For Want of an Underwear Drawer…Transplants live their dreams in Tucson’s comedy scene

For Want of an Underwear Drawer…Transplants live their dreams in Tucson’s comedy scene
Ashley Tappen

Ashley Tappen says she doesn’t remember ever not wanting to be a comedian. “I just really enjoy making people laugh,” she says. “Some things I say that I don’t even think are funny, they crack people up. So I thought spreading joy was the way I would like to make a living.”

When she graduated from high school in her New York City suburb, she took a job that offered profit sharing after a minimum number of years. Cashing out as soon as she could, she left home for Chicago to take classes at The Second City. “I drove with my Honda and my dog to the middle of the country,” she says, “and I had never even been past Massachusetts.”

Tappening excelled through Second City’s improv curriculum, but ensemble work wasn’t her thing. “I found I needed the punch” of standup.

Next she embarked on a life working for vendors at large music and comedy festivals around the country. But in a few years, she wearied of the road.

“Some of the best times of my life happened, but I just needed, like, an underwear drawer or a house plant or somewhere to lay my head at night, except for in a Honda or, or Motel 6.”

So she settled in Tucson, where she’d made some friends and found what she called “a decent standup scene.” This weekend, she’s both producing and headlining in her first comedy showcase, The Tappening, at 8 p.m. Friday, July 1, at The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress. Tickets are $10.

Tony Bruhn hosts, and the lineup includes special guest Jess Toussaint; Steph Farrington; Dominic DiTolla, co-host of The Sports Experience podcast; Rebecca Fox, co-host of the Home Room Sunday open mic and the monthly Blazed and Confused comedy showcase, both at Arte Bella; and Allana Erickson-Lopez, Unscrewed Theater musical improv cast member and co-producer of the popular Screening Room sketch show, Keep Tucson Sketchy.

Chuckles in Catalina

Tony Schied deserved a laugh. A single father of three, he had been commuting two hours a day for work, moving up the wardens’ management ladder at the federal prison on South Wilmot Road. And he has MS.

Luckily, when he’d lived in Chicago a decade ago, he had that one friend nearly every successful comedian has. The friend said, “You’re funny! You should do an open mic.” Schied went up, people laughed, he was hooked.

Life happened and a move to Arizona ensued. When he finally retired on disability a few years ago, Schied tried his hand at Laff’s Comedy Caffe at an open mic.

It went OK for a while, but he got tired of driving to midtown Tucson, but then a friend suggested he start an open mic at Catalina Craft Pizza during the pandemic. He eventually added comedy showcases, but it got to be too much. Nonetheless, he’s dipping his toe back into funny business with an extravaganza with Comedy in Catalina at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 2 at Catalina Craft Pizza, 15930 North Oracle Road. Audience members must be 18 or over. Tickets are $8 and support the formation of a planned nonprofit, Differently-Abled Entertainment.

Schied will host and perform in a lineup that includes Priscilla Fernandez and Mo Urban, hosts of the Wednesday open mic Lady Ha Ha; Rory Monserat, standup comedy instructor at Tucson Improv Movement; Dave Margolis, co-host of the Wednesday night comedy podcast, “Is This On”; and others.

Phoenix comic Crickette Gill will be a highlight. A transplant from Chicago’s South Side, Gill was a 2021 finalist in Phoenix’s Funniest Person in the Valley contest.

Call 520-309-6798 for details or to reserve seating. Advance tickets are available at Catalina Craft Pizza.

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