Thursday, February 13, 2020

Laughing Stock: Date night, book report and laughing at the beast

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 1:00 AM

click to enlarge Vanessa Hollingshead will be your cupid at Laffs Comedy Caffe’s Love and Laffter: Dinner Date at 8 on Valentines Day. - VANESSA HOLLINGSHEAD
Vanessa Hollingshead
Vanessa Hollingshead will be your cupid at Laffs Comedy Caffe’s Love and Laffter: Dinner Date at 8 on Valentines Day.
Romantic Comedy stars Vanessa Hollingshead

Maybe Laff’s should offer a prize for the first engagement of the evening. Valentines Day date night starts with dinner at 8, featuring dreamy “sirloin medallions with roasted garlic and bacon, smothered in a creamy Marsala sauce” or similarly salacious sounding chicken and salmon options. Sides include salad, vegetables and steamed basmati rice.

The main course, so to speak, are the laughs, delivered with style and sass by the estimable Vanessa Hollingshead. Classy and vulnerable under a veneer of New York brass, Hollingshead is an actor and playwright as well as a comedian. At age 18, she won a scholarship to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatrical Institute.

Her upbringing, though, was weird and awful, with occasional twists of psychedelic color. Spawned by self-absorbed, committed drug addicts in stereotypically hippie camouflage, Hollingshead has told interviewers that her mother rewarded her house housework with amphetamines. A tour of foster homes ensued. At least some prestige was involved: Her Father apparently introduced Timothy Leary and Sir Paul McCartney to LSD.

Once she learned she could make people laugh she worked as much as possible. Among her jokes, she’s created enough hilarious characters to populate a madhouse. Within two years, she began supporting herself with comedy. When personal tragedy took her off-track for a few years, she says, a cruise-ship booking eventually rescued her. Call it a Love Boat.

Reservations for Love and Laffter: Dinner Date at 8 are $30 via Beverages, tax and tip are added after the show, Hollingshead also performs at Laffs’ regular showtimes: 10:30 Friday, and 7:30 and 9 p.m. Reservations are $12.50 and $17.50 via

Minting Mishka

If you’ve been looking for a reason to revisit The Mint, here’s a great one. Author, guitarist, songwriter and comedian Mishka Shubaly performs there at 8 p.m., Wednesday, February 19. Admission is by donation.

The Mint's interior has benefited from some deft remodeling by its most recent owners. The bar feels lighter and roomier. The stage is smaller, but brighter and ideal for the Wednesday, 9 p.m. open mic hosted there most of the year by long-time Tucson comedian Joey Giron.

Shubaly released his 12th Amazon book last December in audiobook form,  It’s his fifth since his 2011 bestseller, The Long Run. Jeff Bezos is a fan. Titled This Van Could Be Your Life, the new work explores the meaning of family as revealed over a thousand-mile journey in a rickety van with seven family members in crisis.

Shubaly is best known in the comedy world for having composed the soundtrack for The Unbookables, a raunchy film frolic through the travails of Stanhope’s friends and acolytes on a tour of sketchy midwestern comedy clubs. Among the film's comedians is Kristine Levine, now co-host of The Frank Show on 96.1 KLPX. Levine frequents The Mint open mics, and Stanhope has made unannounced visits there to perform with friends.

Shubaly's official featured comedian is Ray Porter whose main hustle is narrating audiobooks. According to industry resource Audiofile, Porter can speak with 27 accents. That could be a whole set.

Comedy A – Z at The O

Ali Musa and Matt Ziemak, two of Tucson’s hardest working, and commensurately popular, local comedians, play on their names for the title of their show at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15 at The O. Tickets are $5. It’s a chance for Tucson comedy fans to see them stretch into much longer sets than local showcases allow.

Ziemak co-hosts, with Rory Monserrat, the monthly comedy showcase Brew Ha Ha at Borderlands Brewery. He also co-hosts, with Green Shirt Guy Alex Kack, the popular concept show, The Switch, which moves from The Hut to Skybar starting Thursday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. The Switch invites audience members text fun words for the night's lineup of comedians to riff on. The show is free.

Register to vote by Feb. 18!

Thank goodness for Capitol Steps. Founded in the Reagan era, they’ve continued to remind us that politics can be funny, and that without the First Amendment, we might not be able to laugh about it. On Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m., the D.C. comedy troupe performs at the Fox Tucson Theatre to benefit the UArizona Hillel Foundation’s annual campaign. Tickets are $65 to $145 via, and $180, which includes a $90 donation to the Hillel Annual Campaign, at

Lots More Comedy

Thursday, Feb. 13, improv showcase for Improv 101 and 201 at 7:30 ($5), and a free public improv jam at 8:30, TIM Comedy Theatre (Tucson Improv Movement), and standup

Friday, Feb. 14, standup with The Amazing Cop Comic Jim Perry with locals Chris Haughton and Allana Erickson-Lopez, 7 p.m., Coyote Trail Stage, 8000 N. Silverbell Rd. ($10); long-form improv with Harold Team Alpha and The Dating Scene at 7:30 p.m. ($5) and The Soapbox at 9 p.m. ($7) at TIM Comedy Theatre (TIM)($10 for both shows). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. and Freeform Friday at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).

Saturday, Feb. 15,  improv with The Laugh Tracks and Game Show Show at 7:30 p.m., and Standup 101 Showcase and The Dating Scene at 9 p.m. at TIM ($7, both shows for $10, $2 off with Cat Card). Family-Friendly Improv with NBOJU at 7:30 p.m., and House Team Double Feature at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench,
The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Feb. 17, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy, The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m., The Screening Room; 8:30 p.m., The Mint; 9:30 p.m., The Rock.
Thursday, Feb. 19, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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