Friday, July 21, 2017

Laughing Stock: The Dating Game, Repeatedly

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Chuck Barris may never die. At least the TV game shows that made him millions—The Gong Show, The Treasure Hunt and The Dating Game—seem immortal. In memory, scratchy videos, sequels and knock offs, they continue to resonate with universal human drives—winning, foraging, mating. Are they popular because the beasts are less daunting in a comical light?

Tucson Comedians Bethany Evans and Mo Urban resurrect The Dating Game at The Flycatcher, 430 E. 6th St., at 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 30; free. Anyone who’d like to find something funny in dating, i.e. anyone who’s ever had or wanted a date, might want to join the fun. Literally.

“We are still looking to fill a spot,” Evans says. “We especially welcome contestants from our LGBTQ community.” Prospective contestants should get their names in as soon as possible, but plans are for the show to be quarterly; you’ll have another chance. Like washing the car to provoke rain, applying for The Dating Game might even inspire the universe to find you a date, meanwhile. Email your interest to

“A lot of contestants are comics,” Evans says, “because those are the people Mo and I know. Comics like to play because of the opportunity to improvise. About half of (the contestants) are regular people we know through work or other networks. We really want a lot of diverse people to play the game, though.”

Evans first hosted a dating game in 2003 at Bumsted’s (R.I.P.) at the suggestion of then owner Barb Shuman. In 2015, again at Shuman’s invitation, she brought the show back for five “episodes’ with partner J. Lugo Miller. Miller co-produces the 2017 iteration, taking charge of sound, sound effects and simple props.

Evans says, “The reboot will follow the original format: one bachelor or bachelorette, questioning 3 unseen contestants, and choosing one for a date, based solely on their answers.”

Recalling the Bumsted’s years, Evans says, “It was a blast, I heard a lot of great stories about people’s experiences with it.” Urban, an early contestant, has even woven her Dating Game turn into her comedy routine.

“My experience was so positive I was sad to see it go,” she says. “It wasn’t so much about finding someone. It was more about just putting myself out there.” And that’s just what you have to do.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Laughing Stock: Where Does Comedy Come From?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 11:00 AM


In the last few months, Tucson has lost three important comedy “workshops.” These were not open mics, per se, but sessions in which comedians and aspiring comedians write together, try out new material, and get feedback from other, usually more experienced comics.

Two of the former workshops’ venues are or were closing. The third, at the Screening Room, lost out as part of a nightly comedy idea that ultimately failed to meet the venue’s needs. (The Screening room now hosts one comedy night a month on the first Friday.)

Fortunately for the Tucson comedy community, its longest-standing supporter, Laff’s Comedy Caffe, began a year ago to host its own workshop. Laff’s is Tucson’s only comedy venue that can offer a new comedian a paid hosting gig or an unpaid guest slot in front of a large audience, with nationally known comedians who can potentially give their careers a boost. With the workshop, the club expanded its commitment from encouraging local comedians to also helping to develop them.

In the wake of other workshops’ closing, Laff’s staffer and professional comedian Michael Celi says Laffs is stepping up this commitment with a new program, Comedy Outreach. Whereas the original workshops were for anyone who showed up with new ideas to hone or jokes to practice, Comedy Outreach will have more structure and include a schedule of experienced comics charged with giving feedback. Comedy Outreach starts June 22 and continues at 6 p.m. every Thursday, ending just as open-mic signups begin at 7 p.m.

Celi says, “The main difference between what I'm doing and what (the other workshops) were doing is that this is not for an audience. I wouldn't turn an audience away, but I’ll be working to have an audience composed entirely of other comics.”

Laff’s longstanding 8 p.m. open mic continues to attract as many as 40 comics every week. No one would dispute that it’s the most popular free comedy show in town, although your mileage will vary from comic to comic. Laff’s Comedy Caffe is at 2900 E. Broadway Blvd. Find info about upcoming shows at

Summer Movie

Tucson Improv Movement’s summer feature, “The Movie,” continues at 9 p.m. Saturdays until further notice. Based on an audience suggestion, the TIM cast creates scenes and populates a script-less improv “movie” with plots, subplots and characters. Hilarity ensues. TIM Theatre, 329 E. 7th St.; $5.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Into the Mild: The Adventures of Jason and Hobbes

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Traveling alone can be tough. When all of my snooty friends couldn’t join me because they had families or careers they couldn’t walk away from, I had to get creative in my search for a companion.

I left Tucson in June of 2014, traveling with a group of 500 soccer fanatics to watch the World Cup in Brasil. We were hundreds of strangers from across the US and everyone seemed to bond almost immediately

Then, after two weeks, they were gone.

I next stayed with a friend from Brasil, though she usually had school and I spoke no Portuguese at the time.

Then, after two weeks, I was on my own again.

I worked in Bahia for a month, then left and never saw my coworkers again. I repeated the experience in Salvador. And Ecuador. And Peru. You see the pattern. I was surrounded by people who wouldn't stay in my life. I was alone in a crowd. I wanted a permanent travel companion, flexible and adventurous.

So I made my own.

First came the pattern. I found this nifty guide, printed out a PDF of the design, bought some fleece, and got to work.


I started with the arms and legs. They were the easiest pattern, and as I had never sewn before, the least noticeable if/when something went wrong.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Let's All Take a Moment to Remember the Time C-3PO Drummed for Linda Rondstadt

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 2:15 PM

Alright, maybe that headline was a tad misleading, but you should check out this vintage Marvel comics magazine cover courtesy of io9 that depicts Tucson's patron saint of twang in an actual supergroup with C-3PO on drums, Captain American on bass and Dr. Strange on guitar. The February 1978 issue of Pizzazz also promises a "scintillatin'" poster of Dr. J that I'd really like to see.

Wonder what this combo would sound like... - THATWEISSGUY/TWITTER
  • ThatWeissGuy/Twitter
  • Wonder what this combo would sound like...

Pretty cool, right?

Linda Rondstadt also played in Tucson with another supergroup—The Rolling Stones—that same year. Coincidence? I think so. But still, you should listen to this:

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Final Chapter of Pinhead

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 3:30 PM

  • New World Pictures

In the vast and twisted world of the horror gene there is a diverse and potent selection of ingredients to induce a nightmare. From slashers, to the supernatural, to creature features, zombies and all things beyond the grave, horror is a creative insight into the subjective nature of fear. Hell can look and feel like a lot of different things. Most of the monsters and ghoulies and people that scare us do so because they want, will or are currently trying to eat, maul, sacrifice or vamp us. Or else, they represent something inside in the dark bowels of human nature that frightens us of one another.

In the proud and spooky hall of genre icons, one big bad shines out for his kind of intellectual way of enjoying our sweet sufferings.

Pinhead, of Clive Barker’s horror-novel-verse and the Hellraiser film series, has been a staple of horror since he first stepped into this dimension in the 1986 novella, “The Hellbound Heart.”

After watching the rock star of the Cenobites completely tear souls apart with ripping hooks, chains and painful flesh removal throughout his long residency in books, films and comics, it’s hard to remember he was once just a couple of sentences.

Barker has always been open about his own surprise at the Pope of Hell’s journey to fame. He really hadn’t intended “Pinhead” to become a big star but he has sure been living with the monster all these long years. Pinhead was a bit of a puzzle box himself for his creator, Barker becoming synonymous with him above all his other works. ("Books of Blood" is a close second.)

Now, 25 years later, Barker has written one final Pinhead story, the last of the sadomasochistic hell priest in his erotic, twisted canon. “The Scarlet Gospels,” Barker’s long awaited new novel, left readers in a living Hell waiting years for him to write the long promised death of Pinhead. Released May 19, the novel marks Barker’s return to adult fiction and is the first sequel he has actually ever written to his original novella.

In a May article with Rue Morgue magazine, Barker spoke about his long promised plans of killing off his iconic and defining character.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Powered by a Pissed Off Panda

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 9:00 AM

  • Courtesy of Frank Powers

Tucson is ripe with stories. Important ones, happy ones, sad ones, funny ones and pissed off ones. With a population heavy with creative, humorous types, we are lucky to have skilled hands to take on every one of these tales. For the last 10 years, some of us here in Tucson have looked not to a person, but to a panda. A pissed off one.

Pissed OFF Panda, the brainchild of Tucson transplant Frank Powers, is a comic book character with a big chip on his shoulder. An outlet for his creator to speak on Tucson and life, the character's 13 years in existence  have led into the development of a dedicated fan base, merchandise, Comic-Con appearances and now an upcoming,  on-going comic series. 

Powers says his character wasn’t so much a creation as it was a meeting of two like minds.

“He lets me vent about everything that I find mind-numbing and hate,” he says. “I didn’t just invent him though, I actually met Pissed OFF when I impulsively flew across the country because I was in love with a girl, wound up in San Diego and went to the San Diego Zoo. Their big thing is pandas so when I was in the gift shop, there was one doll that was sitting on the shelf and sticking out like a sore thumb. He looked mis-stitched and I said, 'Look at him! He looks Pissed OFF!'”

After coming to Tucson, Powers dug into the source material of the city, made up of eccentric characters and the strange, beloved places they inhabit. Pissed OFF’s world is one many of us were part of, the late hours and cups of coffee at the now closed Grill, formerly located at 100 E Congress St. 

“I’d always wanted to make a book about Grill to capture all the insanity that the place offered," says Powers. "I have many creative projects, comics and characters and I realized I’d use all the projects as ingredients in one giant, Tucson-centric project. I merged my cartoon characters, life stories, Grill adventures, podcasting and everything into one succinct parody of Tucson. It’s all seen through the eyes of my angry little jerk of a cartoon character, Pissed OFF Panda- whose job is exactly what mine was- working the graveyard shift at Grill, which is alive and thrives in my cartoony-verse.”

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sticky Subject: Spider-Man & the Supreme Court

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 5:01 PM

Cronkite News Service catches up with Tucsonan Stephen Kimble, the inventor of a Spider-Man web shooter who lost his case for ongoing royalties when the Supreme Court ruled against him yesterday:

The Supreme Court ruled against the Tucson inventor of a Spider-Man web shooter toy Monday, saying Marvel Entertainment no longer has to pay him royalties on its sale of the toy.

Stephen Kimble had argued that a 1964 court ruling that banned royalty payments after a patent expired was outdated and anti-competitive, and needed to be overturned.

But the court, in a 6-3 decision, said it was bound by precedent, even if that “means sticking to some wrong decisions.” The opinion by Justice Elena Kagan said Congress is the proper venue for Kimble’s complaint.

Kimble said Monday he was disappointed with the ruling.

“It’s as if nobody is really defending this law, but they’re saying, ‘Go to Congress to change it, don’t come to us,'” he said in a phone interview. “It’s disappointing.”
A few weeks ago, the Weekly reported that nerds were taking over the world. Further evidence: Slate notes that Justice Elena Kagan loaded up her opinion with Spider-Man references:

Continue reading »

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Talking Comics: Princess Leia #1 and we say Goodbye to Jenny

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 3:00 PM

This week in Talking Comics we have the whole cast reviewing Princess Leia #1!

Set right after the destruction of Aldeeran we see how Princess Leia handles the loss of her home planet in Rebel fashion. 

Written By Mark Waid, with art by Terry & Rachel Dodson

Long time co-host Jenny Cake Sweigert is venturing to Louisiana with her fiance to go find SwampThing or whatever you do in Louisiana.
She will be dearly missed and we wish her the best!

Watch the second video to see the cast tribute goodbye video for Jenny. It may or may not have been inspired by the hit song "Kiss by the Rose"- Seal, from Batman Forever. 
Talking Comics is brought to you by Heroes & Villains comic book store

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Carnival of Illusion: Magic, Mystery & Oooh La La!

This top-rated illusion show is "Revitalizing Magic" by blending an international travel theme with all the charms… More

@ Scottish Rite Grand Parlour Saturdays. Continues through April 14 160 South Scott Ave

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