Fun in General

Friday, January 5, 2018

Laughing Stock: Tucson Fringe, Top to Bottom

Posted By on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 3:45 PM

Tyler West - TYLER WEST
  • Tyler West
  • Tyler West
"This is incredible! It's a Disneyland for theater people — with whiskey!'’ says Maryann Green, describing her first fringe theatre experience. It was the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest in the world.

Festival organizers had hoped to lure Green and her Rincon/University High theater students to the American High School Theater Festival portion of their month-long, 300-venue event the following year. That trip never happened, but Green’s first taste of fringe gave her the vision that now drives the eighth Tucson Fringe Theatre Festival, Jan. 11-14. Details are at The festival pass is $3; each show is $10.

Twenty-one artists each will perform one to three shows, and most are comical, Green says. “A lot of fringe artists are solo performers. I think it's hard to sell somebody on an hour of one person's tragedy, although for a good third of the artists that's their show. Most of them are very high-energy onstage. Almost all (the shows) are autobiographical, or semi-autobiographical, but there’s a story arc, and they’re very scripted.”

Two crowd favorites from prior Tucson Fringe events make a triumphant return. Beloved for his The Gay Uncle Explains It All To You, which filled the chairs for his Club Congress shows last year, Jeffrey Robert introduces The Gay Uncle’s Journey Through The Valley Of The Dolls. The set uses Jaqueline Susann’s hit novel as a launchpad for connecting a constellation of pop culture icons.

Catfish Baruni, harvested, via slideshows, the comic potential of a Mark Twain story about beef contracts and a catalog of European fairy tales in prior fringe outings. He’s lately plying his fascinatingly distorted worldview in partnership with fellow nerd Natalia Storie. When the pair started a busking enterprise to raise money, the result was Nickels and Dimes, a duo show which, we are told, may have won fictional awards at other fests.

Young parents, and anyone considering parenthood, might want to check out Tucson’s first foray into a common fringe fest format: Bring Your Own Venue. Feces on-da Face, by San Diego Playwright Joe Udall, features new parents in an Airbnb, where their notions about gender identification, relationships and roles play out over a hiking vacation with their seven-month-old daughter. The venue is their guest room at Elysian Grove Market.

We also like Confessions of a Delinquent Cheerleader, from St. Paul, Minnesota; Abeyance, an all-pantomime show by UA theater student Tyler West; and Audra Bachera’s A Glorious Day for Mrs. Sissy Fiz.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Laughing Stock: Gong Show at The Loft

Posted By on Wed, Dec 27, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Mike Sterner and Bridgitte Thum host First Friday Shorts.
  • Mike Sterner and Bridgitte Thum host First Friday Shorts.

“Before I worked here, I was trying to work on movies as an editor,” says J.J. Giddings of The Loft Cinema. “So much work goes into making a film, even a not so good film, that you deserve a chance to see it on the big screen.” Gittings is marketing director for Tucson’s nationally acclaimed art house cinema, and producer of the theater's monthly gong show for new works, Friday Night Shorts.

First Friday Shorts offers any local filmmaker-manqué a chance to show a work up to 15 minutes long on the 50-foot screen in the Loft’s newly renovated main theatre. If the audience loves it, a film can run until it ends. But things end badly if the audience hates it; at the three-minute mark, they’re invited to try to get the emcee to gong the film and shut it down.

Either way, the audience feedback is an education the auteurs could never buy. “It's a platform for filmmakers where they can go and just get real feedback from live bodies in front of the screen,” says comedian and KXCI DJ Brigitte Thum, who co-hosts the show with her husband, comedian Mike Sterner, a former writer for Bill Maher’s Politically Correct.

There is no telling what an audience will see. Filmmakers begin delivering their work to the Loft on Friday morning, and the first 15 in the door are shown. Recent entries have been documentaries, music videos and animated films. “There's always going to be something really goofy,” Thum says. Giddings adds, “Comedy usually goes over well, because it's just a simple idea to get across. Drama is a lot harder to communicate.”

Sterner and Thum keep the mood light and fun, trading spontaneous quips with fimmakers and each other. Thum covers the theater with her wireless mic, interviewing filmmakers about their work. “It kind of gives humanity to it,” she says, “like, this is a film made by a person. their blood, sweat and tears. This is the filmmaker you are gonging.”

Sterner offers low-key, practical tips, like, “You might want to get a tri-pod.”

First Friday Shorts takes place at 9 p.m., on Jan. 5, and the first Friday of every month. Admission is $6; $5 for Loft members; $1 more for online reservations. There is no fee for entering a film. Each month the audience picks a winner to receive a $200 check. All the year’s winners are screened in May to compete for a $1000 prize.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Laughing Stock: What Are You Doing For New Year's?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 5:00 PM

  • Matt Duncan Photography
  • Andrew Rivers
The joy of having friends over for New Year’s Eve can fall short of the annoyance of having to clean up after them when you’d rather watch football. We recommend making reservations for you and yours at Laff’s Comedy Caffe, The extremely reasonable price is a bonus; use the windfall to take a cab.

Featured are two of Tucson’s most popular visiting comedians – Andrew Rivers and Jade Esteban Estrada. Both perform twice on New Year’s Eve: a dinner show at 7 pm, $30; and a champagne-included dessert show at 10:30 pm., $25. Tax and tip are extra, but included in online reservations. The three dinner options include garden salad and sides; they are braised short rib, chicken Françoise and salmon filet.

A free weekend in Las Vegas goes to the luckiest door prize winner at each show.

Both headliners are proven Laff’s laugh-makers. Last December we wrote about Esteban Estrada the Prada Enchilada, with his “Las Vegas style and Palm Springs sass.” NBC news called him “The Prince of Pride.” He sends up the very stereotypes he creates with swishy bravado and a smile.
Rivers reprises his hit appearance last New Year’s Eve at Laffs, but, he promises, “Every time I visit a club, I bring new material.”

Turning to comedy when he lost his job a year out of college, Rivers says, “It was the best thing that ever happened,” he says. “It throws you out of your comfort zone to get crazy. You want to contribute to society in some way.”

His critically acclaimed YouTube series, “Don’t Quit Your Night Job,” in which he tries to do other people’s jobs, proves that comedy was his best option. “People are always, like, ‘I could never do comedy’. I could never do anything else.” His work ethic helps. “I've performed in 40 states, all over Europe and Canada, and on cruise ships,” he says, “there's nothing in ten years of comedy that I haven't done.”

If you have other New Year’s plans, you can still see Rivers and Esteban at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 29; and 7 and 9:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 30. Visit for details and reservations.

New for Comedy News

Here’s a new bookmark for comedy fans: Chad Lehrman has expanded his site from a resource for local comedians to a calendar of all the comedy shows in town. Soon he expects include comedians’ profiles.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Laughing Stock: Holly Jolly Edition

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Cartoonist David Fitzsimmons hosts Arroyo Café Holiday Radio Show at the Rialto Dec. 16. - DAVID FITZSIMMONS
  • David Fitzsimmons
  • Cartoonist David Fitzsimmons hosts Arroyo Café Holiday Radio Show at the Rialto Dec. 16.

Fake News? Fun Tradition!

Cartoonist and comedy impresario David Fitzsimmons reprises his Arroyo Café Holiday Radio Show at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, December 16 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $15 via, in advance or at the door.

It’s become such a popular Old Pueblo tradition that even the POTUS has noticed. Trump went so far as to tweet to organizers that he’s not interested in making an appearance. “Lame. Why drag me into your Christmas spectacular? Sad, really.” Naturally, Fitzsimmons and crew immediately added him to the bill. Fitzsimmons suggests, however, “Trump supporters may want to skip this one. Ho,ho, ho!”

The production has an old-time radio show format, a la Prairie Home Companion, chock-a-block with Tucson celebrities. In addition to Fitzsimmons, the Arroyo Café Players include KVOA’s Lupita Murillo; American Idol contender Crystal Stark; long-time radio announcer Bobby Rich; and comedians Elliot Glicksman, Jay Taylor, Nancy Stanley, Nick Seivert, Josiah Osego, Mike Sterner and Bridgitte Thum. The Grandsons of the Pioneers, comprising members of Reveille Men’s Choir, round out the bill, along with Wilbur Wildcat and the President of the United States, all under the musical direction of soprano soloist and sound designer Lindsey McHugh.

Light Family Fare at Gaslight

Sweet and smooth as the froth on your eggnog, Christmas in the Big Apple is a grand time for any family gathering that includes both the youngest and oldest members. The villainy is paper-thin and the survival of the Santa spirit is never in doubt. Lots of opportunities for interactive play include in simple, repeated lines and hilariously groan-worthy jokes, straight out of the third-grade joke book. Costumes are as spectacular as we’ve come to expect of the Gaslight Theatre. The red dresses in the olio all but stole the show for this scrivener.

Hurry to book this holiday treat as some performances have been sold out since May. Visit for details; call for reservations.

Tops and Bottoms at Borderlands Brewery

Ten dollars buys a beer and a show on from 7 to 10 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10, when Borderlands’ monthly showcase Brew Ha Ha presents The Tops and Bottoms Tour featuring Carmen Morales and Anthony Desamito.

Morales’ has won fans on Punchline, Sirius XM radio, two seasons of Laughs on Fox and multiple festivals. She also co-hosts a New York Times comedy podcast. Desamito has appeared on Laughs on FOX and The Doug Stanhope Podcast. He co-hosts a podcast recapping episode of the Golden Girls, and a monthly show at the Hollywood Improv Lab.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

The Weekly List: 22 Things To Do in Tucson This Week

Posted By and on Fri, Dec 1, 2017 at 4:10 PM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

Holly Jolly

Holiday Choirs at Tubac Luminaria Lights. TaliasVan’s Bright & Morning Star Choir & Orchestra are here to wish you a merry Christmas, wish you a merry Christmas, bring good tidings for you and your kin and to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Their performance in Tubac will be preceded by the CosmoYouth choir’s melodic stylings, and holiday refreshments, holiday cheer and holiday gifts will be available throughout the night for purchase (the cheer is free). Rumors are flying about a possible appearance by the big man in red himself, and who wants to be the one who has to say they skipped out on an opportunity to meet the real Santa Claus? 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2. Tubac Plaza next to Sacred Treasures, 29 Tubac Plaza. Donations appreciated.

  • Wikimedia Commons
Smile with Santa. It’s truly astonishing that Santa Claus has never won TIME’s Person of the Year Award. He travels all around the world making children happy, provided jobs for the elf population before it was required by affirmative action, and eats cookies in households across America so that Americans won’t, thus helping to keep obesity levels down. In between all of this, he’s finding time to let children (even the four-legged variety) pose for free pictures with him at Tucson Premium Outlets, and to host a story time on Saturdays. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays have storytime from noon to 1 p.m. and photos from 1 to 5 p.m., Sundays have pet photos from 4 to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 24, there will be Santa Photos only from 10 a.m. to noon. Tucson Premium Outlets, 6401 Marana Center Blvd. Free.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Weekly List: 25 Things To Do In Tucson This Week

Posted By and on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.


2017 International Tucson Guitar Festival. The guitar is one of those things that allows space for infinite improvement: You can practice for years and still only beginning to unlock your potential, because there are just that many possibilities. But the world-class guitarists coming to this event will blow you away with what looks and sounds a whole lot like mastery. Three-time Grammy Award nominee Berta Rojas performs at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 and Grammy Award winning composer/guitarist Sérgio Assad and Grammy Award nominated pianist/vocalist Clarics Assad perform at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19. Cuban guitarrista Iliana Matos opens the festival at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11 and the Beeston competition is at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12. Holsclaw Hall, Fred Fox School of Music, 1017 N. Olive Road. Ticket prices vary.

A Celebration of Joni Mitchell with Kimberly Ford. It goes without saying that every day is a celebration of Joni Mitchell in its own way, or at least it should be. But treat yourself to an evening jam-packed with Joni by seeing this six-piece SoCal based band headed by Kimberly Ford on vocals. Let Kimberly and Joni remind you that we’re all stardust, and that sometimes sadness, when sung about in just the right way, can be overwhelmingly beautiful. 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17. Gaslight Music Hall of Oro Valley, 13005 N. Oracle Road, No. 165. $25.

April Verch Band: Canada’s Finest Fiddle & Stepdancer. Not many adults are doing the same things today that they were doing when they were 3, or 6 and a half. But those are the ages at which April Verch learned to stepdance and fiddle, respectively, and she’s been steppin’ and fiddlin’ away ever since. Also, she sings. And sometimes she does all three at once. She fiddled at the 2010 Olympic games, she’s fiddled in Vienna Austria, and she’s fiddled her way onto the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. Now, it’s time to let her fiddle, stepdance and fiddle her way into your heart. With Matt & Bekah Rolland of Run Boy Run. 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19. Monterey Court, 505 W. Miracle Mile, Tucson. $15.

The Spirit of Argentina. They move quickly, dramatically and sensually, to the music composed by some of the most legendary figures in the world of tango. They are Tango Buenos Aires, known internationally as one of the most talented and authentic Tango dancers in the world. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take two to tango. It takes a whole expert company of musicians, vocalists and dancers to bring you the cultural experience of a lifetime. (And don’t worry. You don’t have to tango.) 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21. Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress. $24 to $39.


Made in Tucson Market. They say home is where the art is, and at this festival, you can find art and goods from dozens of vendors who make their goods locally. And while you’re picking up art prints, candles, jewelry, ceramics, kitchen supplies and other Tucson-made treats, you can chat with the artists (all of whom are Tucson residents) and learn about their processes. How sweet it is to stock up on holiday gifts, treat yourself and support local artists all at once. 10 a.m. to dusk. Saturday, Nov. 18. On Seventh Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. Free.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

National Stars Shine on Tucson’s Comedy Fest

Posted By on Fri, Nov 3, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Kevin McDonald
  • Kevin McDonald
Kevin McDonald, co-founder of the legendary Kids in the Hall, emailed that he’d always wanted to visit Tucson, and asked if Tucson Improv Movement (TIM) might allow him to host a show and a workshop. As a matter of fact, TIM founder and owner Justin Lukasewicz thought that was a swell idea and, on the spot, gave one of the world’s best-known sketch comedy artists the headline slot in Tucson Comedy Arts Festival 3, Nov. 8-11.

Responding to its growing reputation, this year’s fest branches out from TIM’s 50-seat black box theatre to include the Flycatcher, home of the event’s standup comedy components; the Sea of Glass, where McDonald performs with students from his day-long, sketch-writing workshop, and 191 Toole, where a solo performance by McDonald will cap the festival at 8 p.m., Saturday.

Most of the action, though, is at TIM Comedy Theatre, 239 E. 7th street, where 30 improv teams
Mary Catherine Curran
  • Mary Catherine Curran
 gather from Tucson, Phoenix, Chicago and Los Angeles, to perform a dozen showcases over the three days. Daytime workshops there cover skills for short form, long form and sketch techniques for ensemble and solo improvisers.

TCAF has something for everyone, including children and Spanish-language speakers. Visit for the full schedule and to register all the events. Except for McDonald’s, shows are $25 for a full festival pass, or $5 each, and workshops are $50. Some scholarships may be available.

Unique and recommended among the improv performers are Mary Catherine Curran’s solo sketch One Woman Space Jam; the Spanish language team, Cómo Se Dice; the hip-hop and rap team, Third Beats; Slideshow Fairy Tales, a unique solo comedy performance that you should Google; From the Top, a team that improvises an entire musical in 25 minutes; the all-female team, The Riveters; The Soapbox, featuring Kevin McDonald inspiring TIM’s top improvisers with anecdotes from his life; Phoenix-based veterans, Galapagos; and FOMP (Friends of Make Pretends), a show for children with lots of audience participation and stage time. 
Matt Storrs
  • Matt Storrs

We’re also looking forward to stand-up sets by Chicagoan Dame Grant; Tucson ex-pat Ben Dietzel, now of L.A.; local favorite, Josiah Osego; and, from Phoenix, Matt Storrs’ popular game show for stand-up comedians, The Storrs Objection.
The performer we’re most looking forward to seeing is Brooke Hartnett, because the Tucson comedy scene misses her. An alumna of the UA’s Charles Darwin Experience, a stand-up comedian and a TIM company member, she moved to Chicago to study improv and pursue a comedy writing career.

She says she misses the food and the low cost of living, but, “Chicago’s a really lovely city and a good place to work on comedy without the pressure of L.A. and New York. I’d like to teach improv one day, but I’m realistically more likely to make money acting or writing or directing film.” 
Alex Carday
  • Alex Carday

Hartnett’s Chicago team, Kill Phil, performs late Friday night, but she’ll be busy much of the rest  of the festival reuniting with besties in the top TIM ensembles she left behind: The Riveters, The Travelling Thornberries, Party Barf, and her duo team with Clare Shelly, Kitten Spit, a past crowd favorite.
It was Hartnett who encouraged TCAF workshop presenter Mary Catherine Curran to sign on for TCAF3. Hartnett had studied with Curran at iO Chicago. Curran, in turn, suggested her friend Alex Carday, an alumnus of the UA’s Charles Darwin Experience, and a current member of the nationally recognized short-form improv company, Comedy Sportz, in Chicago.

Carday’s workshop covers short form game techniques. Curran’s covers making strong emotional choices in scenes, but she also offers a personalized workshop for improvisers interested in solo  performance. How is that different from stand-up? “It's character-driven, and it's more personal, more, I think, an art,” Curran says. “I think mostly standup is based on creating or forming a joke, and you’re yourself most of the time. Solo improv is like a sketch show. It’s tightly scripted, and each piece is separated by blackouts or transitions.”

José  Gonzales, a co-founder of Phoenix’s Torch Theater, a ten-year-old school and
 performance space for independent improv teams, will teach workshops on enhancing scenes by working with imaginary objects. His techniques help improvisers create and perform within environments they create in an audience’s imagination. Gonzales also will perform a set with his 14-year-old team, Galapagos, which has toured all over North America and Europe.

While hosting its third comedy festival, TIM also celebrates five years in business. Lukasewicz says, "It's been amazing to see (TIM) sprout up from nothing. My two goals with TIM were to create high quality, fast-paced shows and to have a supportive, inclusive community. At the fifth anniversary show … the quality and support were amazing. I am lucky to get those sorts of moments on a regular basis.”

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

The River Bride, A 'Fairy Tale For Adults,' Opens at ATC This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 5:30 PM

Leandro Cano, Hugo E. Carbajal, Sarita Ocón, Dena Martinez, Paula Rebelo, and Sean Burgos in Arizona Theatre Company’s The River Bride. - TIM FULLER
  • Tim Fuller
  • Leandro Cano, Hugo E. Carbajal, Sarita Ocón, Dena Martinez, Paula Rebelo, and Sean Burgos in Arizona Theatre Company’s The River Bride.

The River Bride
 blends Brazilian folklore, poetic imagery and the excitement of young love to tell a story of two sisters in fishing village along the Amazon. Right before her sister Belmira’s wedding (to a man Helena feels was rightfully hers), fishermen pull a man out of the river who has no past, but who offers both women an enticing, if uncertain future.

The Arizona Theatre Company production of The River Bride, by Marisela Treviño Orta, opens in Tucson this Friday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The play made its debut at the 2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and was the winner of the 2013 National Latino Playwriting Award.

Treviño Orta has a background in poetry, and received a master of fine arts degree in writing at the University of San Francisco. After serving as the resident poet at El Teatro Jornalero!, she found herself attracted to playwriting for the first time

“It felt so very welcoming and embracing and supportive in a way that I was like ‘this feels so right,’” she said. “And doors kept opening for me.”

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Staff Pick

Summer Safari Nights

Summer Safari Friday Nights 2018 Date: Every Friday until August 3, 2018 6:00 pm — 8:00 pm… More

@ Reid Park Zoo Fri., May 18, 6-8 p.m., Fri., May 25, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 1, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 8, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 15, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 22, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 29, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 6, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 13, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 20, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 27, 6-8 p.m. and Fri., Aug. 3, 6-8 p.m. 3400 E Zoo Court

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