Fun in General

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Laughing Stock: The Sound of Music

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 9:14 AM

Neil Hamburger is a mess, a joke and a very smart guy. - SIMONE TURKINGTON
  • Simone Turkington
  • Neil Hamburger is a mess, a joke and a very smart guy.

Comedy so outsider it’s insider

Neil Hamburger is an awful comedian. His affect is palpably awkward. A Sartorial disaster, his clothes look like Goodwill rejects from the sixties. His hair needs a hot bath. His singing is like Leonard Cohen’s as it might sound in The Upside Down, which is to say it’s near perfect in spite of itself.

As colorful and character-drenched as his most obvious features are, they say little about the man. They provide cerebrally irreverent Gregg Turkington with cover for his subversive take on contemporary culture and values. If you don’t laugh at your life, you’re not listening. “Some might say this is a lowbrow show,” Turkington says. “but when I’m making doo doo jokes or jokes about Elton John, it's all in service of, you know, making larger points.”

He acknowledges that his Hamburger character requires a little more intellectual commitment than the average club comic. But his fans also expect more music. Turkington’s been recording for Drag City’s venerable indie record label for more than twenty years, from the moment he overthrew youthful punk immersion for fanzine-level commitment to deeply sincere emotional expression and top shelf musicianship.

“It’s got nothing to say,” says Turkington of current punk music. Perhaps it’s enough to say it’s just another genre, now. “I feel like punk became more regimented than just about any other style of music. Now, my favorite stuff to listen to is really well-produced pop records from the sixties. I just want something with some personality.”

Hamburger’s musical performance owes roughly 20% to Tiny Tim and another 20% to Steve Allen. The music, though, is splendid. Drag City, released his 12th record, Still Dwelling, a year ago in all formats. It inspired half a dozen visual artists around the world to create videos for it; four are now available online, including one animation and a puppet show.

“When Still Dwelling came out, people said the music is incredible because of the musicianship,” Turkington says, Songs include compositions by Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Mark Eitzel and Nancy Wilson. Instruments include a sitar, a saw and a clarinet. Jack Black contributes vocals.
“But I’ve got people saying, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know about the vocals.’ I’m thinking 95% of the songs on the charts are autotuned. That sounds like robotic voices.” No one would confuse Turkington or and Hamburger with robots, though. In fact, they are sui generis.

Turkington appears as Hamburger at 191 Toole on Friday, Jan. 17. Tickets are $20 and $25, including fees, at rialtotheatre.com

Funnier than he looks

John Green was named “Best of the Fest” at the Burbank comedy festival, no mean feat in metropolitan area where you can’t swing a blunt without a half-dozen comics taking a hit.
Green was a long time coming back to his childhood dream of standup notoriety. He studied music through school, then trod the path to success as a Phoenix-area businessman. In his ‘30s, he fell in love with improv. First as a fan, then as a talented improviser, he honed the skills and, even more, the confidence to face an audience alone, even with what he calls his “resting murder face”.

Now Green’s set occasionally includes a song improvised at an audience member’s request to embarrass their friend or mate. Mainly, though, Green’s comedy backbone is good, clean fun. He says in his bio, “There seems to be a stigma about calling yourself a ‘clean’ comic, almost like you’re not a true artist. My only mission with comedy is to make people laugh and feel good about laughing.”

Green is featured at The O at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18. Reservations are $7, $5 in advance via Eventbrite.

MLK Weekend reminder

John Roy’s Jesuit father and psychotherapist mom may have had higher aspirations for him than to be a standup comedian. Alas for them, he absorbed the influence of their diverse, artsy and gritty Rogers Park, Chicago, neighborhood. It gave him the breezy confidence and wide-ranging comic flair that made him champion of CBS’s 2003 Star Search and led to appearances on The Tonight Show, Craig Ferguson, Last Comic Standing and Conan. He’s also performed regularly on cable network TV, independent comedy shows and satellite radio via his record, Dressed for Recess.”

Roy appears at Laffs Comedy Caffe on Friday at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Saturday at 7 and 9:30 p.m., And Sunday at 7 p.m. Reservations are $12.50 and $17.50 via laffstucson.com.

More Laughs!

Friday, Jan. 17, long-form improv with TIM Teachers Lounge and The Flower Boys at 7:30 p.m. ($5,) and The Soapbox featuring Bryan Sanders (flag shirt guy)($7) at 9 p.m., at Tucson Improv Movement (TIM) (both shows $10). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., Unscrewed Theatre ($5 kids and $8 adults).

Saturday, Jan. 18, Improv with The Ugly Sweater Show and Harold Alpha at 7:30 p.m., and another Ugly Sweater Show with The Dating Scene at 9 p.m., TIM ($5). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., and Unscrewed Double Feature at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8)

Monday, Jan. 20, standup showcase Brew Ha Ha features Leland Long, Jimmy Callaway, Monte Benjamin and Stephanie Lyonga at Borderlands Brewing at 8 p.m., $5.

Wednesday, Jan. 22, standup with Tom Briscoe at the Desert View Performing Arts Center at 7P30 p.m. ($22)

Thursday, Jan. 23, standup showcase Casa de Comedy is at Casa Marana at 8 p.m., free.

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Jan. 19, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Jan. 20, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Jan. 21, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy at The Music Box Lounge.
Weds, Jan. 22, 7 p.m., The Screening Room
Thursday, Jan. 23, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Laughing Stock: Fringy, sketchy and forward-looking

Posted By on Thu, Jan 9, 2020 at 1:00 AM

Are the Cosmonauts fighting over who will ride shotgun on the drive from Phoenix to the Tucson Fringe Festival? - THE COSMONAUTS ON FACEBOOK
  • The Cosmonauts on Facebook
  • Are the Cosmonauts fighting over who will ride shotgun on the drive from Phoenix to the Tucson Fringe Festival?
Funny at the Fringe

By definition, Fringe Fest performers don’t fit any category, but many of them are comedy acts, and this year’s Tucson Fringe Festival, January 9 through 11, features more than most.

“There's so much comedy!!!” fest honcho Maryann Green texted us. "’<=2’, (less than or equal to two) is sketch comedy from the directors of the Elgin Fringe Festival. 'How To Contract Lycanthropy' is dry humor from award-winning Minneapolis Fringe Festival artist Matthew Kessen. 'Sexology the Musical' promises to be a rockin’ good time.” And Green is just getting started.

Tucson Fringe Fest is popular for a wide range of great, little-known talent. Green and her team see, screen and invite plenty of fringe acts they know will find a Tucson audience. But their strategy of short shows and low prices all but guarantees a good time. If you don’t love the show you’re seeing, there’s another within the hour that could blow you away.

Admission to the fest is $3 for a button. Shows are $10 each, but passes are available for two, five or eight shows each for $18 to $64. Tickets and details of all the shows are at shop.tucsonfringe.org.

Twenty-two shows will be performed more than 50 times in five venues that are less than a mile apart downtown. They include The Screening Room, Steinfeld Warehouse, StudioONE, the Cabaret Theatre at the Temple of Music and Art and The Circus Academy.

Much excitement around this year’s fest is about the 16 acts appearing for the first time, including Phoenix sketch comedy team The Cosmonauts. The eight-year-old ensemble has performed in multiple festivals. They suggest that the audience think of them “like Saturday Night Live, but R-rated”

Green continues, “Space Force is a political farce.” And then she touches on the one we want to see most: “‘Silly Woman’ is about two young comedians discovering the comedy genius of funny females of the past, like Phyllis Diller and Lucille Ball. ‘Tammy's Bachelorette’ is an interactive comedy romp through a ‘Whiskey Tango’ wedding.” We think she means “white trash,” but she wouldn’t ever punch down.

“(Longtime local favorite) Tom Potter is doing a set he calls ‘The History of American Musical Humor’," she says, comparing him, a little hesitantly, to Dr. Demento. We get that one! He’ll have funny lyrics to songs we recognize.

"’What Will You’, Green says,"is a modern queer take on Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night, and, finally, ‘You've Got To Be Kidding Me’ is a live comedy podcast about carrying the emotional baggage of childhood."

If you’re reading this on Thursday, you can head over to Café Passé for a preview party from 6 to 9 p.m. Fest acts perform two-minute samples of their sets, and audience members win raffles and prizes.

Martin Luther King Day weekend

There is so much comedy headed your way, you should just block out the next two weekends. Upcoming we have an impossible choice among three top comedians plus the usual great improv shows. And from Jan. 25 through Feb. 1, every night has at least one and up to eight shows for the Tucson Comedy Crawl. It’s more than two-dozen shows, produced by and with members of Tucson’s burgeoning comedy scene, and it’s all sponsored by Tucson Weekly and Tucson Local Media.

Here’s a head start on next weekend, though, with comedy booked especially for Martin Luther King Weekend.

Matt Kearney’s LOL Jam returns to The Viscount Suites at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18. Tickets are $15, or $20 for VIP seating, via grownsexy.ticketleap.com. Rob Rodriguez hosts, reminding us once again that we don't see him often enough in Tucson. The Lineup includes BET Allstar Drew Frazer, Kool Bubba Ice and local newcomer Janize.

Laffs Comedy Caffé hosts Jon Roy for five shows the same weekend. Clever and clean, with a megawatt resume, Roy riffs like a funny best friend on cultural anomalies, dilemmas of childhood, racial tolerance and the chaos that is contemporary media. His jokes can land with impressions or inspire a song. Jimmy Calloway features. Details and tickets are at laffstucson.com/coming-soon.html.

More Comedy

Friday, Jan. 10: Standup with Tyler Boeh featuring Jeff Horste at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv Happy Hour at 7:30 p.m. ($5) and The Soapbox at 9 p.m. ($7) at TIM Comedy Theatre (TIM)($10 for both shows. All shows $2 off with Cat Card). 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, Jan. 11: Standup with Phoenix prop comedian, Dan Hanson, featuring local favorite Josiah Osego opening and Nick Chant as host at 8 p.m., The O ($7 door; $10 Eventbrite. Tyler Boeh featuring Jeff Horste at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Kids improv, F.O.M.P. (Friends of Make Pretends) at 2 p.m. at TIM Comedy Theatre ($5) Improv at 7:30 and 9 p.m. at TIM ($7, both shows for $10, $2 off with Cat Card). Improv with Unscrewed Family Hour at 6 p.m., Family Friendly NBOJU at 7:30 p.m., and NBOJU: Uncensored at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Jan. 14, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy, The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., The Screening Room and 8:30 p.m., The Mint.
Thursday, Jan 16. 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Laughing Stock: Laugh this year outta here!

Posted By on Thu, Dec 26, 2019 at 12:05 PM

Ron Feingold is a one-man musical comedy, standup pro and New Year’s Eve party at Laff’s Comedy Caffe. - RON FEINGOLD
  • Ron Feingold
  • Ron Feingold is a one-man musical comedy, standup pro and New Year’s Eve party at Laff’s Comedy Caffe.
Most funny for your money

Laff’s Comedy Caffe is the place for the that New Year’s date: fancy dinner, champagne and a show to help count down the old year, then home in time to cuddle up and watch the fireworks around the world. Or hit the late show for champagne and sweets with your sweetie. Or your Meetup Group or your homies or BFFs. Entertainer Ron Feingold couldn’t be a better choice for an evening everybody wants to leave happy.

A Feingold show is literally all things to all people. He has movie-star looks and swagger but can sing like Kermit the Frog with a vocal technique that makes it sound like a duet. All his impressions are spot on, and his observations craftily twisted.

He can mix things up with intelligent innuendo and a remarkably sophisticated dick joke, when the occasion permits. His website includes clips of his original songs, F-You Button and Prostate. And yet, his career cornerstone is as a comedian and emcee for squeaky clean conference formats. He also offers his own conference presentation, The Power of the Smile, which combines his music and comedy with an almost scholarly grasp of how smiling affects life and work.

Feingold has been acting since he was 10, mostly in musical comedies. By the time he was in college, he was leveraging his comedy theatre experience into a standup career. He became a licensed pilot and earned a psychology degree, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. His life since then has been a steady stream of comedy clubs, cruise ships and corporate events.

Showtimes are 7:30 for the dinner show and 9 p.m. for the dessert bar. Admission is $30 plus drinks, tax and gratuities. Visit laffstucson.com/newyears or call for information and reservations.

TIM’s Year-End Laugh Out

Wear your ugly holiday sweater one last time at Tucson Improv Movement on New Year’s Eve. It’s good for $1 off beer, wine and White Claw all night, and the theater has stocked champagne for the occasion.

TIM’s intimate, 45-seat theater can be cozy like a party with friends. Its New Year’s events have sold out in years past. Tickets are $10 for two shows, 7:30 and 9 p.m., or $7 each. Advance reservations are via squareup.com or tucsonimprov.com.

The evening’s entertainment, New Year, Who ‘Dis, features a 7:30 extravaganza of 16 ugly-sweater-clad, top TIM improvisers playing for audience interaction and laughs-per-minute. At 9 p.m., TIM’s premier team, The Soapbox, will riff on stories told by five of the most popular monologists who performed with them in 2019.

To help give the year a laugh-loaded send-off, the team welcomes back TIM member and producer of Keep Tucson Sketchy Rich Gary, Unscrewed Theatre member and standup comedian Allana Erickson-Lopez, fashion designer Carmen Melero, founder of the Tucson Fringe Festival Maryann Green and journalist, crime reporter and author, AJ Flick.

Last laughs for 2019 at Hotel McCoy


Hotel McCoy’s popular free monthly comedy showcase, Last Friday, Last Laughs, wraps up its first year with a great local lineup from 8 to 9:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27. Full houses have been the rule lately, so plan to arrive early for seating. Pinche’s food truck will be on hand for dinner.

The lineup includes Autumn Horvat, Kev Lee, Dom DiTolla, David Ross, Eli Turner, Paul Fox, Andrea Salazar and Monte Benjamin. Visiting former Tucsonan Noah Copfer rounds out the bill. Copfer now plies his comedy and acting skills in L.A., but apparently returns for holidays. He also stopped in for The Mint open mic over Thanksgiving weekend.

After the show at Hotel McCoy, you can head on over to SkyBar for …

What Really Happened?

Josiah Osego and Alex Kack return to SkyBar for another edition of What Really Happened from 9:30 to 11 p.m., Friday, December 27. The original show invites standup comedians to tell five short stories each, and then let the audience decide which one is not true. Winning audience members get prizes and discounts with their bragging rights.

This month’s comedians include Bisbee comic and open mic host Maggie O’Shea, newcomer Abigail Chesney and up and comers Jesus Otamendi, Tim Maggard and Nick Chant.

Even More Laughs


Friday, Dec. 27, Standup with Ron Feingold at 8 and 10:30 p.m. ($12.50 and $17.50), Laffs Comedy Caffe. Improv with The Riveters, Portmansplain and Choice Cut at 7:30 p.m., and The Soapbox at 9 p.m. ($5), Tucson Improv Movement (TIM). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. ($5 and $8) and Free Form Friday Fight Night, 9 p.m.(free), Unscrewed Theater.

Saturday, Dec. 28, Standup with Ron Feingold at 7 and 9:30 p.m. ($12.50 and $17.50), Laffs Comedy Caffe, and comedian-magician Rod Wayne at 8 p.m. ($10 via Eventbrite, $15 at the door), The O. Improv with Laugh Tracks and The Game Show Show at 7:30 p.m., and The Dating Scene and Pilot Season at 9 p.m. ($5) TIM. Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. Uncensored improv with NBOJU at 9 p.m. ($5 and $8), Unscrewed Theater.

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Dec. 29, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 7 p.m., The Screening Room.
Thursday, Jan. 2, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe, and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Laughing Stock: Quality Comedy Week!

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Kristine Levine is the frosting and the cake at Brew Ha Ha’s 4th Anniversary show, Friday, Dec. 20 at Borderlands Brewing. - JIMI GIANNATTI
  • Jimi Giannatti
  • Kristine Levine is the frosting and the cake at Brew Ha Ha’s 4th Anniversary show, Friday, Dec. 20 at Borderlands Brewing.
Kristine Levine heads up an anniversary bash

Almost any comedy club in the country would welcome the lineup for Brew Ha Ha’s fourth-anniversary show. Kristine Levine headlines a bill that includes Jamie Kilstein, who just co-headlined with Ian Harris at 191 Toole; perennially popular regional headliner Pauly Casillas; and Michael Longfellow, who headlines at The O on Tuesday, December 21.

After four years of getting better almost monthly, Tucson’s longest-running independent comedy show is also its best value. Incredibly, tickets are still just $5. The celebration is at 8 p.m., Friday, December 20 at Borderlands Brewery. Make reservations on squareup.com or pay at the door. Dogs are always welcome.

According to her biography at kristinelevine.com, “Kristine is best known for her role on the hit Netflix series Portlandia, and her starring role in the recently re-released film, 'The Unbookables'."
The Unbookables, produced by comedian Doug Stanhope, introduced the world to what’s been called The Doug Stanhope Family. Often recognized as one of America’s top comedians, Stanhope is cursed, or blessed, with a blazing intellect and unique cultural fluency in the midnight realms of human opportunity.

For The Unbookables, first released in 2012, Stanhope loaded an unreliable van with hand-picked acolytes and dispatched them on a tour of sleazy midwestern comedy clubs. The results, hilarious, provocative and defiant, were re-released last year on Amazon Prime Video.

Levine also appeared in Welcome to Bridgetown, a documentary about the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, starring Patton Oswalt; Stanhope’s TV special documentary, Beer Hall Putsch; and the TV series, Permanent Comedy with Todd Armstrong.

In 2018 she released a popular recording of her explicit spoken word and comedy performance, “Hey Sailor,” on the Stand Up! Records label. It’s available via Amazon.com Music and other online outlets.

Levine’s comedy endearingly and alarmingly revolves around more than a decade working in a porn store and raising three children. By all accounts, she did an exceptional job at both.

Since moving from her Portland home town, she has become a local standup icon and radio star in Tucson, co-hosting The Frank Show on 96.1 KLPX from 6 to 10 a.m., weekdays. The show can be heard streaming live at klpx.com.

Her bio says it best, “A mother of three, married four times, with stories of love, disaster and 14 years clerking in a porn store, this woman has lived to see it all.” She also is the first female comedian to have toured all 50 states.

Casillas is the only local in the lineup. He’s the devoted, hometown-bound dad of two very young daughters. The nationwide popularity of his Twitter account launched him into standup when his wife was pregnant with their first daughter. His stage range has since extended primarily to Phoenix, where he is as popular as he is here. He founded The Switch, a combination improv, and standup show, that still runs at The Hut, hosted by Matt Ziemak. Casillas now hosts it periodically in Phoenix’s trendy Crescent Ballroom.

We wrote about new Tucsonan-via-Los Angeles Jamie Kilstein last week when he co-headlined with Ian Harris at 191 Toole. It was a festival of nerdish comedy and the people who love it. Kilstein’s laugh lines come in a rush of bemusement about paradoxes the rest of us take for granted.

A late addition to the bill is Michael Longfellow, about whom you’ll find more, below. He also headlines at The O on Saturday, December 21.

Michael Longfellow at The O

At the age of 25, Michael Longfellow has a solid grounding for a successful comedy career. He's placed second in Atlanta’s storied Laughing Skull Comedy Festival. He also has performed on Conan and was tapped by Turner Broadcasting (TBS) as one of its Comics to Watch. Fans now can follow him on Hidden America with Jonah Ray and Bring The Funny on NBC.

It just shows how far good looks, ambition, talent and hard work can take some people. Longfellow started comedy and college at the same time in his home town of Phoenix. He performed regularly at the Tempe Improv and Stand Up Live. Importantly, he also helped run The Big Pine Comedy Festival in Flagstaff, where he met comedians and producers from all over the country.

Longfellow headlines at The O at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 21. Reservations are $7 via Eventbrite and $10 at the door. The club has a two-drink minimum. The O encourages audience members to enjoy its new, free after-show tradition of karaoke with the comedians.

More Laughs!

Friday, Dec. 20, Standup with Michael Malone, 8 and 10:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50) and Beginners and Veterans Comedy at 10:30 p.m. at Tucson Improv Movement (TIM)($5) Long-form improv with Choice Cut, Improv 401 and Como Se Dice at 7:30 p.m. and The Soapbox at 9 p.m., at Tucson Improv Movement (TIM) ($5). Family-friendly improv with Completely Unscrewed (NBOJU full cast) at 7:30 p.m., Unscrewed Theatre ($5 and $8).

Saturday, Dec. 21: Standup with Michael Malone at 7 and 9:30 p.m., at Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with The Ugly Sweater Show and Harold Alpha at 7:30 p.m., and another Ugly Sweater Show with The Dating Scene at 9 p.m., TIM ($5). Family-friendly improv with Elves Gone Bad: A Pirate’s Christmas at 1 p.m., Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., and Unscrewed Double Feature at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8)

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Dec. 22, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Dec. 23, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Dec. 24, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy at The Music Box Lounge.
Thursday, Dec. 26, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Laughing Stock: Punch Lines

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Giving a whole new meaning to punch line

“I feel like, as opposed to LA, everyone in Arizona can actually defend me in a fight,” says comedian Jamie Kilstein. He likes it here. That’s a lucky thing because five months ago he moved here on a whim. “I have actually grown more (here) artistically than in my life in L.A. and New York,” he says.

Not that those great comedy cities treated him badly. He debuted on Conan. He’s been on MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Showtime, The Joe Rogan Experience and BBC America. He launched two podcasts, and he earned a national reputation for smart, edgy political comedy, joking about arcana that actually matters. He’s lately joking about other facts of life, but all the high-speed punches arise from the same energy.

Kilstein performs with fellow cult favorite Ian Harris and Albuquerque up and comer Ron Swallow at 8 p.m. Sunday, December 15 at 191 Toole.

Kilstein and Harris became friends in Los Angeles. “We kind of clicked because we both have political material. Oddly enough, we also train and coach Mixed Martial Arts.

“I think people who fight oftentimes don’t have much of an ego because we get our ass kicked a lot,” he says. “So, the idea of splitting a bill was more exciting to us. I just want to make art with people I like.”

Ian Harris started both fighting and doing impressions at age 6, inspired by the movie, Rocky. “As a kid I’d watch all the boxing matches,” Harris says, “and I would do all the play by plays and the interviews after the fight for my parents. I would be Muhammed Ali being interviewed by Howard Cosell.”
He says his whole family were really funny, so it’s not surprising that he would find jokes everywhere, even in taboo subjects. “I can’t avoid it. Even on accident I talk about religion or politics. Those are the things that interest me. Bur I personally steer away from (drug humor). I don’t do a lot of alcohol or relationships.” Nor do either he or Kilstein do jokes about martial arts.

“I think a lot of my stuff comes from a very nerdy kind of scientific background,” Harris says. “Like ‘Look at these weird beliefs. Conspiracy theories, religion, and why do we believe in these things when the evidence so clearly is the other way.”

Of the show, he says, “It’s going to be nerdy and edgy. I think it’s going to be really fun.” Tickets are $12 and $15 via Rialtotheatre.com. Doors open at 7.

Mega Lineup at Casa Marana

Dave Margolis presents a blockbuster lineup at the December 12 edition of his free semi-monthly Casa de Comedy Show at Casa Marana. Featured are Andrea Salazar, Nick Chant, Dominic DiTolla, Ashley Anna Tappan, Stephanie Lyonga, Monte Benjamin Roxy Merrari and Charles Ludwig. Most have headlined bigger shows in Tucson. Hear Margolis co-hosting the weekly Is This On comedy radio show at 9 p.m. Wednesdays at xerocraft.org/listen.php .

Applause for the Paws!

Sarah Kennedy headlines at The O to benefit the Humane Society of Southern Arizona at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13. A 6:30 cocktail hour features an adoption event to make the day a lucky one for some shelter pets.

Kennedy started performing comedy in 2009 a few blocks from her Albuquerque home. After producing many shows, and sweeping her hometown papers’ Best Comedian awards, she left for the bright lights of NYC.

There, she appeared on the Today Show and MTV, wrote for The Advocate and Reductress and was a finalist in a national, NBC Stand-Up for Diversity competition.

Now back in Albuquerque she’s been a welcome guest on Tucson stages. Also performing are a hometown favorite drag queen, Miss Nature, and Autumn Horvat, creator and host of Comedians Who Aren’t Men. Eli Turner hosts. Tickets are $10 via support.hssaz.org/event/applause-for-paws/e255190.

Free Centenary Retro Game Show!

The longest-running live show in Tucson just keeps growing as its lascivious send-ups of mid-century TV game shows pack trendy Club Congress month after month.

The ensemble’s 100th show, and 8th-year anniversary, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, welcomes back six popular “celebrity guests” from shows gone by to play an anniversary round of The Mismatch Game. The towering and authoritative host Chatty Kathee presides with her sassy executive assistant Swish Marley.

To celebrate, the show is free with a donation to Toys for Tots. Seating is first come, first served, and there will be no splash zone.

The Pirates Who (almost) Stole Christmas

Kids from the audience help improvise the storyline of Elves Gone Bad: A Pirate’s Christmas at 1 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, through December 22. Reservations are $5 at unscrewedtheater.org/events/

The story is that Santa and the missus have retired to Tucson, leaving the North Pole elves unemployed. What with the melting Polar Ice Cap, apparently, an evil pirate captain sails to Santa’s workshop to recruit the elves as pirates. Pirates, of course, steal presents instead of giving them. Mayhem ensues, and only audience members can put things back right, somehow.

We think all the elves and reindeer should move to Tucson, form a union and put Jeff Bezos out of business. How about you?

Lots More Comedy

Friday, Dec. 13: Standup with Keith Carey featuring Matt Holt at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Beefeaters and Improv 501 Showcase at 7:30 p.m. and The Soapbox at 9 p.m. at TIM Comedy Theatre (TIM)($5). Improv Blox student showcase at 6 p.m., 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). Burlesque with The Manly Manlesque Show: Silent Night, Deadly Night at 10 p.m., Surly Wench Pub ($10 to $20)

Saturday, Dec. 14: Kids improv, F.O.M.P. (Friends of Make Pretends) at 2 p.m. at TIM Comedy Theatre ($5) Standup with Keith Carey featuring Matt Holt at 7 and 9:30 p.m., at Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with the Ugly Sweater Show and Harold Omega at 7:30 p.m., and The Family of Things and The Dating Scene at 9 p.m. at TIM ($5). Family-friendly Elves Gone Bad: A Pirate’s Christmas at 1 p.m., Unscrewed Family Hour at 6 p.m., and NBOJU: Uncensored at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).

Free Open Mics

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

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Laughing Stock: We need clones

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 1:00 AM

This is black belt comic Anna Valenzuela who’s performing at The O on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the same time Cristel Alonzo is performing at the Rialto. We need clones. - ANNAVALENZUELA.COM
  • annavalenzuela.com
  • This is black belt comic Anna Valenzuela who’s performing at The O on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the same time Cristel Alonzo is performing at the Rialto. We need clones.
CBCTAC presents Anna Valenzuela

“Latinas make 54 cents to every white male dollar, which is why I have to take a roll of toilet paper from every business I enter for rest of my life.”

So tweeted Anna Valenzuela recently, making us spew our coffee while holding up a mirror to the privilege in our white feminism. We can expect a whole set of such darkly colorful insights, delivered with authentic warmth and much laughter, at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 7 at The O. Tickets are $5 via Eventbrite.

A legit black belt in karate, Valenzuela slayed the field with snaps on a recent Comedy Central Roast Battle. She appears regularly at the Comedy Store and The Improv and was a favorite at Second City’s Los Angeles Diversity in Comedy Festival. She also hosts two podcasts: 12 Questions, an in-depth look at sobriety, and Bruja-ja, where three Latinas dish on all things Latinx.

A Los Angelean, Valenzuela will be the first touring headliner featured in the cheekily titled comedy show series Cunts Being Cunts Taking About Cunts. Organizers Mo Urban and Steena Salido have lately shortened it to CBCTAC in print, presumably for convenience, because: Why else?

The show opens with an improv set by AllReddy, comprising Allana Erickson-Lopez of Unscrewed Theatre and Katherine Morter. The lineup also includes Phoenician Alice Valpey and Tucson comics Andrea Salazar, Chinna Garza, Em Bowen and Kathie Hedrick.

As at every CBCTAC show, feminine hygiene products will be collected for Project Period, a program of the YWCA of Southern Arizona.

Cristela Alonzo visits with her idol, Dolores Huerta - CRISTELAALONZO
  • cristelaalonzo
  • Cristela Alonzo visits with her idol, Dolores Huerta
Cristela Alonzo: My Affordable Care Act

Cristela Alonza performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 7, at the Rialto Theatre. Tickets are $19 to $36 at rialtotheatre.com.

Alonzo is comedy’s answer to Dolores Huerta, her idol. Her website, cristelaalonzo.com, devotes as much space to her causes as to her comedy. She writes, “I am a first-generation American born to an undocumented mother that taught me to love this country. I believe it is my duty to give back and fight so that everyone can get the same thing my family got: a chance.”

And then she quotes Huerta. “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”

Alonzo created her own bully pulpit five years ago with Cristela, a network sitcom that she wrote, produced and starred in herself. Soon after, she began guest-hosting the daytime roundtable show, The View. In 2017, she became the first Latina lead in a Pixar film, voicing the part of Cruz Ramirez in Cars 3. Lower Classy, her first standup special, is streaming on Netflix.

Last month a Simon & Shuster imprint published her book, Music to My Years: A Mixtape Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. The stories reveal her vulnerability and her challenges, like the tap shoes she made for herself with bottle caps, and how standup comedy helped her process her grief when her mother died.

When not doing comedy, Alonzo devotes her time to activism around immigration, universal healthcare, social justice, HIV AIDS awareness and prevention, reproductive rights, Special Olympics and LUPE, La Union del Pueblo Entero, founded by Huerta with César Chávez. She’s on their board.

From the struggles she sees in others and in her own life, Alonzo crafts comedy that welcomes us into her world with the light of her humanity.

Mishka Shubaly at The Wench

Comedy at the Wench breaks its open-mic format at 7 p.m. Monday, December 9, to bring us comedian and pan-genius Mishka Shubaly.

Best known as a writer and musician, Shubaly has the wits and the wit to have turned a self-made disaster of a life into a livelihood. His childhood broke his heart, youth was a struggle and he was an alcoholic by the time he graduated college at 15. Yet at 22, he received the Dean’s Fellowship from the Master’s Writing Program at Columbia.

A dissolute life ensued, yielding six record albums, one with Brooklyn’s goth, post-punk band, Freshkills. Shubaly’s six Kindle Singles all have been best sellers. In 2016, Public Affairs published his memoir, I Swear I’ll Make It Up To You: A Life on the Low Road. He also teaches writing at the Yale Writers Conference. Luckily, he got sober at 32, inspired by marathon running.

The Wench show also features Jake Flores. Not to be reductive but we’re running out of space. Flores’ website URL says it all: feraljokes.com Reservations are $5, or $10 for preferred seating in the show room. These special shows at The Surly Wench have been selling out, so we recommend reservations via donate@wenchcomedy.com on PayPal or @wenchcomedy on Venmo.

Arroyo Café Radio

David Fitzsimmons is having a busy weekend. Last week we wrote about his project for fellow old folks, Still Standing up. Featuring five comedians over 60, the show makes fun of things only old people know about. Take that, millennial smarty-pantses.

To recap, Still Standing Up is at 6 p.m., Sunday, December 8, at Laffs Comedy Caffe. Reservations are $10 via Eventbrite.com.

On December 7, though, at 1 p.m., Fitzsimmons hosts another epic production of his annual Arroyo Café Holiday Radio Show at the Rialto Theatre. More than 20 local celebrities perform a loosely scripted radio play around musical guests and other entertainments and surprises, Including Wilbur Wildcat.

It’s all staged in an old-time radio show format with an iconic reconstruction of a ‘40s microphone. Comedians in the cast include KXCI’s Bridgitte Thum, Mike Sterner, Josiah Osego, Elliot Glicksman, Jay Taylor, Priscilla Fernandez, David Membrila and Bobby Rich. Tickets are $20 via Eventbrite.com. Proceeds benefit three local organizations that help immigrants and Arizona Public Media, which broadcasts the show on Christmas Eve.

Lots More Comedy

Friday, Dec. 6: Standup with Geoff Asmus featuring Brian Mollica at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Improv 201 and 301 Student showcases at 7:30 p.m. and The Soapbox featuring rugby captain Kristin Pope at 9 p.m. at TIM Comedy Theatre (TIM)($5). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).
Saturday, Dec. 7: Standup with Michael Carbonara at 7 p.m. at Desert Diamond Casino ($27.50 to $47.50) Geoff Asmus featuring Brian Mollica at 7 and 9:30 p.m., at Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Ugly Sweater Improv and Pilot Season at 7:30 p.m., and the 101 Student Showcase and The Dating Scene at 9 p.m. at TIM ($5). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. and musical improv with From the Top at 9 p.m. at Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).
Monday, Dec. 9: Standup with John Waters at 8 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre ($33 to $110) and Mishka Shubaly with Jake Flores at The Surly Wench.

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Dec. 10, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy at The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m., The Screening Room and 8:30 p.m. at The Mint.
Thursday, Dec.12, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

The Great Cover Up 2019 Lineup Announced!

Posted By on Mon, Nov 25, 2019 at 2:27 PM

The Great Cover Up recently announced their 2019 lineup, featuring 26 Tucson-based bands performing over the course of three nights at 191 Toole and Club Congress. While it’s always a secret which local bands are covering which international acts, we do know each list:


The artists being covered: The Pixies, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sex Pistols, Neil Young, The Doors, CCR, Janis Joplin, Daniel Johnston, Guns & Roses, The Clash, Lana Del Rey and many more.


The local artists performing: Taco Sauce, Miss Olivia & The Interlopers, Little Cloud, The Bennu, Eric Schaffer & The Other Troublemakers, Nick Prevenas, Mr. Manager and more.


For those not in the know, The Great Cover Up is a local music festival where local bands cover big-name acts. For years, The Great Cover Up has grown into a Tucson staple, and now some participating bands even dress up in costumes and include stage props along with their cover music. And even better, all proceeds from the event will be donated to a designated nonprofit. (This year’s beneficiary is 91.3 FM KXCI.)


The Great Cover Up 2019 runs from Thursday, Dec. 12 to Saturday, Dec. 14. Doors open at 6 p.m. each night, music starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 for one night, $12 for two, $15 for all three.


Dec. 12 @ 191 Toole / Dec. 13 @ Club Congress / Dec. 14 @ 191 Toole.

75429339_2814620611905461_1658013841914593280_o.jpg

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Laughing Stock: O what fun!

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Rod Housley magically turns mystery into comedy at the O. - ROD WAYNE HOUSLEY ON FACEBOOK
  • Rod Wayne Housley on Facebook
  • Rod Housley magically turns mystery into comedy at the O.
Comedy magic for grownups

Forget Houdini. Magic doesn’t have to be about dark and dangerous arts. As Rod Housley tells it, all magic is about fooling people. He believes that fooling people should be fun to watch, and even more fun to be fooled.

Housley has entertained thousands at conventions and special events over the more than 20 years he’s performed as a professional magician around the country. He’s also won more than 20 awards in magic including Arizona’s Close-up Magician of the Year, Arizona’s Stage Magician of the Year, and the People’s Choice Award.

He will treat Tucson comedy fans to two unusually intimate club performances at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23 at The O. Reservations are $10 and $15 via intimatewonders.wellattended.com.

Housley began creating comedy magic as a child to cope with his sister’s death. “I kind of became the entertainer in my family,” he says. “Magic does the same thing comedy does. Telling a joke, there’s usually a left turn where you don't see it coming. It makes your brain fire in a new place. Magic creates that wonder. When you see something (surprising), people automatically laugh.”

Asked what makes him a magician's magician, Housley says his technique is like that of a standup comedian justifying the payoff to a joke. “I create a ‘why’ for every trick. Most magicians just do a trick and then they do another trick.

“I might do the trick a thousand times and then, suddenly, I'm like, ‘Oh! That's how I should present that. That will resonate with the audience’.

“I try to create magic that leaves the audience in a better place, where anything's possible and things are amazing and you're allowed to laugh. That's the childlike state of wonder that I think magic can create.”

Dreading Thanksgiving dinner?

The O’s Pre-Thanksgiving Extravaganza on Wednesday, Nov. 27 has some potential to stuff you with enough comedy that your uncle’s politics won’t give you indigestion. It’s worth a try.

Stephanie Lyonga lights up the lineup with electric energy and language unfit for reverent family holidays. Bilingual comedians Andrea Salazar and Tony Kanani Bruhn perform in English but make audience members feel at home in either language. Rounding out the show are Daryl Graves and two popular Phoenix comics, Glendon McGee and Derek McFarland.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $5 at the door.

What are you doing New Year’s?

Laffs Comedy Caffe is now taking reservations for folks wanting to welcome 2020 with a smile.

Ron Feingold headlines shows at 7 and 10:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 31. Reservations are $30 plus tax and tip. The 7 p.m. show includes dinner, and at the 10:30 show, a dessert buffet sustains revelers in the count down to the new year’s debut. May it give us all something to look forward to.

More Laughs!

Friday, Nov. 22: Politically musical Standup with Randy Rainbow at 7:30 p.m., Fox Tucson Theatre ($41.50 to $87.50). Country musical standup with Rodney Carrington at Desert Diamond Casino ($30 to $45). Standup with Greg Romero Wilson at new winter times, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Shatfan and The Lobbyists at 7:30 p.m. and The Soapbox at 9 p.m., Tucson Improv Movement (TIM)($5). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. and Fourth Friday Free Form Friday at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theatre ($5 and $8).

Saturday, Nov. 23: Standup with Trevor Noah at 9:30 p.m., Tucson Music Hall ($47 to $93) and Greg Romero Wilson at 7 and 9:30 p.m., at Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv with Third Beats and Harold Omega at 7:30 p.m., and Pilot Season and Standup 101 at 9 p.m. at TIM ($5). Uncensored improv with NBOJU at 7:30 p.m. and uncensored Tellabration!, a nationwide event hosted in Tucson by Tellers of Tales at 9 p.m. at Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8). High camp Retro Game Show Night, BattleMimes, at 7 p.m. at Club Congress ($12, Eventbrite).

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy at The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, Nov 20, 7 p.m., The Screening Room and 8:30 p.m. at The Mint.
Thursday, Nov. 21, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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World Flute Concert

World flute virtuosos Gary Stroutsos and Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos come together for an evening of meditative soundscapes… More

@ San Pedro Chapel Fri., Jan. 31, 7-9 p.m. 5230 E. Fort Lowell Road.

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