The Weekly List

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
  • 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 laffstucson.com.

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

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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 rialto.com for Bamford tickets, alone or with a $25 TCAF festival pass. Visit tucsonimprov.com 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
  • 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 rialtotheatre.com. 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 tucsonimprov.com, 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
  • 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
  • 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."

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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
  • 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 thegaslighttheatre.com 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 tucsonimprov.com.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Weekly List: 23 Things To Do In Tucson This Week

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 12:42 PM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

Music

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Celebrating the Spectrum 2018. Desert Voices, Tucson’s premier gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and ally chorus, is all about the idea that anyone can sing. And not just anyone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Anyone, regardless of creed, age, background, age, race or pizza topping preference. (Even anchovy lovers are welcome here.) For this event, Desert Voices is hosting GALA choruses from throughout Southern Arizona and Southern California to celebrate equality, diversity and the unity found in love of music. 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 10. Arizona Theatre Company, Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. $25 door, $20 advance, $15 student.

Summer Sizzlers–Cool Hot Jazz for the Summer. Here come the Dixie Cats, the swinging jazz group that’s known for playing the tunes of old NOLA. Their show “A Brief History of Jazz” will play tunes all the way from late 19th-century ragtime to late 20th-century big band swing and trad-jazz. This is the first in the St. Philip’s in the Hills Friends of Music summer concert series, so if you enjoy this, you can look forward to Grupo Riken, the Puerto Rican/Latin Jazz group, playing in July. 2 p.m. Sunday, June 10. St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave. Suggested admission is $15. Students with ID admitted at no charge.

1812 Overture by the Tucson Pops Orchestra. June is upon us, so it’s only natural that, thanks to the Tucson Pops Orchestra, tunes are upon us as well. At this evening event in the park, you’ll hear music from Miss Saigon, a Tchaikovsky piece, “America the Beautiful,” and, in the young conductors’ portion, even “La Bamba.” Grab your blanket or folding chair—heck, bring a picnic if you want—and settle in for an evening of music. 7 p.m. Sunday, June 10. DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Reid Park, 900 S. Randolph Way. Free.

Art

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Etherton Gallery’s Summer Exhibitions. No matter what kind of art you like, you’ll want to make it a point to head to Etherton this summer. Their photography exhibition, “From the Archive: Masters of 20th Century Photography,” showcases work by American modernist photographers like Ansel Adams, Robert Frank, Annie Leibovitz and Eugene Smith. Hand-colored bird and flower photography by Tucson artist Kate Breakey will be on display in the pop-up gallery. And they’ve also partnered with The Skateroom to display editioned artwork on skateboards (designed to be hung on the wall, but could be used for skating as well) by artists such as Andy Warhol, Shepard Fairey and Ai Wei Wei. A portion of gallery sales of the skateboards will go into a fund for Cushing Street Skate Park, a needed covered skate park for Tucson youth. On display through the end of August. Opening reception 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 9. Etherton Gallery, 135 S. Sixth Ave. Free.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Weekly List: 23 Things To Do In Tucson This Week

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2018 at 2:48 PM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

Music

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Duran Duran Tribute. Are you hungry (like the wolf) for some good entertainment as a prelude to the weekend? Don’t miss a performance by Planet Earth, a group of five musicians who love the ’80s and like to incorporate period instruments and precise costuming into their sets. They’ll be playing stuff all the way from the early ’80s to the mid-2000s, so the odds of your favorite Duran Duran song being in the mix are high. It’s hard to believe something this great could happen in an Ordinary World, but it can! 8 p.m. Thursday, May 31. Paradiso Lounge at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Free, 21+.

This is Folklife: Unpacked. No matter how much you know about country music, you could almost certainly learn something from ethnomusicologist Kate Alexander, a UA professor who is currently researching queer country music and dance culture. She’ll give a talk that will include country music’s European and (enslaved) African origins, the masculine country cowboy archetype, and alternative forms of country like the ones she studies. 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 2. 44 N. Stone Ave. $45.

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Creed Bratton at 191 Toole. There are few characters quite so charming as Creed in The Office. He once said “I am not offended by homosexuality. In the ’60s, I made love to many, many women, often outdoors in the mud and rain. It’s possible a man could’ve slipped in there. There’d be no way of knowing.” Through his signature wow-that’s-so-creepy-it’s-kind-of-funny delivery of lines, viewers learned Creed’s character in the show was a man who knew his cults, his painkillers, his mung beans and his DIY hair-dyeing techniques. At this show, viewers have the chance to see Creed in a totally different role—a sweet, folksy singer-songwriter. Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m. Thursday, May 31. 191 Toole, 191 E. Toole Ave. $20 to $25.

Friday Night Live Summer Jazz Concert Series. Have you been going to the concert series at Geronimo Plaza? If you haven’t, why not? These Friday night shows are completely free! And this week’s band Purple Spectre has so much going on, it’s really like seeing several different bands at once. The modern jazz/fusion quintet features Angelo Versace of the UA School of Jazz on the Rhodes Organ, as well as musicians on the electric bass, saxophone, trumpet and drums. Get ready to feel really classy as you spend your evening in the park listening to jazz. 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 1. Geronimo Plaza, 800 University Blvd. Free.

Art

The Little Big Art Show. For such a small word, art is one of the biggest, broadest and universal things out there. While in that sense, there really is no little art, art sometimes comes in the form of small-scale sculptures, covers compact canvases or uses miniature mediums. When you bring a bunch of those together for a display at the Contreras Gallery, you get a “Little Big Art Show.” Check out art by the likes of Jane Buckman, Nina Duckett and Ruben Moreno, and be free from the worry that you’ll spend your whole time at the gallery staring at one enormous piece on the wall that you don’t understand. Show runs Saturday, June 2 through Saturday, July 28, with opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 2. Contreras Gallery and Jewelry, 110 E. Sixth St. Free.


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Staff Pick

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

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

@ Scottish Rite Grand Parlour Saturdays, 7:30-9 p.m. Continues through April 27 160 South Scott Ave

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