The Weekly List

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Crime, Punishment, and Prisons in America

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2019 at 12:00 PM

The United States officially incarcerates more people than any other nation on earth.

Incarceration cost U.S. taxpayers more than $80 billion in 2016. Some states such as New York and Washington spend between $50,000 and $60,000 a year for each prisoner.

What does that cost buy?
What purposes does imprisonment serve?
What purpose should it serve?
Who should be imprisoned? For what? Why?
Who should operate prisons in the United States–government or for-profit corporations?

Pima County Public Library is inviting the community to explore these questions and share ideas at an upcoming FRANK Talk facilitated by Dr. T.J. Davis, Arizona Sate University, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

The event will take place Saturday, March 9 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. The event is free to attend and open to all. No advance registration required. 

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Laughing Stock: Fringe Freedom Finds the Funny

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 12:56 PM

Bill Santiago presents his comedy set, The Immaculate Big Bang, as part of the Tucson Fringe Fest 2019, Jan. 10 through 13. - MORGAN SHORTELL, KMESTUDIO12.COM
  • Morgan Shortell,
  • Bill Santiago presents his comedy set, The Immaculate Big Bang, as part of the Tucson Fringe Fest 2019, Jan. 10 through 13.

The first time actor, director and Rincon High School drama teacher Maryann Green staged a play she’d written herself, she sold out the house. Twice. Those two shows were part of the 2013 Fringe Festival that hooked her on fringe for life.

Now she heads up a volunteer crew of 15 to produce the Tucson Fringe Festival 2019, from Thursday, Jan. 10, through Sunday, Jan. 13. The fest includes 50 performances in 12 local venues. Admission to each show is $10, but a range of multi-show options are available, from a $15, two-admission pass to a $95 all-access pass.

A growing phenomenon around the globe, fringe theater is unique in its artistic freedom. Fringe productions often radically disregard conventions of structure, space, physical language and audience engagement. Acts self-identify as Fringe, pay an artist’s fee and get their names drawn from a hat, or not, as luck will have it.

Green says, “The first week of September, we hold a party where guests take turns pulling shows out of the hat until we have a full line up.”

Tucson Fringe sometimes pays a price for that artistic freedom. “Comedy shows tend to do better, ticket-sales wise,” Green says. “But some of my favorite past shows have been thought-provoking, heavier pieces.

“I was also really happy to be able to offer The Esperanza Dance project a last-minute spot in the festival,” she adds. “They help victims of childhood sexual violence heal through dance and multi-media performance.”

For comedy, we especially look forward to the first entries we’ve seen whose subject matter is entirely about work life: Name Tag Blues, Shane “Scurvy” Spears’ send up of the ignominies along the path to a window office; and Moira Keefe’s, Life as An Associate ...AKA F**ing Cashier, about a retiree’s return to the workforce.

We also like the funny, full-frontal feminism of Mo Urban and Steena Salido’s C*nts vs C*nts Talking About C*nts variety show and Elaine Orion’s Delightfully Rude, winner of the “Best Comedic Performance” award at the 2018 Boulder Fringe Festival.

And we’re looking forward to the Tucson fest’s first straight-up stand up performance, Bill Santiago’s The Immaculate Big Bang, a parody of every deeply believed origin story of everything.
Complete descriptions and tickets for all performances are at

From 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, the Comedy Alliance of Tucson and the Tucson Fringe Festival co-host “What Are You Laughing At,” a free, audience-participation panel discussion about the comedy scene in Tucson. Details are at 

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Laughing Stock: Now n' Later

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2018 at 4:07 PM

Jason Russell headlines four shows featuring Monica Nevi at Laffs Comedy Caffe this weekend. - JASONRUSSELL.NET
  • Jason Russell headlines four shows featuring Monica Nevi at Laffs Comedy Caffe this weekend.
Weekend Laff’s

Monica Nevi is featured supporting Jason Russell at Laff’s Comedy Caffe this weekend. We’re starting with Nevi because, at this writer’s age, it could be time to start sucking up for an interview in her hilarious Amazon Prime documentary series, 80 for 80, featuring interviews with folks 80 and over.

Nevi turned to stand-up comedy in college when injuries stymied her basketball career. She appeared in several Northwest comedy festivals and on FOX TV’s nationally syndicated show Laughs. She also co-hosts the popular podcast, HugLife and toured the US in the adorably named Blanket Fort Tour.

Jason Russell says he grew up a comedian.

“Every Saturday night, we’d have a family party with chips, candy bars and watch SCTV and SNL,” he remembers. Russell would imitate the characters. Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor were favorites. Soon he started creating voices and performing skits for family and friends.

He says his silly humor endeared him to most teachers and fended off the fights other biracial kids endured. Hosting the high-school talent show inspired him to try stand-up.

Russell’s comedy style is clean, silly and full of memorable characters. His performance credits include shows with Patti LaBelle and Martin Lawrence, and with Tommy Davidson of In Living Color. He also was part of a documentary about interracial comedians called Crossing the Lines.

Nevi and Russell perform with local openers at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Admission is $12.50, $17.50 for preferred seating. There’s also a two-item minimum. Details and reservations are at

Holidays at the Wench

Bunny Boom Boom, Stormy Leigh, Lela Rose, Natasha Noir, Nikki Riot, Kitten Minx LaFemme, Divina Moorephina, Taryn Garters and Ms. Trixie Phillips are featured in the holiday edition of First Fridays Burlesque at the Surly Wench Pub.

Roxy Merrari promises a holiday extravaganza starting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at the club, where she hosts a weekly open mic and monthly showcase. Watch for details on the Facebook page, Comedy at the Wench.

Family-friendly comedy

Clean Comedy Shows in Marana and Vail feature popular stand-up comedian and hypnotist Jim Kellner in their monthly series. He performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at 8000 N. Silverbell Road, Marana; and at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at Vail Theater of the Arts, 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way. Tickets are $10; $30 for a family.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Laughing Stock: “Southern” Accents.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Allen Strickland Williams dresses up for laughs at Borderlands Brewing Nov. 19 - OMNIPOP TALENT GROUP
  • Omnipop Talent Group
  • Allen Strickland Williams dresses up for laughs at Borderlands Brewing Nov. 19
Allen Strickland Williams comes to Brew Ha Ha

How much love can Tucson muster for a prep-school-named comic in a suit and tie? You’re not from Stanhope country, are you, son? Somehow on him, though, the anomalous sartorial choice is kinda hot. You know he could beat the pants off Idris Alba in trivia. Then there’s that telltale Southern accent.

Allen Strickland Williams has performed twice on Conan and been named to Comics to Watch lists on both Comedy Central and the Los Angeles Times. He’s performed at South by Southwest, Portland’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival and LA’s Riot Fest, among many other festivals. And he trained with UCB in both improv and sketch.

An iPhone flip through his YouTube channel is the best choice in any waiting room. Plus, he plays guitar, writes for Vice and, in an impossible case, landed a role in the 2018 season opener of Corporate.

Brew Ha Ha co-producers Rory Monserrat and Matt Ziemak regard his booking for their Nov. 19 Brew Ha Ha a big step in the project’s growth.

“Our main goal for Brew Ha Ha has always been to produce a quality stand-up showcase,” Zeimak says, “so being able to bring in these comics we respect and enjoy lets me know that the hard work we’re doing is paying off.

“(Partnering) with such a caring local business (Borderlands Brewing Company) has definitely helped make this a show people come back to month after month.”

The rest of the Nov. 19 bill includes New Yorker Brian Bahe, Phoenicians Tristan Bowling and Dana Whissen, and Tucsonan Eli W.T.

There’s a Brew Ha Ha every third Monday at Borderlands Brewery. The cover is $5, payable at the door and includes one of any Borderlands brew.

Blame it on Estrogen

Our top women-run comedy show, The Estrogen Hour, and the upstart Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby, both play for your adventurous mind this week.

A benefit for cancer research, The Estrogen Hour isn’t entirely about sex, but it always sells out. The show is at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2. It’s $15 plus a two-item minimum. Go to Estrogen Hour on Facebook for reservation details and the lineup.

Rebecca Tingley says her “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby” on Thanksgiving, is all about giving and receiving. That show’s gift is that we always learn something new. It’s at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 22, at Club Congress; $3. 

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Laughing Stock: Guest Columnist Molly McCloy talks to Maria Bamford

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 9:48 PM

Maria Bamford fan Molly McCloy is a four-time Moth winner and PCC teacher of creative nonfiction. Bamford headlines the Tucson Improv Movement’s Tucson Comedy Arts Festival with a performance at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Rialto Theater. Visit for Bamford tickets, alone or with a $25 TCAF festival pass. Visit for the schedule of festival performances starting Nov. 7, a festival pass and $5 tickets for individual shows.

“When was the last time you had a Peanut Buster Parfait?” I asked Maria Bamford.

“It’s been so long,” she replied. “You’re reminding me that I need to get back to the true path.”

The Dairy Queen treat comes up at least twice in Bamford’s work. In one standup bit, she demands a Peanut Buster Parfait from a friend, calling out the layers in a drill sergeant’s voice: “Hot fudge, peanuts, ice cream, hot fudge, peanuts, ice cream!”

In a scene from her NetFlix show Lady Dynamite, her character falls into a serious depression, and her father offers to take her out for a Peanut Buster Parfait.

I have a history of both mental illness and Dairy Queen employment in my family, so I’m sold on Bamford’s humor. I especially like the way she normalizes her bipolar diagnosis, since, for many of us, mental illness is normal.

In standup sets, Bamford pencils a family history of violence into a game of “emotional sudoku,” sings a deadpan song about her couples’ therapist and describes a psych ward in the voice of a set designer expertly arranging the broken chairs and puzzles with missing pieces. The current tour features all new material on marriage and religion.

Bamford told me that her humor about mental illness is successful because “the audience is down for it.”

She also explained the source her fabulous voice work, which includes dead-on impressions of business executives, teenagers, and hungry raccoons. “It started when I was a kid watching TV. It developed out of a need to be heard,” she explained, “the idea that if you change your voice the odds might be better that you’ll be heard because of the surprise factor.”

Since Tucson Improv Movement offers beginning improv and comedy courses, I asked Bamford what advice she would give new comedians.

“You just start,” she explained. “Tell yourself a little story you think is funny. Talk for five minutes and you do it over and over again. You add that five minutes to another five, and soon you have an hour.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Laughing Stock: What else is at TCAF?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2018 at 3:27 PM

Standup comedian Wynter Spears - WICF.COM
  • Standup comedian Wynter Spears

Next week in Laughing Stock, favorite Tucson storyteller Molly McCoy interviews Maria Bamford, star of the Netflix series Lady Dynamite. Bamford headlines this year’s Tucson Comedy Arts Festival, hosted by the Tucson Improv Movement. The fest runs from Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 7 through 10 at TIM Comedy Theatre, 414 E. 9th Street, between Revel and The Coronet. Bamford performs at the Rialto Theatre at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10. Tickets are $27 to $34 at For another $25, you get a pass to the whole festival.

Go ahead and get the $25 pass. Admission is $5 per show, but the pass guarantees a seat for all 36 acts that aren’t Maria Bamford. The theatre only holds 45, so you’ll want that guarantee to see your favorites. Passes and single-show tickets are at, or you can opt to get your pass with your Bamford ticket.

TCAF 2018 includes an expanded stand-up lineup, and sketch and improv performers from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff. Artistic director Daniel Kirby says, “We try to create opportunities for as many different types of comedy as we can. Diversity was our goal for this year.”

Comedian Wynter Spears is one example. A veteran stand-up comic, she began her career in Chicago and now lives the dream in top Los Angeles clubs. She also features regularly at women’s comedy festivals, and this year was tapped for The Second City’s Diversity in Comedy Festival.
TIM’s Como Se Dice bilingual team also recently performed at that festival and is featured in TCAF’s 
Improviser and former Tucsonan Mishell Livio - CSZCHICAGO.COM
  • Improviser and former Tucsonan Mishell Livio
lineup from 9 to 10 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7.

The Saturday, Nov. 10 lineup includes former TIM company member and Tucson radio personality Mishell Livio, the creator and executive director of the groundbreaking Hispanic Diversity Ensemble Generation LatinX in Chicago. She improvises with Kate Parker (of iO Chicago’s Improvised Jane Austen) as You and Me Against the World.

“Really, all three teams in the (6:30 p.m.) Saturday improv slot will be great,” Kirby says. “I am excited to see Brian James O'Connell and Neil Gargulio of The Pack Theater in L.A. They have a specific improv philosophy that I am not familiar with. It's always exciting to see a different style of improv.”

O’Connell and Gargulio perform as Garguilo'connell in the Saturday improv show. Rounding out Saturday’s lineup is PUMPS, an iO West house team from Los Angeles that may be the most prestigious in TCAF’s four-year history.

The fest’s extensive standup lineup includes New York comedian, writer and actor Amy Liszka; Motasham, also of New York, winner of the Acme Comedy Company Funniest Person Contest in Minneapolis-St. Paul and among the producers of the 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival in Minnesota; Los Angeles’ Peter Moses and YouTube pioneer Mike Falzone.

Local standup comedian, podcast host and improviser Rich Gary, who placed third in Tucson Weekly’s 2018 Best of Tucson Best Comedian poll, rounds out the bill with former Tucsonan Leland Long, now doing standup in New York City.

Kirby says, “Performers from LA and Chicago are bringing both diverse styles of improv and diverse types of performers.”
Tucson improv duo Chartreuquoise
  • Tucson improv duo Chartreuquoise

Arizonans to watch include the long-running Phoenix sketch-comedy team, The Cosmonauts, and two new house teams from Unscrewed Theatre, Comic Chaos and Leaky Faucets, which comprises veteran improvisers Walter Temple, Brianna Roy and Adam Lester. The reuniting Tucson improv team Party Barf includes Kirby and TIM founder Justin Lukasewicz, Clare Shelly of the popular, all-female team, The Riveters, and former Tucsonan Brooke Hartnett, now of Chicago, who will also perform with her Chicago team, Mall People.

Laughing Stock especially looks forward to the Tucson debut of Chartreuquoise, a long-form duo comprising Eric Rau, who performs with both Tim and Unscrewed Theatre, and his husband, Cameron, a mainstay with Laughing-Stock-favorite Musical Mayhem. The pair was recently featured at the Red Rocks Comedy Festival.

Phoenix’s esteemed Torch Theatre is represented by VerizonQuest, the duo of Marisol Chavez and Jose Gonzales, who both teach at that theater’s improv school.

Phoenix sketch comedy team, The Cosmonauts.
  • Phoenix sketch comedy team, The Cosmonauts.
Kirby says the Arizona acts bring particularly strong energy. “I think they want to create a greater, more respected comedy culture in Arizona. With groups from across the state participating, we can all learn from each other and make the Arizona scene richer. What makes TCAF so cool to me is that, especially with improv, we are seeing the evolution of the prevailing comedic sensibility in real time. SNL has pulled cast members from Second City for years, and recently, from other improv comedy theaters like UCB, iO, etc. (But) for example, current SNL cast member Aidy Bryant credits Bill Binder (co-founder of The Torch Theatre in Phoenix) for introducing her to long-form improv. By watching improv and other live comedy today, you can peek into how the comedy arts are changing!”

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Monday, October 22, 2018

In Our City of Gastronomy, Learn About the Social Justice and Politics of Food

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2018 at 3:24 PM

  • Bret Hartman
James Beard award winner, Michael Twitty is coming to the Loft Cinema courtesy of Pima County Public Library's LGBTQ+ Services Committee. A Q&A, book sale and signing will follow author talk at this free event.

Twitty will speak about gastronomy, the social justice reality of food, and his memoir The Cooking Gene, which the New York Times Book Review called "fascinating."

Of Twitty, the Washington Post says "Should there ever be a competition to determine the most interesting man in the world, Michael W. Twitty would have to be considered a serious contender."

Want to learn more before the event? Find more info here:
Wednesday, October 24 at 7 pm
The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
Doors open at 6:30 - No registration required

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Laughing Stock: Halloween Treats

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 4:20 PM

The Gaslight Theatre’s Vampire closes November 1. - THEGASLIGHTTHEATRE.COM
  • The Gaslight Theatre’s Vampire closes November 1.
Vampire, Or “He Loved In Vein”

Spoiler alert! What do you call a haunted chicken? A poultry-geist. Welcome to The Gaslight Theatre’s Vampire, tricked out in the Gaslight’s beloved lowbrow, fabulously costumed retro style.

The incongruity of this production’s songs, always good for a laugh in the Gaslight’s music and dance revues, find an apotheosis in the Vampire cast’s Macarena. The adapted lyrics are side-splitting. Likewise, Phil Spector’s 'Then He Kissed Me' all but sums up the plot line. With Tea for Two (Teefer, get it?), this production may have achieved what sometimes seems like Gaslight’s perennial goal: the worst pun ever.

Wolfman Jack delivers more groaners in this production’s Olio, the short variety show that follows each performance.

But what fun! Gaslight now has more than 40 years’ experience making all ages laugh – heartily, scornfully, giggly, eye-rollingly, squealingly – all the same.

Vampire gets the stake the day after Halloween so the clock is ominously ticking for reservations. Visit details.

Bewitched Blanches Vamp with Ghosts

Southern California comedians Anthony Desamito and Jimmy Callaway bring their Two Blanches tour to The Screening Room at 8:30 pm, Friday, October 19; $3 admission includes popcorn.

The duo perform as part of The Bewitched Comedy show hosted by local comics, Steena Salido, Marcus Gallego and Ali Musa. Musa, an alleged Ouija Board savant, brings jokes with its ghosts in an audience-participation game. Salido and Gallego join in the mystical fun with comedians Autumn Horvat, Brett J McCabe, Matt Ziemak, Molly Bridget Dean and Rich Gary.

Audience members are encouraged to wear costumes. A contest rewards the funniest.

Sensitive Humor

Vern White’s Key da Life Entertainment presents Sensitive Humor, an evening of music and comedy at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, at The O, 2000 North Oracle Road; free. Featured comedians are Rory Monserrat, Matt Ziemak and Chris Ryan. Wing lovers can get them for fifty cents all night.

She’s everywhere!

Every other Sunday you’ll find one-woman comedy haboob Salido now doing her own open mic and showcase at Welcome Diner, 902 E. Broadway Blvd. The next mic is Oct. 21. Sign up is at 6:30; showcase at 7; free

Mid Autumn Night’s Dream

TIM sketch team Baby Fish Mouth, which could be the best Halloween costume ever, performs its first scripted comic play, The Halloween Show, a name that belies its comic twists and deathly intent, at 9 p.m., Saturday, October 27 at Tucson Improv Theatre; $5 via

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Staff Pick

Tour of the Mission Garden at Tucson's Birthplace

Tours of a re-creation on the original site of the Spanish-colonial-era walled plot that was part of… More

@ Mission Garden Saturdays Corner of Grande Avenue and Mission Lane.

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