Contraceptive Comedy is the longest running independent stand up showcase in St. Louis. Every month, host Stryker Spurlock brings some of the best travelling and local comics to Shameless Grounds, a sex positive coffee house in the Benton Park neighborhood.
Describe what you do.
One Saturday a month, I put on a stand up comedy showcase at the sex-positive coffee shop Shameless Grounds. I host most of them and book them all. Usually, it’s just St. Louis comics but we often feature out of towners as well.
How long have you existed?
Three years. Our first show was August 3, 2013.
Shameless had a music and poetry open mic every Wednesday. A couple other comics and I would go to it. The host’s boyfriend suggested we start a showcase. So we did. Now, that open mic doesn’t exist, the host isn’t dating that guy anymore, and the people I started the show with no longer do comedy.
I remain. I have seen the terrible torrent of time wash away all things. I will be here until the very end, a bleached skeleton holding a microphone, crows picking at my eyes that gaze into the future even in death.
Who are your biggest influences for what you do?
My St. Louis comedy ancestors.
I came into the St. Louis scene in late 2012. A lifetime ago! I was just a boy, coming up from Ravenden, Arkansas, to make it happen in the big city.
Now in those days, the premier alternative stand-up comedy showcase was Too Hip (for a Comedy Club) Hilarious Showcase Spectacular. Which is a godawful name. It was awesome. Kris Wernowsky, with help from Kenny Kinds and Emily Hickner and others, put on the monthly show at Foam with great out of town comics and packed audiences.
When I finally got on that show, I felt a certain sense of honor, which now means nothing to me. But it was cool at the time! I’d say I set out to make a room equaling Too Hip.
Describe your worst performance/show?
Any show that isn’t amazing fills me with a righteous fury to do better next month. But, in the early days, I ran my show like a jackass.
We’d book pretty much anybody just to get everyone who was doing mics. So there were a lot of questionable line-ups. We also didn’t put up posters for the first year, so the show was often very sad, because we were idiots. I remember bombing there particularly horribly and then sitting outside while my co-host ran the rest of the show.
Also, one thing I hate that happens more often than I’d like is when a comic thinks they have to talk about LGBT stuff just because they’re at Shameless Grounds. Then they really mishandle it and embarrass themselves. This happens about 4 times a year and every time feels like watching Darth Vader kill Obi-Wan.
Describe your best performance/show experience.
December 2014, Nick Vatterott headlined the show. Nick’s been on Comedy Central and Conan, so the room was way over capacity. I had some of my favorite locals open and everyone did well. Nick is one of my top five comics and just an awesome dude. Sadly, I couldn’t pay attention to his set because Ryan Dalton pranked me into thinking the show was going to be targeted by a gang of burglars. (Convoluted and long story.)
Tell us something your organization is particularly proud of.
A lot of people tell me I’m cocky. They are correct, and it is entirely justified. Because I run the best stand-up show in town. And I’ll fight any dissenters online!
No but for real, probably the fact I’ve given a lot of newer comics their first paid showcase spots. It’s a good feeling to recognize and reward talent early. Maybe one of these people will start their own show and become an egomaniac and topple me.
What do you like most about the St. Louis Comedy Scene?
We have a handful of comics who I use as a litmus test when I go on the road. I see comics in other scenes and think “Are they as good as our best people?” If the answer is yes, that’s how you know a comic is Really Fuckin Good. So I like the amount of talent here and being able to use it to judge things.
You have 30 seconds to convince a group of traveling salespeople to come to your show instead of heading to a Buffalo Wild Wings for all you can eat hot wings. What do you say?
One of the comics will probably sell you Adderall.
Plug something. It’s why we do this.
Upcoming dates for Contraceptive Comedy: August 27, September 24, and October 29. October 29th is an experiment. Instead of doing it showcase style with 5-8 comics, I’m doing it comedy club style. Three comics. A host, a feature, a headliner.
Amy Milton is headlining. I might not even be on it. So make sure to come to that. Amy is the best and if I’m not performing, that means I’ll actually be enjoying the show for once.