St. Louis Comedy Profile: Aaron Sawyer

Aaron Sawyer is the creator of Boondoggle, a bi-monthly sketch show that’s become a favorite in the St. Louis comedy scene. A special edition of Boondoggle runs tonight at 10:30 p.m. at The Improv Shop as part of Flyover Comedy Festival. We asked Aaron a few questions about the show.

What is Boondoggle?

Boondoggle is a bi-monthly sketch comedy show that is a combination of live sketch and video shorts interspersed with a running plot line. The gimmick, so to speak, is that every show is entirely written and produced by myself and one other St. Louis comedian, and who that is changes every time.

How long has it been a thing?

Two years.

When and where is it?

This Thursday at 10:30 on the Improv Shop Side Stage. As part of the Flyover Comedy Fest!

How much writing is involved in producing this show and is it all done yet?

A lot. Almost an overwhelming amount. It’s an hour of original comedy written every six weeks, on average, by just two people. Not to mention the filming, editing, set building, and prop work that goes into every show. It consumes you. And no, the writing is never done.

So far, what has been your favorite moment / sketch in the show’s history?

This is probably a cheat, but nothing’s been more satisfying to me than seeing the slow growth of the show over the past two years. There were seven people at the first show, and I knew every one of them. But we pull over triple that now (some of the strangers!), and that growth has been almost entirely by word of mouth, and in spite of the fact that I was one of this city’s worst stand-up comedians.

Is there anything different about the version of the show you’re putting up at the festival vs. your regularly bi-monthly show?

This will be the first show where I have repeated a co-host (Ben Johnson), as well as the first that is not entirely new material. The plot we’re doing is a rewritten version of what we did when he hosted last August, which was a favorite of mine, and that is being padded with new videos and revised sketches from past shows.

You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise crawling toward you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back.  The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that?

Sounds like I’m just a jerk.

When and where is the next Boondoggle after the festival?

January 30 th at the Heavy Anchor, with co-host Amy Milton!

From Behind The Curtain: Support Local Comedy

Note: Chris Cyr contributes the very minimum amount of work he can to help promote the St. Louis Comedy Scene on this site. While he’s performing at Flyover Comedy Festival, he is not a member of the organizing team. Opinions expressed below are his alone. He’s typing this disclosure in the third person because he’s convinced it makes it seem more official. The actual body of this post will be typed in the first person.

This week in The Grove, Flyover Comedy Festival will take over a number of venues, and for the third year in a row will give us three days of shows ranging from live podcast recordings to stand up showcases from a mixture of local and touring performers at various stages of their careers. Not only is the festival fun to attend, but each year the event’s organizers have created an experience that shows the public St. Louis has a comedy scene worth exploring further after the weekend has ended. It’s a great thing for us to have and I hope you support it. For only $45 you can purchase a wristband that gets you access to performances from Kyle Kinane, Sasheer Zamata, and somewhere near a hundred other performers. It’s a bargain.

I love this comedy scene. That’s not hyperbole. In just over six years since I became a part of it, I’ve seen St. Louis comics go on to bigger markets with great success. I’ve seen peers share the stage with some of the biggest names in comedy and hold their own. I’ve seen comics go from just another open mic performer to headlining that same club. And I’ve seen comics who, when faced with a limited number of options to get on stage each night, rolled up their sleeves and helped build a DIY scene with stages in coffee houses and bars that feature everything from the weird and fantastical to shows that could easily be dropped into any club in the country and leave an audience satisfied with how they spent their money.

I mostly see this scene through the lens of stand up, but there’s more to it than that. There’s a full service club dedicated to improv that has two stages of programming every weekend. There are sketch shows that produce hilarious content on non-existent budgets. There are shows that pop up each month that can’t be classified into any single category. If you want to laugh, St. Louis has something for you.

We can be better, I freely admit. I’m an old white guy and it’s easy for me to love a scene in an industry where people different from me have to deal with obstacles and prejudices I don’t. I’m not going to pretend these problems can be fixed by a paragraph or two in a post like this. I can only acknowledge those problems exist, and support the work of shows, performers, and bookers who actively expose audiences to a diverse range of performers (and looking at the roster of comics for this year’s Flyover, you can see the organizers are among such people).

We’re building something here. The work started decades ago and will continue long after many of the stages we stand on have turned to dust. Like the city itself, St. Louis Comedy is forever a work in progress, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

In an industry where bias leans towards performers from markets that benefit from the geographical immediacy of the gatekeepers of the biggest opportunities, comics from the middle of the country have to be willing to put in the work it takes to differentiate themselves. And I see examples of people who do that all over our scene. Whether you’re into the classic three comic format you see in a club, the “weird” stuff that happens in a Thursday night basement show, or any of the other different ways comedy can be experienced, I guarantee that if you give the St. Louis Comedy Scene a chance, you’ll see those examples too.

This week, Flyover Comedy Festival is a great place to start. Go see a show.

Or don’t. I’m not a cop.

-Chris Cyr

Flyover Comedy Festival Performer Profile: Matt Payton

We’re taking a minute to show you some of the great performers who’ll be walking the boards of the stages in The Grove for Flyover Comedy Festival.

Matt Payton has performed at comedy festivals such as the Out Of Bounds, Burbank and Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He has appeared on To Tell The Truth for ABC and his writing has been featured on Splitsider, The Weekly Humorist, Points In Case and McSweeney’s. He is from Missouri, but the other major metropolitan area that everyone over here is supposed to hate.

What are you looking forward to most at the festival this year?

Seeing my friends in the festival delight the crowds with their jokes, bringing my favorite jackets out of California retirement and watching my enemies get crushed (they know who they are).

When/where are you performing at the festival?

The Atomic Cowboy Saturday at 8PM. I’ll be espousing the wonderful benefits of Herbalife all the other times during the festival. You’ll want to avoid me at all costs.

Give us your social media information!

Twitter & Instagram: @paytonmatting Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012320412790&ref=bookmarks mattpayton.tumblr.com Also look for me on Slack making references to memes from 18 months ago and relating them back to the highlighters in the supply closet.

Would you rather be covered in spiders, or live in a world without tacos?

I would have to say tacos because then I would never know they existed, therefore would not know what I’m missing out on. But let’s say it’s a world without tacos starting now I’d still pick that one because I could throw the ingredients of a taco together in another form. And who wouldn’t like to eat carne asada, cilantro and onions in the shape of a swan?

Do you even lift?

I assume you’re talking about weights and if you’re trying to provoke me into some sort of fight just be warned I’m fully prepared to engage in a battle of wits with you, which I will also lose badly while still flailing about like a bird somehow.

If you have a pet project, something to promote, or anything you want share, tell us here.

If you’re ever in Los Angeles, come to the monthly show I co-produce called Funny How? It’s really well-run and the lineup is always great.

See Matt and and all of the other comics joining him at Flyover Comedy Festival, November 8 – November 10 in the Grove.  Wristbands for the entire festival are on sale now.  Buy yours today!

Flyover Comedy Festival Performer Profile: Aaron Naylor

We’re taking a minute to show you some of the great performers who’ll be walking the boards of the stages in The Grove for Flyover Comedy Festival.

Aaron Naylor is a stand-up comedian from Kansas City, MO. He won the 2014 Kansas City’s Local Comic Standing, the 2017 Funniest Person in Wichita Competition, placed 2nd in the 2016 Cleveland Comedy Festival, and has performed at SF Sketchfest, Blue Whale Comedy Festival, Cape Fear Comedy Festival, Trial by Laughter, and many other festivals. He has opened for real people who do this for a living.

What are you looking forward to most at the festival this year?

I love St. Louis and the comedians there, so I’m most excited to hang out with all of them and have some goofs

When/where are you performing at the festival?

I’m performing on Friday at The Monocle, and I’m on two shows at The Improv Shop on Saturday.

Give us your social media information!

My Twitter and Instagram is @iamaaronnaylor. My Facebook is my name, hopefully.

Would you rather be covered in spiders, or live in a world without tacos?

I’d rather be covered in spiders because a lot of people like tacos and if I had control over their existence, those people would be mad that I didn’t get covered in spiders.

Do you even lift?

I’m pretty strong for an 8-year old

If you have a pet project, something to promote, or anything you want share, tell us here.

Kansas City comedy is my pet project so come to KC and watch some of it.

See Aaron and all of the other comics joining him at Flyover Comedy Festival, November 8 – November 10 in the Grove.  Wristbands for the entire festival are on sale now.  Buy yours today!