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.
Jan Gudaitis,also known as Deadpan Jan has a unique voice and a dry and off beat way at looking at life. She has performed at the Limestone Comedy Festival; the Cleveland Comedy Festival; the Golden Spike Comedy Festival;Gilda Radner LaughFest, Chicago Women’s Funny Festival; Let’s Fest Festival; Maumee Joseph and Mary Comedy Festival and the World Series of Comedy, She has worked with Maria Bamford, Jackie Kashian, Laura Kightlinger, Stewart Huff Tim Northern and others.
What are you looking forward to most at the festival this year?
I am looking forward to the Late, Late Breakfast Show on Saturday at 4:00 PM. As a comic, I keep late hours so 4:00 PM is perfect for me. Also, looking forward to seeing friends, meeting other comics and staying up late.
When/where are you performing at the festival?
Friday Nov 9th at 7:00 PM at the Improv Shop
Saturday Nov 10th at 4:00 PM The Late, Late, Breakfast Show at the Improv Shop
Saturday Nov 10th at 7:00 PM at the Improv Shop
Give us your social media information!
Jan Gudaitis Comedy Facebook page
Would you rather be covered in spiders, or live in a world without tacos?
Since I’ve been bitten by a spider and it was no fun and woke up to find the campfire surrounded by a half dozen tarantulas while I slept a few feet away in a mummy sleeping bag, I would prefer to live without taco’s. It wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice since I could still eat all of the fillings separately.
Do you even lift?
Only when necessary! Like when I have to carry the vacuum cleaner from one floor to another or when I have to move mulch around in my yard. When my husband leaves his weights out in the middle of the room, I first curse him under my breath and then roll them out of the way.
Plug something. Commerce will save us all!
We all have dreams and goals, one I hope to realize soon is to write and produce a one-woman-show for various fringe festivals. I hope to prove that Deadpan Jan can bring life to a comedy show.
See Jan and all of the other comics joining her at Flyover Comedy Festival, November 8 – November 10 in the Grove. Wristbands for the entire festival are on sale now. Buy yours today!
On Monday, June 11, the Heavy Anchor will host another edition of the weekly open mic, Comedy Shipwreck, helmed by Chad Wallace at roughly 10:00 pm. A special treat’s in store early, though, as an indie tour shares the venue with a 9 pm start time.
Dubbed Your Uncle’s Girlfriend, the tour features New Orleans comics Laura Sanders and Kate Mason. After a stop in Memphis, St. Louis’ gig will be the second on their June tour swing.
The bio for the show reads like so: “Laura and Kate grew up mere hours apart in Columbus and Pittsburgh, respectively, where they honed their loud voices, love for mushy foods, and ability to fake confidence to avoid ridicule. They met in New Orleans where together they host the beloved weekly open mic, Bear with Me, at Twelve Mile Limit. With over 15 years of stand-up, sketch, and improv comedy experience between the two of them, their credits include being featured on Fox’s LaughsTV, Limestone Comedy Festival, and Denver’s High Plains Comedy Festival. Laura’s comedy album, Oh God Please Like Me, debuted at number one on the iTunes comedy charts.”
Writing from home in NOLA, Mason notes that “this is a single tour, but we would like to do more in the future, so it could end up being a recurring one! We’ve built the tour through friendships with comics in other cities. We’re really lucky to have this network, because each show becomes like a trust fall with the local indie comedy scene. We’re so excited to see who local show producers have picked to be on the shows with us, and get to know each city’s local comics even more.
“This tour is actually a friendship anniversary for us,” she adds. “Laura moved to New Orleans in the fall of 2015. We dodged each other for as long as we could, but by June of 2016 we were unable to deny that friendship was inevitable. Laura started hosting the mic on Monday nights at Twelve Mile Limit around the time we became friends, and I jumped on board a year later.”
The pair look forward to road life.
“One thing that I think is surprising to many people,” Mason adds, “is how amazing comedy shows are in cities that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with great comedy. People tell us how impressed they are by shows in New Orleans all the time, and I think the same goes for a lot of small-mid size cities across the U.S. People are producing incredible, creative shows with fantastic talent all over the country, and you don’t need to pay a lot to see it.”
(In fact, the this Monday’s gig is a “donations accepted” affair, so open your wallet to the sum that moves you.)
Our goal each month to: a) present a nice Q/A feature on three very different comedians, at varied points in their career and with unique goals; and b) to get that live on the first of the month. On the latter, we’re one day late. On the former, we struck gold, with three comics discussing their craft from very singular perspectives. Enjoy the following piece with Hillary Anger, Lucas Hinderliter and Shon Don.
What types of mindset are ideal for creating good comedic bits? Do you work best with deadlines? Do you writing under pressure? Or do you work more productively when life’s playing nice? Have you worked something that’s happened that day into a set?
Anger: My best mindset is when I get triggered about something going on in my life. When this happens, I write a set straight from beginning to end, and otherwise things are sporadic and slow going. I work horribly with deadlines, both in comedy and my job. I’m a professor at Wash U., trained as a psychologist, and do research on topics about business psychology. My best comes out when I have all the time in the world, which is when ironically I work my fastest and most efficiently. Deadlines and pressure make me feel like I’m “working for the man,” so to speak. As a professor, I’m lucky not really to have a “boss.” Technically, I work for the dean, but he doesn’t know where I am at any given time or what I’m working on, so it’s very independent. It’s hard for me to write a set and perform it the same day because I try to rehearse a lot before going on stage. My best comes out when I’ve read a set out loud to myself 10 times beforehand, over the course of a couple of days. I’m basically the opposite of improvisational.
Hinderliter: I think the best mindset to write comedy, for me, is after I’ve been entertained myself. After seeing a funny show or a great concert, I always feel inspired to write more and create something that will make others feel the way I just did. I don’t really write a lot about my real life. I typically just try to take common observations and situations and twist them in a way that makes them funny. And as far as deadlines, the only thing I’ve had to write under a deadline is this Q/A and, well, you see how that’s going.
Shon Don: I’m at my best creatively when I’m in a hood headspace. I wouldn’t say that I work best under pressure but I have performed well when the heat was on. When life is kicking my butt, I can come up with a good premise, but there’s a disconnect keeping me from a fully realized joke. Anytime I’ve worked the day’s goings-on into a set, it’s been freestyling and crowd work.
Similarly, describe your experiences with open mics and how important (or not) they are in how you shape a set, or incorporate new material?
Anger: Open mics are the only viable option for material that isn’t ready for a showcase. I do mostly open mics because I’m still new to the scene. But I have young kids, and it’s hard to get out at night because most of the mics are during family time. My most frequent one is the Crow’s Nest, which is after the kids’ bedtime. Crow’s Nest is a supportive environment, but the wild card element can be intimidating because it forces you to improvise after your set.
Hinderliter: Open mics, to me, are very important. They are a great place to take risks and try stuff that you wouldn’t typically do on a booked show where the stakes are higher. The more open mics you do, the more you become confident in that risky material until it’s no longer risky, but just another joke that you know works. The open mic process in general sucks, but that’s just part of the game.
Shon Don: Open mics are awesome. I wish I could do more. I love the camaraderie, and comics interacting. It’s the gym where we go to train. Since real life keeps me from hitting more mics, I have to do a lot of formulating in my head. That leaves a lot of material that I could be shaping & working on in limbo because most jokes need to be bounced off of a crowd at a mic.
Do your sets involve topical humor, i.e. based on the news, politics, current events or “now” pop culture? Or do you enjoy working with more evergreen types of material?
Anger: My sets are intensely personal, and I don’t do anything about current events or really anything that isn’t about myself. When I started, I was worried about being “relatable.” My first mentor in comedy told me that I needed to bring the audience to me, rather than come to them. So I try to be authentic and see if anyone thinks that is funny. If they don’t, at least I had fun with it.
Hinderliter: I haven’t watched the news since my high school current events class (shout out to Mr. Bennett) like five years ago, so I don’t even know what’s topical. My jokes usually come from taking a common phrase or situation, and making them absurd.
Shon Don: Both. I like talking about race, sexual orientation & things like that. Some folks avoid talking about that stuff, so why not? I try not to do it the same ol’ same, ol’ white folks do this & black folks do that. But I feel like if there’s an elephant in the room? Hell, let’s laugh at it. Now that we’ve laughed together & de-mystified it, lets examine it. I mean, I don’t go reading the news for material, but it helps to keep a pulse on what’s going on & what’s relevant. Then on the flip side I have crazy kids & crazy family like everybody else, so lets laugh about our wacky neighbors together, too.
Any recollections of your first set? Went smoothly? Better left in the past? What stands out weeks, months, years later?
Anger: It was a shock when my first set got laughs! How addicting! The topic was crazy things I’ve done in life just to see what would happen next. The material was more raw than a lot of what I’ve done since then. Some of it was about mental illness, and I realize now that I need more space to unpack that for the audience to come with me on a journey. That said, the one time in a showcase that I took 10-minutes to unpack a long piece on depression, no one thought it was funny. But I’m still glad I did the set.
Hinderliter: My first set went alright, mostly because I was using common joke formulas and doing a lot of shock humor. Years later, I’ve gotten better at recognizing what is an original premise and what has been done before.
Shon Don: Looking back, my first set was mediocre. But at the time, it felt unbelievable. It went about as smoothly as a first set can go. I got a few laughs, way too much fat on my set-ups, but I didn’t bomb so in my mind, I was Chris Rock-funny y’know? Haha.
If given the choice, would you prefer to: deliver a technically solid, polished, rehearsed, all-cylinders-firing set to a middling-into-it audience; or would rather offer up a loose, spontaneous, messy, circus-wire performance to an appreciative audience?
Anger: Definitely the former. I mentioned earlier being the opposite of improvisational, and rehearsed is most comfortable for me. As for whether the audience is appreciative, that matters to me only in an ambivalent way. Comedy is never going to be my day job, and so I have an easy time disconnecting from the audience’s reaction I’m lucky already to have my dream job, being a professor, and I’m doing comedy for self-expression more than for someone else’s reaction to it. At work it’s quite the opposite. Teaching MBAs, I can be on stage for eight hours a day, sometimes five days straight, and I need positive energy in the audience to make it work.
Hinderliter: The majority of my material depends solely on the wording and delivery. Straying from the polished, rehearsed lines risks the audience not clearly understanding what I’m trying to say. I try to deliver material in a way that seems like I’m telling it for the first time but for the most part, I stick to the script.
Shon Don: I would prefer a loose-spontaneous explosive set that gets a great response. But only for the sake of the better crowd response. Essentially the question begs, would I prefer to have talent or skill. I think my skill as a student, writer, & performer outweighs my raw talent to walk onstage, say whatever comes to mind & make it instantly funny. I’ve worked at this & I want that to be appreciated. Thats why we call it a craft. At the end of the day though, its all about that crowd so if I have to go off script to get em, I will.
The set’s over. People are milling around the room. What’s the best way to compliment a performer’s set? What’s the best comment that you’ve heard of late, whether it be a compliment or a smart observation? How much do you wanna hear from patrons, as opposed to other performers?
Anger: We live in a “white lie” society, where people tend to be polite to the exclusion of sharing negative observations. So I take most compliments with a grain of salt. To me the best real compliment is laughter during the set, and the most helpful feedback is dead silence. It’s only real friends who give you the feedback you need to get better. My best friend in comedy will sometimes ask innocently how I think it went, and then I know something was wrong.
Hinderliter: The best way to compliment a performer is to just tell them what you really thought. Whether it be from the audience or another performer, feedback is important. The best comment I’ve heard after a show is a guy came up to me and said “I got what you were doing up there,” implying the rest of the audience didn’t.
Shon Don: The best compliment is when people see you & start laughing all over again at a joke & retell it. “Omg, that one about your barber…”. Those are the best. One guy told me that he loved the way I took really hard topics to talk about & made em funny and relatable. That meant a lot to me because it was like he got it. Some of my jokes are just Dick Van Dyke tripping over furniture. A lot of my stuff is deeper-meaning type stuff. A lot of my jokes punch stereotypes on the jaw if you take time to unpack them. I love hearing from the crowd. It’s dope. I’m humbled by it. Respect from my peers matters a lot too. From the crowd I wanna hear that I killed it. From my peers I wanna hear the little nuances that can make a good joke great.
When are your next, planned public performances?
Anger: I’ve started hosting a new showcase called Basil Spice Comedy, along with Ella Fritts, where we take over a Thai restaurant on a Thursday every two months or so. It gets planned around when a very funny person is in town to feature, so we aren’t sure when it will be next. We may add an open mic component. I’m going to be in the Helium Funniest Person contest, with no expectation of doing more than having fun on the main stage! Other than that, it’s open mics a bit spontaneously whenever I can get time away from the kids.
Hinderliter: The Water’n Hole in Augusta, Illinois, June 9, and Brennan’s Comedy Penthouse on June 10.
Shon Don: I will be in the Funny Bone Comedy Competition this year, dates TBD. I’m performing at Hey Guys in Fairview Heights on June 15th & 16th, featuring for Matt Holt. I will be in Kokomo Indiana June 29th, and Elkhart Indiana June 30th with comedian Stick.
Seldom will this site post things of a bragging nature, but we feel comfortable in staying that this piece will serve, as the headline suggests, The Ultimate Primer of Fatal Bus Accident’s upcoming presentation of Beowulf. The production’s set for June 2 at the Improv Shop and info can be found by clicking this “hotlink.”
The quick version of the evening is described by FBA like so: “We are doing Beowulf, the oldest English story and second most famous English story about Denmark. Unlike literally every movie adaptation, we found a way to make it better, instead of worse. Get excited.”
For further information, we sent a series of questions to the show’s four creators: Jeremy Hellwig, Amy Milton, Stryker Spurlock and Jon Venegoni. In reading through them, you’ll get a sense of how this upcoming stage play came together and what to expect on the night of production, though Spurlock’s appear to clash with the others with some regularity. Within the context of all four, truth will be found.
What’s each of y’all’s background with Beowulf? Favorite story? Saw the movie(s)? “What’s Beowulf?”
Hellwig: Stryker and Amy started talking about doing a Beowulf adaptation over a year ago. I didn’t know much about the story, so I picked up the phenomenal graphic novel adaptation by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin. After finishing that, and doing some Wikipedia research, I became concerned that 1. The story is kind of terrible, and 2. I had no idea how the hell we were going to do it onstage. So, I asked Amy and Stryker how much they knew about the story. Stryker had seen the movie in 2008, and Amy read it back in high school or something. They literally knew less about it than I did. After some deliberating, we decided to scrap our original idea of doing a straight adaptation with our recurring characters playing characters from the poem (think Muppet Treasure Island, or when Family Guy adapted Star Wars) and instead wrote a show where the story of Beowulf happens to our characters (think the times that Bugs Bunny or The Animaniacs stumbled into a classic work or moment from history). Beowulf is a really old poem, in fact the oldest known story in English. In it, a monster attacks, a hero arrives, he kills the monster, then he fights a couple more monsters until it is over. Tolkien loved it. It is extremely influential. It is also a really dumb story that is structured more like a crappy video game than an actual story. Milton: I read it as an undergrad, half-remembered how ridiculous it was, and didn’t give it much more thought until we started writing the show. Spurlock: In 2007, I wrote a short story. A big time Hollywood manager told me it felt like Beowulf. So I watched the motion-capture cartoon and it was dogshit and I was offended. I wanted us to adapt it as revenge. Venegoni: I had to read Beowulf in my Senior Literature class. I remember thinking it was water trash. I think I saw the movie in 3D and it gave me a headache.
Who are some new faces to appear in this episode? What are their roles and why did they seem good fits for said roles?
Hellwig: We have 4 guest actors in this episode. Meredith Hopping is making her first FBA appearance as Grendel’s Mom. We thought she would be really great at playing a character that is alternately passive aggressive and extremely angry, so we wrote the role toward those strengths. Nick Tacony is playing a couple different peasants in this episode, which are his first FBA speaking roles (he previously played a wolf). We thought he could look the part and do the accent we wanted. Casey Paulson will be playing Beowulf and Emily Hickner will be playing the monster Grendel. In both cases, they 1. don’t look the part at all, which we thought was funny, but 2. we knew they could pull off the exact kind of energy that we needed for the roles. After a week or so of rehearsals, all of them are already amazing in their roles. Spurlock: This month, our cast consists of Emily Hickner, Meredith Hopping, Sam Lyons, Casey Paulsen, and Nick Tacony. I shannot tell you who they’re playing, but if you’re familiar with Beowulf and these performers, it should be obvious. As with everyone we cast, they are chosen by God to fit their roles perfectly.
Let’s dial things back, actually. Episodes and the like. If I’ve missed the last, say, four or five shows (confession: I’ve missed the last four or five shows), how difficult will it be to reacquaint myself with the feel and vibe of FBA?
Hellwig: It shouldn’t be difficult at all. We have serialized/recurring elements to the show, but we always work hard to make sure new audience members will be able to follow everything that happens. Plus, this is pretty much a standalone episode, and there will be narration. You don’t have to know anything about FBA or Beowulf to enjoy it. Milton: Since the show is only very lightly serialized, you should be able to drop back in without confusion. The main changes in the past 9 months or so are 1. We’ve gotten better at writing around one central idea instead of trying to mash disparate ideas together and 2. We’ve gotten much more explicit about the fact that Jon’s character is a bird. Spurlock: Not difficult at all. FBA is a font of wonder, for everyone to enjoy, whether they’re newcomers or old fans. Though you should feel absolutely ashamed for missing our best 4 or 5 episodes. Venegoni: First of all, I forgive you for missing the last four or five shows. I still love you. Since then, the show has grown a mustache, and you missed the episode when Skully got abducted. You will be fine! It’s always written to be accessible to everyone every episode. The advantage of seeing each one provides little easter eggs. It’s fun. Good stuff.
Writing for these is done how and by whom? Do guest performers have some improvisational room within this? Or would you like them at least somewhat-grounded in the script?
Milton: We usually spend a month or so writing as a group, and once we have a script, we do readings with the cast. If a guest performer has a better way of phrasing a line or an idea for a joke that fits with the rest of the script, we make the change. We work hard on the scripts so we like to stick pretty close to them, but we cast the people we cast because we want to hear their ideas and trust them to bring something to the characters. Hellwig: Every show is written by Stryker, Amy, Jon, & me. Amy’s answer is better than the rest of what I had typed, but I would like to add that one of the most exciting parts of producing this show is seeing actors make unexpected decisions, such as accents, lines, or suggestions for their costumes, that make the show even better. Spurlock: I write every script in my head and dictate it to the other three members of FBA, who tirelessly type for me. They work in shifts. They are good typers. Venegoni: It used to be all them and I only did music and interrupted dialogue with silly comments, but they slowly guilted me into helping with writing the plot. We all contribute and argue equally. I’m really lucky to work with such talented writers. They have taught me a whole lot and have always been receptive to my ideas.
To what degree will elements like live musical accompaniment or pre-recorded video have play within this Beowulf edition? Or do we need to attend to find out?
Hellwig: We have one video segment. Also, Jon will be live scoring large portions of the show. We’ve had Jon play a decent amount of music in the past, but this will be our first time utilizing a score. As always, there will be a running slideshow the whole time. Spurlock: We’ve all signed an NDA on this. Venegoni: I am so excited and nervous for this one. I plan on live scoring the whole thing using my keyboard, iPad and loop pedal. I’m also in a narration role this time, so you’ll see me
True lightning round: a. Single moment that stands out to you, either as performer or viewer, for whatever reason, be it profundity or hilarity?
Hellwig: My favorite single moment was Amy getting punched in the face by an eagle while “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado played over heavy metal drumming and bird shrieks. Milton: We had a show that was centered around the Pope (Pope Toby, played by Keith Hughes) visiting, and Jon converts to Catholicism because it sounds fun, but then he finds out about Hell and original sin and is distressed to find out that he is not a good boy because “good boys isn’t real.” I like that we were able to do a comedy show about religious participation that dealt with the pros and cons pretty fairly (in my opinion) without getting preachy. Spurlock: During January’s Fatal Beach Accident, Ryan Dalton played Officer Holstein, the Cop Who Is Constantly Shitting His Pants. He threw turds at us and many people in the audience screamed, which brought me great happiness. Venegoni: Performing FBA at Flyover Festival b. Single performance by a guest that’s a standout in your mind? Milton: This is a hard question because we’ve had a lot of great guests, but I’m going to go with Cameron Keys as Prime Minister of the World, Dr. Columbus Whaley, D.D.S., who has only appeared on video. Coincidentally, Cameron is the stand-up guest on the Beowulf show. Spurlock: Andrew Mihalevich is one of our most versatile and dependable guest actors. In March, he played The Faun, a thief who haunts our stage, and he excelled at it. Venegoni: Tom Cook killed it last show playing Alb Balbert. Hellwig: This is so hard to answer. Oh wait, Amy said Cameron as the Prime Minister and I have to agree. c. Story line (or even wisp of a thread of a gnat’s thought of a storyline) that was scuttled, but screams for a return? Hellwig: Stryker will probably disagree with me, but we haven’t done a time travel heavy episode in a while. That’s an aspect of my character’s backstory that I am always trying to bring back. Spurlock: We’ll do time travel over my dead fucking body, Jeremy. I will say no more, because every idea I like eventually gets used. As I said earlier, I am the sole author. Venegoni: The mouth will rise again. d. With all due respect to former space, what makes the current space “work” for the show? Hellwig: The stage is much bigger, and there are overhead mics. I love Heavy Anchor, and I still do Sorry, Please Continue there, but FBA often has too many characters onstage to have them all using hand mics. Also, the main stage at IS seats a lot more people. We stuck with Heavy Anchor until we were consistently filling the room, then moved on to a bigger venue. Oh, and lastly, we didn’t realize how much nicer it would be having the projector screen to the side of the stage. It’s a lot easier to see the PowerPoint slides without stage lights shining on them. Milton: The main advantage of the new space is the stage, which is larger and mic’d so we don’t have to have 5 corded microphones on stage with us while trying to do a play. Spurlock: No one walking behind us to use the bathroom. A bigger stage to accommodate my big ole dick. And of course, tons of Improv Shop Boys to use as human furniture. Venegoni: Heavy Anchor was our first home, and they allowed us to grow into what we are today. I can’t thank them enough for being the most amazing people and allowing us to do whatever. we. wanted. to. do. We got to fly drones in their venue with guests inside and had a drone attack on stage to kill a character. It’s hard to express how rare it is to find a place that will allow you the liberty to do such a dumb thing. They helped us to get to the point where we outgrew the venue. Improv Shop has treated us better than we could ever have imagined. Their setup at the venue has brought a level of production value that we couldn’t have imagined having access to. We are so happy in our new home.
And for any, where can folks find more information on this show, this concept, etc.?
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 13. The day before Mother’s Day is Saturday, May 12. This is the more-important date, as Kelsey McClure’s prepared a second edition of The Mom Show!, hosted again by Blueberry Hill, within the cozy confines of the Duck Room. It’ll feature a tightly-reined, 120-minutes of entertainment, as described by McClure below. (Event info.)
The Mom Show! is part of McClure’s continuing production work under the banner of Comedy Here. In the Q/A below, we discuss this show, in particular, but also her plans for coming events, current writing practice and some other odds’n’sods of interest.
I’m interested in going to your show. But I don’t understand how it works. Can you run me through the basics?
Sure. Mom Show! is a celebration of Moms. Imagine you’re watching Conan but instead of Andy Richter Conan’s co-host is his Mom. Think Jimmy Fallon with yes, you guessed it, his Mom. There are four interviews, all with a Mother/Child duo, a stand-up set and a segment I’m calling Story of the Mom where a few select Moms will spin a wheel with a variety of topics and share a personal experience. The show starts promptly at 8 p.m. and will wrap by 10 p.m. in consideration of bed times.
Was this a concept adapted from another one, elsewhere? Another one here? Or did this escape your brain, as-is and ready-to-show-run?
I was listening to the Tig Notaro episode of This American Life where she talks about the joke her Mother-in-Law wrote and then wound up telling on stage at Largo when the idea started to overwhelm me. My friend Sarah and I were both doubled over in laughter and tears and I said, “All I want to do is a show with my Mom.” She looked at me point blank and said, “You should.” I drafted a pitch, she gave it a quick review and within minutes sent it out. Not a week later I had the date booked at Blueberry Hill Duck Room. I had a very basic idea of how the show would play out but mostly I just imagined Tig and Carol (the Mother-in-Law) coming over for lunch and us bouncing ideas off each other.
Thinking back on last year’s event, what really “worked” about the event? What would you like to see this year?
It was in fact the first show and it was also the first time after a show I’ve produced that the bartender came up to me after and said, “You have to do this again next year.” There’s been well over a hundred shows at this point too. I knew I had something special and it was insane to think someone else thought so too.
The chemistry between Mother and child makes the whole show. I billed it as a comedy show but wasn’t entirely sure it would be funny. As a standup comic I felt like I was setting myself up for familiar but my very basic understanding of improv reminded me, entertainment is always funny.
I honestly can’t say I had a favorite segment, there were momentous times during each one. What impressed me, other than the Mothers, who all but one had zero stage experience and absolutely crushed, it was the audience. They were engaging and respectful and incredibly patient. Three-quarters of the people onstage that night hadn’t been on a stage since they walked across one to graduate, or for a few, ever. So the show doesn’t run with the same urgency as a comedy show. It’s much more relaxed, the whole process is happening right in front of you rather than just the final product.
This year we have American Sign Language interpreters for the show as one of the Mothers involved is deaf. So what I really want to see is how the show evolves and adapts through a form of communication. I haven’t seen sign language at a comedy show that wasn’t at The Fox or Pageant so I’m excited to open up an entertainment option for those who are hearing impaired on a smaller more intimate scale. I hope it brings out a more diverse audience and also reminds those who are frequent show goers how we can take for granted the thing we all desperately rely on, communication and understanding, especially when it comes to doing so with our Moms.
Let’s back up a bit. Tell us about your general show-running in town right now. What have you been working on? What types of shows interest you, as a producer?
I was running a multi-media friendly open mic that was the apple of my eye. Unfortunately the venue is no longer available so the search for a new space is on. 90-Minute Mic was every last Friday of the month in the garage at Gezellig (now in transition to become a pizza spot) that welcomed all acts but comedy was certainly encouraged. With it being on Friday it leaned to a walk-up audience so comics weren’t repeating jokes to the same crowd and comedy was being introduced to an audience that may not know to look for it.
I’m done seeking out comics to produce traditional standup shows. There’s more than enough people doing that in St. Louis now so I get to take my turn enjoying stage time, rather than creating it.
I think one-off, experience-based shows is the way to go. It’s been what’s happening in St. Louis in terms of music for awhile now and I feel like an idiot for not picking up in it. People love tribute bands. Comedy tributes no so much but they’ll take a risk on a beer and comedy show or themed show way before just going to hear someone tell jokes. Plus I’ve been bored by the traditional standup format since what feels like day one, and have been finding new ways to spice it up. For example, Giggle & Guzzle: A Comedic Beer Pairing is a standup show that pairs beer with comedians. It’s like a beer dinner but sub comics for courses that I’m producing at The Improv Shop for St. Louis Craft Beer Week. I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate glitter cannons and fog machines into comedy but nothing has truly inspired that mayhem yet.
It feels as if you’ve traveled a bit of late, plus you’ve been day-gigging here and CoMo. Have you been enjoying some time for the craft of writing jokes, or have you been seeking out that time, of late?
I have been making time to write. A year ago I was dead set on recording an album. I set a date and booked gigs in LA to follow as an incentive to get it done. My goal was to knockout the album and then see if I could pull off those same jokes in LA. I wanted to find out if I was just funny in the Midwest or if I had a shot at actually going full comedian on the West Coast. I didn’t want to do a traditional album and couldn’t settle on the format so I ruled out the album. I was also deathly afraid it’d be a pity plea. I was afraid that the crowd would be out to support me because they owed me a favor or something and not my jokes. I was afraid if I recorded the album in another city nobody would show up and that if I recorded it in St. Louis it wouldn’t be authentic. It would be a Kelsey’s greatest hits, material everyone has heard, already laughed at and asking them to come out and listen all over again would be too selfish of me. You can absolutely tell on a recording when someone is laughing to be kind and considerate to the performer and when they’re laughing because what they’re processing is funny. I didn’t want the former and didn’t think I could avoid it.
So: yes. I’ve been writing. I’ve been seeking out gigs and taking my time on new material. I want to produce fewer, better jokes just the way I’ve been producing fewer, better shows. I’m trying to figure out if I’m a comic or a producer because I can’t be both.
What else, generally, should we know about this gig? The 5Ws and H we’ve got, but why is this the ticket for Saturday night?
Mom Show! is a night out that’s quite literally like no other show in St. Louis. It’s clean comedy without the label. It’s an opportunity to enjoy a night out with the family that doesn’t involve a buffet line or having to put on a slacks. It’s quick, it’s early and it’s not going to break the bank. My Mother and I are incredibly different individuals, as are all of the duos on stage. It’s an opportunity to see how compromise can be a celebration and not settling. I promised not to swear and Mom promised not purchase matching outfits.
Were you thinking about staying in this week and maybe catching up on Mozart in the Jungle or Homeland? Thinking again, cupcake. St. Louis Comedy is going to keep you very busy this week. We got indie shows, club shows, and even a theater show. Practice calling in sick, you’re going to have a few late nights.
We’re at the end of January and by now you should’ve lost 35 pounds, woken up earlier every day, and finally fed your cat on a regular basis. If you haven’t, you’ve got 11 more months tackle those resolutions, but you should probably feed the cat soon. Take some time off and treat yourself with St. Louis Independent Comedy shows this week.
There is a lot of comedy in St. Louis tonight. In addition to Steve Rannazzisi at Helium, Rachel Feinstein at The Funny Bone, Shawn Morgan at The Laugh Lounge, and Jim Norton at The Pageant, the independent comedy scene is giving you a ton of options. We even threw in a little something for any trapped in Ste. Genevieve tonight.
Where did all the shows go? FUNNY you should ask. They were all buried under snow and now they’re thawing out. It’s the second week of January which means winter is wrapping up, but don’t worry, stable geniuses don’t believe in global warming. After the thaw, we should have more St. Louis comedy shows.
Nah, everything is the same. It’s just super cold right now, but we’re still bringing you all the hot comedy shows coming up in the St. Louis area. It also might be a good time to build a fallout shelter.