Make fun of Mo?: She’ll beat you to it.

click to enlarge Make fun of Mo?: She’ll beat you to it.
(Mo Urban/Submitted)
Mo Urban will host her 104th show at BlackRock Brewers at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16.

We wanted to honor Mo Urban for her 100th show. Alas, she blew right past it. She’ll host her 104th at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at BlackRock Brewers, 1664 S. Research Loop, 200. It’s free.

In truth, July 16 at BlackRock is merely the 104th show she has promoted on Facebook. Even she doesn’t know how many she’s created and performed in. She’s been making people laugh her whole life.

“I used to do imitations of Steve Martin,” Urban said, describing a childhood remarkably steeped in comedy. She added that her family used comedy to cope with a lot of trauma that affected her young life.

“I have a goofy family! My brother’s hilarious. My sister’s really fun. My mom (now age 76), her wit is so quick! I wish I were that quick.”

“We grew up watching ‘Saturday Night Live’ on TV, and my brother and I would listen to vinyls of Richard Pryor and watch VHS tapes of Howie Mandel and Eddie Murphy,” Urban said.

“I liked the feeling in my belly when I laughed, and I liked making other people laugh.” She said that even as a kid she liked to try to make people laugh when they were unhappy. “It was a personal challenge. I could lighten the mood if things were tense at home, or I could make a joke about myself so nobody could make fun of me. I liked beating them to the punch.”

As a social worker, her ability to lighten the mood might be her most useful skill next to listening. In comedy it signals that she ought to find a stage.

“I heard it from my mom and a lot of different people, ‘You should do comedy,’” she said. “So, I went to an open mic. This guy there was stressed because he’d forgotten his material. He went up and just said, ‘I always wanted to do this, but I don’t know what I’m doing’. That was my inspiration. I was like, if that guy could get up there, I could do it.”

Very soon, Urban felt intimidated by what she felt was male dominance over Tucson’s comedy scene.

“I was very bright eyed and bushy-tailed,” she says. “I just wanted everybody to like me. But then I thought ‘This is not OK.’ There are hardly any women, and the comedy is very problematic. I heard someone say one time, ‘Don’t tell a rape joke around Mo.’ And I was, like, ‘Don’t tell a rape joke anywhere, ever.’ I got a lot of kickback for being vocal and saying, ‘I’m not OK with this comedy.’” She said that even some women pushed back.

As soon as things began to feel safe after the COVID-19 shutdown, Urban began collaborating on an open mic that would welcome women and others whose lives and cultures might not otherwise be represented in the Tucson comedy scene. The result was Lady Ha Ha, co-created and produced with fellow comedian Priscilla Fernandes. “It’s an open mic,” Urban says, “for the rest of us.” The Lady Ha Ha mic at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at The Rock.

Urban also teaches standup comedy at Tucson Improv Movement, where TIM Executive Director Justin Lukasewicz, one day gave her a tip: BlackRock Brewers wanted to consider doing comedy shows. Naturally she jumped on the chance to host the easternmost comedy showcase series in town. BlackRock Comedy, approximately monthly, is a fun show, always packed.

The BlackRock Comedy Show on July 16 features some of Tucson’s most popular comedians, including Amber Frame, Roxy Merari, Rory Monserat, Steena Salido, Eli WT and the rarely seen but hilarious Charles Ludwig.

The Kids in the . . .Spark event space

The Dead Improvisers Society is 10-ish friends made in the Unscrewed Theater’s Monday drop-in improv jams. Some have taken TIM classes as well, and a couple of them are also on TIM teams. They meet weekly at rehearsals in a children’s theater. They invite new people for group play dates and occasionally ask new people to join.

This amorphous bundle of laughing talent occasionally has played 10-minute improv sets at multi-format mics hosted by Unscrewed and TIM. They kept looking for a way to stretch out. In the end, it was as if Mo Urban were whispering her motto in their ear, “If you don’t see it, make it happen.”

Saturday, July 16, at 7 p.m., they are making an hour-long show happen at Spark Project Collective, 4433 E. Broadway. It’s free.

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