In the last few months, Tucson has lost three important comedy “workshops.” These were not open mics, per se, but sessions in which comedians and aspiring comedians write together, try out new material, and get feedback from other, usually more experienced comics.
Two of the former workshops’ venues are or were closing. The third, at the Screening Room, lost out as part of a nightly comedy idea that ultimately failed to meet the venue’s needs. (The Screening room now hosts one comedy night a month on the first Friday.)
Fortunately for the Tucson comedy community, its longest-standing supporter, Laff’s Comedy Caffe, began a year ago to host its own workshop. Laff’s is Tucson’s only comedy venue that can offer a new comedian a paid hosting gig or an unpaid guest slot in front of a large audience, with nationally known comedians who can potentially give their careers a boost. With the workshop, the club expanded its commitment from encouraging local comedians to also helping to develop them.
In the wake of other workshops’ closing, Laff’s staffer and professional comedian Michael Celi says Laffs is stepping up this commitment with a new program, Comedy Outreach. Whereas the original workshops were for anyone who showed up with new ideas to hone or jokes to practice, Comedy Outreach will have more structure and include a schedule of experienced comics charged with giving feedback. Comedy Outreach starts June 22 and continues at 6 p.m. every Thursday, ending just as open-mic signups begin at 7 p.m.
Celi says, “The main difference between what I'm doing and what (the other workshops) were doing is that this is not for an audience. I wouldn't turn an audience away, but I’ll be working to have an audience composed entirely of other comics.”
Laff’s longstanding 8 p.m. open mic continues to attract as many as 40 comics every week. No one would dispute that it’s the most popular free comedy show in town, although your mileage will vary from comic to comic. Laff’s Comedy Caffe is at 2900 E. Broadway Blvd. Find info about upcoming shows at laffstucson.com.