If you thought the Charleston Comedy Festival only happened in January, you’d be right — until now. Theatre 99 and City Paper’s little comedy fest is producing 50 Shades! The Musical on Wed. May 8 at the Charleston Music Hall.
This comedic parody of E.L. James’ famously smutty book has gotten rave reviews across the country. CNN called it “a titillating spectacle with plenty of sensuality. As erotic and decadent as you’d expect. A collaboration of comedy writers creating an ultra-spicy script!” Entertainment Weekly said it was “The perfect appetizer to the upcoming movie!”
Whether you laugh at your own jokes or keep your friends giggling, it might be worth a shot to try out for Theatre 99’s April Improv Tournament.
Here’s how it works: You form a group of three funny people, and you get up on stage with five other trios. After all six groups have performed for eight minutes each, Theatre 99 audiences will vote on the top two teams that will move on to the next round.
There’s a preliminary round for the next three Fridays — April 5, 12, and 19. If you don’t want to perform, then stop by and judge. Tickets are $10, and the shows always start at 8 p.m.
But not so fast — Being a spectator doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t end up performing, because you might. Each preliminary round will have a wild card team made up of three audience members. Later, there will be a big ol' improv jam featuring all the winning teams, and a wild card audience team could beat the professionals.
See theatre99.com for more details.
Friday night at the Charleston Comedy Festival was all about awkward encounters — and we mean that in the best possible way. We started out the night at the historic Footlight Players Theatre for Kevin Allison's RISK featuring Michael Ian Black. Some people seem confused, so let's clarify: This is not a Michael Ian Black stand up show. It's a show where various people tell various embarrassing stories, and Black is just one of those people.
Kevin Allison, the host and perhaps most engaging storyteller of the night, talked about a seriously strange run-in at a gay club. Adam Newman, who's also performing stand up at the fest, told a cringe-worthy story of online dating gone really awry. Vic Henley (another festival stand up performer) told us abut his stint as a bookie, and local gal Shon Kennedy put it all out there with the tale of a mortifying gyno visit. Michael Ian Black wrapped things up with a well-told but not-too-shocking story of being in a band in high school. Before the lights went up, Kennedy took the stage one last time to sing an a cappella version of "Summertime." Did it fit the show? Not really — she admitted she really just wanted to take advantage of the acoustics in the theater. Was it risky? Yes, and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.
We hear tomorrow night's show will feature all-new stories, including contributions from local comic David Appleton and both Reformed Whores (one of whom told us at the L'After Party that her monologue could have something to do with masturbation).
Up the street at PURE, The Pushers did what they do best, despite a small turnout: They made us feel supremely uncomfortable while cracking us up. One scene involving an armless butler giving his sweaty employer a rub-down was particularly awkward. And awesome. After that, The Prom, a young UCB team, treated us to some smart improv, and then Canada's Two Weird Ladies, this week's City Paper cover girls, got a little sketchy.
At the L'After Party at Mellow, we rubbed elbows with festival performers like the Prom kids, who were already asking about a good brunch spot; the Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting gals, whose Saturday show already sold out; and the Pushers, who, as usual, were doing a lot of shots. Here's hoping they don't feel too terrible this morning.
Tonight's the final night of Comedy Fest, so get your tickets here. The L'After Party is at Butcher and Bee, and if last year's bash is any indication, it's sure to be a good one.
The 10th annual Charleston Comedy Festival ramped things up Thursday night with a handful of shows at Theatre 99 and the American Theater. We camped out at the American to get a big dose of stand up comedy from Timmy Sherrill, Kenny Zimlinghaus, and the crew of The Most RACES Show on Earth.
Following a last-minute schedule change, Sherrill stepped in to fill the void of Nicky T. The Wilmington-based comic won the Charleston Comedy Festival Stand Up Competition a few years back, and it's clear he's been practicing his craft. He talked about going through the Taco Bell drive-thru on a bike while under the influence (this turned out to be a common theme for the night) and farting, among other things.
The headliner was Kenny Z, a former Charleston radio personality now based in New York. The comic has the distinction of performing at every Charleston Comedy Fest thus far, so he admitted to being a little disappointed with the audience turnout. (Don't worry, Kenny, we're sure tonight will have a better crowd.) We hung our heads a little when he complained about City Paper's focus on his "fat kid jokes," but when he delved into the fat jokes about midway through the show, we didn't feel so bad. That said, let's put it on the record right now that Kenny does more than fat jokes. He also likes to talk about crazy James Island people, jerking off to pigeons, and tickling (which he calls laugh rape).
By the time that show wrapped up, a huge line had already formed for The Most RACES Show on Earth. Led by Neil Bansil, a Filipino/Canadian now living in S.C., the show features four comedians who aren't afraid to talk about race, culture, and some really random stuff as well.
Former City Paper intern Evan Berke made us proud by talking about buying weed, TV church, and dropping his cell phone in a porta-potty (and yes, he attempted to retrieve it). Atlanta's Rob Haze riffed on Harry Potter reality shows, the elitism of Instagram, and vacuum cleaners. New York's Puerto Rican/Italian Gina Brillon told an anecdote about a shifty-eyed toddler on a flight. And Clayton English talked about zombies and superpowers. Obviously, the focus wasn't really on race, but the comics kept the crowd laughing no matter how random they got.
Kenny Z will be back at the American tonight, but MRSOE is done. Lucky for you, there's still lots more going on for the next two days. Check out the schedule here. And don't forget the L'After Party at Mellow Mushroom.
Wyatt Cenac isn't on Twitter. He makes notes on his phone instead as a "depository for half-baked ideas." After all, he is a stand-up comedian. "Why would I be on Twitter when I can gather a few hundred of you in a room and just tell you?" he explains. "Hash-tag: 'Thank You'."
Former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac kicked off the Charleston Comedy Festival with some of his queued up Tweets, riffs on why festival sponsor Guilty Pleasures seemed to get more applause during the intro than the venerable City Paper (who can blame them?), and calls for gender equality in our nation's nightclubs. With a decade of laughs under its belt, this year is the first time the Comedy Fest has hosted a blockbuster kick-off show, Theatre 99's Brandy Sullivan and Greg Tavares told an excited crowd of about 500 at the Charleston Music Hall.
First off, this is not your Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac. Dressed, as he put it, "like a bike shop employee," Cenac appeared decidedly more Brooklyn (his home turf), than John Oliver, the Comedy Central colleague he worked alongside for five years before leaving the show last month. After years of awkward interviews with politicians and playing "Rappers or Republicans," Cenac is now writing in his own voice instead of John Stewart's version of an ironic Edward R. Murrow. Which is probably why Cenac's lines tended more toward ripping Trace Adkins for his custom confederate flag earpiece ("is there just some really hateful artist who only works in very small mediums?") and less toward the debt ceiling. Though Cenac did grouse about why, despite a flagging economy, some Kickstarter projects, like an interpretive dance tribute to Johnny Cash (turns out that's a real thing), meet their funding goal, "That's just country night at a hipster bar!"
Wrapping up his set and looking forward to this weekend, Cenac advised audience members to observe 'Dr. Marty's Day" with the "same disrespect as St. Patrick's Day." And maybe to take along a vegetarian, which he says he prefers to go drinking with, "because they're always three drinks away from a cheeseburger."
The Comedy Festival continues through Saturday, with shows across downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Visit CharlestonComedyFestival.com for more information.