, whether there are ten people seated or a full house. People respond to it and cheer like a multitude.

Tami Nelson and Chris Trew, the founders of The New Movement (TNM), have shaped their brand by challenging the expectations of what [...]

How the Legal Marijuana Industry Is Helping Grow Denver's Comedy Scene

Comedians like Doug Benson and Stephen Colbert have been getting a lot of joke-mileage out of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana last January. Though after Maureen Dowd wrote about being “curled up in a hallucinatory state for eight hours” in a Denver hotel room after carelessly ingesting too much edible cannabis, Bill Maher editorialized that Colorado “must realize that they are the Jackie Robinson of marijuana legislation,” and that residents “have to get this right, or else you’ll ruin it for everybody.”

The definition of what “getting this right” means is being played out in the Denver comedy scene, where marijuana has become more than just a cultural glue between comics [...]

Splitsider's Guide to Vancouver's Comedy Scene

Live comedy, for many, is an art form that is still confined to two major centers: New York and Los Angeles. Other cities — Chicago, Boston, Toronto, San Francisco, Austin, Montreal, Seattle, and Denver — are often unfairly relegated to the periphery. They represent thriving scenes that matter because they exist, but aside from that are generally ignored and rarely scouted.

If the latter cities make up the periphery of the comedy scene, then it would be fair to say that Vancouver, British Columbia — tucked far away in the Pacific Northwest, three hours from Seattle, six hours from Portland, and too many hours from anywhere else — lies in [...]

Looking for Comedy in Nashville

“One time I took the whole crowd out to the parking lot to have a fire-breathing contest with a guy dressed like Jesus. So it was more of a variety show, I guess. It was a friggin' mess. So I…”

A piercing whaddup explodes towards the bar. It's the last Wednesday of the month at Springwater Supper Club & Lounge, Nashville's most revered/reviled dive bar, located on the edge of Centennial Park equidistant from the Piggly Wiggly and the city's scale model of the Parthenon. Craig Smith is tending bar and telling tales of the Nashville's turn-of-the-century comedy scene when he 's interrupted by the the shrill decrescendo of [...]