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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Laughing Stock: Set Unlisted is Free 2 for 1 Standup and Improv

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 8:18 PM

The Titanic comedy team of Leland Long and Matt Ziemak presents Set Unlisted, free, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 24, at Laff's Comedy Caffe.​ - JEREMY SHOCKLEY
  • Jeremy Shockley
  • The Titanic comedy team of Leland Long and Matt Ziemak presents Set Unlisted, free, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 24, at Laff's Comedy Caffe.​
As Leland Long was serially abandoning potentially lucrative UA degree programs, he stumbled across his true calling: comedy. Now, he confesses, “I have no money.”

The sacrifice has so far been worth it. His comedy life is well-populated and fun-filled, and the rest of us get to enjoy its output. His latest project, in collaboration with standup comedian Matt Ziemak, is a unique mash up of stand-up and improv: “Set Unlisted.” The show makes its second appearance at Laff’s Comedy Caffe at 8 pm, Sunday, September 24. It’s free, but the club has a two-item minimum.

Set Unlisted, the name, comes from comedians’ common practice of making a “setlist” of their jokes as they warm up for a show. These pre-show setlists can be on bar napkins, in notebooks, on cellphones and often on the palms of a comedian’s hands.

Paper is the setlist medium of choice for Set Unlisted, the show. After each standup set, Long appropriates the setlist, slices it up, and gives its delisted contents to a team of improvisers. The team uses them as prompts for a whole different set of jokes, delivered in improvised scenes. Occasionally, the improvisers find the joke the comedian intended. Since the improv team has been sequestered out of earshot of the standup routine, these congruences can be magical. Only the audience gets them. The joke is on the jokers!

Standup comedians scheduled for Sept. 24 are Rory Monserat, co-host of a weekly open mic at The Loudhouse, Monte Benjamin, the comedian featured in our Aug. 7 column; Nancy Stanley, who organizes the long-standing Estrogen Hour, and several other benefits around Tucson; and Chris Thayer, recently emigrated to Tucson from Los Angeles and featured in our June 15 column.

Long recruited the improvisers from Tucson Improv Movement, where he is a performing member of the company. They are Andrew Hatch of TIM’s premier team The Soapbox, TIM artistic director Daniel Kirby, Esther Brilliant of TIM’s long-running all-female team The Riveters, and geo-scientist Jason Burwell, because improv.

Long says he “fell in love with improv” while watching a friend perform at the UA. He couldn’t make the team, so the friend suggested taking lessons at TIM. The same friend led him into standup comedy. Long says, “Laff’s was the only place I could do standup underage because I could stay in the green room.” That’s where he met Ziemak and they started writing together.

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New TSO Director Kicks Off A New Season

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 7:15 PM

Tucson Symphony Orchestra opens its 2017/2018 season with a program designed by new music director José Luis Gomez.

“All of them, in a way, present me to Tucson,” Gomez said. “It’s like a way of saying, ‘hi, this is me.’”

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Quick Bites: Mister Bing, Milkshakes and Mysteries

Posted By and on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 1:34 PM

Mister Bing’s The Supper Club Experience. Hacienda del Sol hosts international entertainers Jesse and Laura Berger and several other musical guests at this Hollywood-style celebration of the Great American Songbook. A swanky cocktail hour is followed by dinner and show. On the menu? Cesar salad to start, roast branzino or braised short rib for the entree and a s’more cake to finish things off. Sure “The Best Things in Life are Free,” but “You and the Night and the Music” and the food will form the perfect quartet, so perhaps it’s best to just “Pick Yourself Up," give into “Temptation,” and head over to Hacienda del Sol. 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24. Hacienda del Sol, 5501 N. Hacienda Del Sol Road. $75 (plus tax and gratuity).

Flavor by Loews Hotels. Loews Ventana Canyon Resort is now participating in the hotel’s initiative to offer guests lovable local flavors by partnering with the companies behind some of Tucson’s tastiest treats. The hotel will be offering tamales from the Tucson Tamale Company (called “the best tamales in the USA” by Alton Brown of The Food Network), French toast made with bread from Barrio Bread and beer on tap from Dragoon Brewing Company throughout the resort. It’s the perfect place for visiting friends and relatives to stay to get a taste of the city, and many Tusconans will probably now be tempted to stay at the resort themselves. Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 7000 N. Resort Drive.

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The Weekly List: 21 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next 10 Days

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.


Art Now! With Chuck Nanney. Artist Chuck Nanney’s sculptural works from the last three years, which are equal parts minimalist modern and whimsical chic, are showing at MOCA through Oct. 1. For this event, Nanney comes to the museum to talk about his work (which includes sound pieces) nal art lecture format by allowing audiences to engage in discussion about all of the forms that the art of today’s world takes. 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26. MOCA Tucson, 265 S. Church Ave. $10, free for MOCA members.

Diana Madaras Signing Event. It’s hard to believe that calendars for 2018 are already out, but it makes sense, really. After all, 2017 is no spring chicken anymore. Diana Madaras’ 2018 Southwest Art Calendar is out, serving the tri-purpose of helping you keep track of the days, decorate your house and support local art. This week, she’ll even be signing them, so they serve the fourth purpose of showing off your impressive connections in the art world. Also, calendars make fantastic gifts for everyone from your mom to that one coworker you don’t know very well and gave gift cards and lotion to for the past three Christmases. 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21. Madaras Gallery, 3035 N. Swan Road. Free.

Equinox Poetry Chalking. Chalk, meet poetry. You two should have a lot in common, because you’re both versatile, colorful and good at bringing people together. At this Sam Lena-South Tucson Library event, both will be provided for people of all ages to chalk poems in both English and Spanish celebrating the beginning of fall and the beauty of libraries. Feel free to bring a favorite—or original—poem of your own, and to try out some futuristic glitter chalk, and even spray chalk. 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22. Sam Lena-South Tucson Library 1607 S. Sixth Ave. Free.

Music and Theater

The Astronaut Farmworker. Pima Community College’s run of José Cruz González's play inspired by the story of real-life astronaut José Hernández runs through Oct. 1. In the show, Pepito, the son of migrant farmworkers, is struggling to learn English and make friends in his new home. When he watches Apollo 11 land on the moon, he knew from that day forward that he wanted to be an astronaut. A feel-good story about following your dreams and the power of education, it’s a must-see for kids, parents, grandparents and everyone in between. Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. ASL interpreters Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. Scout Theatre Adventure (for girl and boy scouts and their leaders at a discounted price). Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. Through Oct. 1. Proscenium Theatre, 2202 W. Anklam Road. $8 (or $6 for groups of 10 or more)

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Laughing Stock: Crime and Merriment

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Improvisers Rick and Laura Hall, veteran TV actor and long-time Whose Line Is It Anyway accompanist, respectively, and both alumni of The Second City, perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16 at Unscrewed Theatre. - LAURA HALL
  • Laura Hall
  • Improvisers Rick and Laura Hall, veteran TV actor and long-time Whose Line Is It Anyway accompanist, respectively, and both alumni of The Second City, perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16 at Unscrewed Theatre.
Here’s news for fans of NCIS and Whose Line Is It Anyway: Improvisers Laura (WLIIA veteran accompanist) and Rick (TV actor, NCIS 2017 Ep. 1, e.g.; also Curb Your Enthusiasm) Hall team up for two shows at Unscrewed Theatre, 3244 E. Speedway Blvd., at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16. Tickets are $5 at the door, or in advance online.

The show will begin with a set by Unscrewed’s own popular musical improvisers, From the Top, with special guest Rick Hall. Laura will accompany. Then Rick and Laura will improvise a set with the students of an advanced workshop they are giving earlier in the day. Players may include improvisers from Tucson’s more sketch-oriented musical comedy group, Musical Mayhem. Mayhem appears monthly at Unscrewed Theater, rewriting Broadway hits into satire.

“I started in my early 20's in Chicago as a waitress at Second City,” Laura says of her improv career. “That’s 30 years ago!” It was a school job; she was working on a degree in piano, emphasizing composition. "I never really considered doing the music side of improv. But once I was there, I thought, ‘This is really cool! It was cool the way that the musicians functioned with the actors.” Hall went from being a waitress to playing for the Second City touring company, where she met Rick.

“We always had one musician and six actors,” Laura says. “What the musician does is more subliminal. We play transitions, like transitions in a movie that get you from scene to scene. We also play to underscore parts in the scene. There's music playing underneath, but the audience may not even be aware that it's helping shape and underpin the scene.”

That's got to require some pretty intense group mind among the actors and musicians. “They definitely have to be simpatico,” Laura says. “None of us know what we’re doing. We find it together as we go. The timing is what's challenging about it.”

Laura has proven the master of the timing. She accompanied six years of the ABC series Whose Line Is It Anyway with Drew Carey, then toured several more years with Drew Carey and the Improv Allstars. She’s also accompanied recent revivals in London and on the CW.

“People like the energy of musical improv so much,” she says. “You don’t have to be a fabulous singer. What you have to be is committed to it.”

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Making Time: Steff and the Articles Return With Expansive New Pop Album

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Steff and the Articles’ Timekeeper album release
With Birds & Arrows and Infinite Souls
8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15
Club Congress
311 E. Congress St.
$5, 21+

Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years… Time never stops.

For Steff Koeppen, working on a new album with her band the Articles over the last several years, that insistent march of time weighed on her mind, framing her goals as a musician, her relationships and her day-to-day work in a way that brought more focus to everything.

It wasn’t a conscious theme to the album until it became time to shape it all into one whole thing and by that time, the name Timekeeper fit it all perfectly.

“In the past, I’ve always taken a phrase from a lyric in a song to name the album,” she says. “I was trying to do the same thing and I found the word ‘timekeeper.’ It helped me put the songs together, all in a place. For me, even though there’s not a concept that ties these songs together, lyrically it was all during a time just after I graduated college and felt a lot of stress. I felt the anxiety of time pressing down on me and that’s in a few songs. Like I’m my own timekeeper.”

The songs were written over years—with two already released as singles to help promote the band on tours—and sprung from different origins, not meant to offer different perspectives on any one theme. But once they were all collected and titled, Koeppen began to see there was more to unite them than she’d thought.

“I started to look at the songs a little differently,” she says. “There’s my personal disposition, where I was coming from at the time, that was always hanging over the songs.”

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The Weekly List: 21 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next 10 Days

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 9:54 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.


Tucson Analog Hour. How many of us love reading but can’t seem to find a moment to sit down and focus on actually doing it? It’s no fun to admit, but maybe we just don’t have the attention spans that we used to. Between comparing ourselves to others on social media, checking our phones 46 times a day (that’s the American average) and looking up all the coolest things to do in Tucson this week, we’re collectively exhausted. Set aside some time for just you and a book, no phones allowed, and rediscover the joys of reading, or having a conversation without being distracted by your phone, or even playing a board game. 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17. Exo Coffee and Tap & Bottle, 403 N. Sixth Ave. Free.

JA Jance comes to town. The bestselling mystery author’s book tour is hitting Tucson this week, and she’ll be making two local appearances. In the ’60s, Jance was denied entry into UA’s creative writing program because of her gender, but now she's been writing for over three decades. (Take that, patriarchy!) This tour is to promote her new book, "Proof of Life," which brings the character Seattle lawman J.P. Beaumont out of retirement. Saturday Sept. 16, at 5 p.m. at Mostly Books, 6208 E. Speedway Blvd. and Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 5310 E. Broadway Blvd. Free.


Celia, A Slave. The Rogue Theatre brings Tucson this play by Barbara Seyda, winner of the 2015 Yale Drama Series Prize. The haunting story is based on court records from the 1855 case State of Missouri vs. Celia, a Slave, in which a young woman was convicted and hanged for killing her prosperous owner. It brings to light the horrific violence and harsh realities of America less than 200 years ago. Vain Suitt stars as Celia, Cynthia Meier directs and Jake Sorgen does music direction and original composition. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays, plus 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday, Sept. 16 and 23. Through Sept. 24. The Rogue Theatre at The Historic Y, 300 East University Boulevard. $38, or $15 for student rush tickets (15 minutes before curtain call, pending availability).

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Laughing Stock: Ron Reid Teaches Comedy, Jokes Aside.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Ron Reid teaches a comedy course at Laff's over four Tuesdays starting Sept. 12. Visit for more information
  • Ron Reid teaches a comedy course at Laff's over four Tuesdays starting Sept. 12. Visit for more information
“Every teacher that’s taken this class has felt like they're now a better teacher,” says Ron Reid, a professional comedian who’s been teaching his craft for 30 years. He’s just moved his family, and his comedy classes, from Seattle to Tucson. His business, Artists West Management, remains in Los Angeles, booking comedy professionals into clubs and special events.

But better teachers? This is not what we expect to hear when we ask how Reid knows the class is successful. “I've had teenagers. active duty military, shamans, private school teachers, writers, people from law enforcement and people for whom English is not their first language.” Ron says. What they have in common is what he calls “a huge fear factor in speaking in public.”

Several former students eventually became working comedians in the U.S. and Europe. But the core of Reid’s course involves helping students of all sorts to find their comic voice and gain confidence in public speaking.

“Comedy is actually the only performing art that is not collaborative by nature. The way this class works is very simple. People say whatever it is they want to say with the intention of making people laugh. The rest of the people in the group give them some input. And then they do it again. Essentially it becomes a support group and echo chamber and a rehearsal studio.”

The writing is the least of it, though. “I always give my class a quote from (comedian) Bill Burr. He said to concentrate on the performing aspect, and the jokes will come.

“The emphasis I put in this class is on performance There's plenty of opportunity for folks to learn how to write jokes. There are workbooks. You fill in the blanks. But there is almost no opportunity to learn how to perform standup comedy. It's at least 50 percent performance and less than 50 percent content.”

Perhaps the longest-lasting benefit is the bond. “I make friends. Everybody makes friends. It's a bonding experience for the people who take these classes. Some of them have gone on and had great success, and others have never done it ever again. They all stay friends.”

Reid presents his class in collaboration with Laff’s Comedy Caffe, 2900 E. Broadway, over four consecutive Tuesdays beginning Sept. 12. The fourth class is a performance in front of an audience. Reservations for the $150 course are via

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Staff Pick

Jurassic Park

This pulse-pounding thrill-ride that made the whole world go dino-crazy scaring the living beejeesus out of moviegoers… More

@ Loft Cinema Fri., Oct. 20, 10-11:45 p.m. and Sat., Oct. 21, 10-11:45 p.m. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

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