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BYT Comedy Guide: Spring/Summer 2014
March 26, 2014 | 12:00PM

By Ross Bonaime, Matt Bryne, Michael Foody, Adam Friedland, Stephanie Hasz, Jamel Johnson, Daniel Kibblesmith, Tristan Lejeune, Joe McAdam, Sampson McCormick, Seth Olenick, Danielle Puterbaugh, Lavanya Ramanathan, Story League, Ian Douglas Terry, Jenn Tisdale, Brandon Wetherbee, Matthew Winer

Welcome to our first ever Spring/Summer Comedy Guide. We’ve already published our FILM GUIDE and MUSIC GUIDE and now it’s time to get silly. It’s silly. It’s a silly lil’ guy. Also, who knew Breaking Bad has such awful episode titles?

01 - TV

Hannibal Buress Live From Chicago premieres on Comedy Central April 1 – Hannibal Buress’ last album Animal Furnace is already a frontrunner for best comedy album of the decade. Since then, he’s been everywhere, from scene-stealing roles in Broad City to great indie flicks like The Kings of Summer. His latest album Live From Chicago is Buress’ first as a star comedian, and with bits like sneaking into an Eddie Griffith show by name dropping Donald Glover and his trademark deliver, Buress is on a roll. BONUS: read this classic BYT Hannibal interview. -Ross

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Silicon Valley premieres on HBO April 6 – Not only is Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge’s first live-action TV show, it also will hopefully shine the spotlight on some of the funniest people working today who deserve to become household names. As the title implies, Silicon Valley takes place in the titular area, where a group of programmers are trying to become the next big name in technology. But oh, that cast! Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods AND the TV return of Martin Starr? HBO has had it’s share of good comedies lately that haven’t worked out (Hello Ladies, Family Tree) but Silicon Valley could very well be HBO’s best comedy since Girls. -Ross

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Veep season 3 begins on HBO April 6 – Season 3 picks up with the VP running for P and it’s completely shaken the season one of The Office weirdness. Gomez is no longer successful without common sense. She appears electable and the cast is in their prime. The well-assembled comedy cast is letting their SNL/UCB/Arrested Development/Seinfeld/My Girl/The Office talents shine. After getting a sneak peek at the first five episodes, it’s clear that this will win Best Comedy at next year’s Emmy’s. There are at least 10 memorable, GIF-able moments in episode 5 and since I work at BYT I can write that with authority. It may also be the most realistic show set in DC. -Brandon

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Fargo TV series premieres on FX April 15 – Footage from the upcoming FX series Fargo, based on the Coen Brothers’ film of the same name, looks promising, as does the cast list, which includes Billy Bob Thorton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, and Key & Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as a pair of FBI agents. Here’s hoping this TV spinoff of a very good movie from almost 20 years ago isn’t shitty! -Matt

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Dinner With Friends With Brett Gelman and Friends Special premieres  on Adult Swim April 24 – If this show is anything like Gelmania, it’ll be a huge success in the nerd podcast community and no one that has ever seen Go On will know what the hell is going on. -Brandon

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver premieres on HBO April 27 – We all agree John Oliver did a great job guest hosting The Daily Show last Summer while Jon Stewart took a few months off to grow a beard, right? Right.

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HBO jumped on the comedy news bandwagon with this new weekly news show anchored by Oliver, which everyone is excited to watch using their Uncle’s HBO Go password the day after it actually airs. -Matt

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Jim Gaffigan Obsessed premieres on Comedy Central April 27 – The pale, schlubby Gaffigan could eat out (haHA) on his famous Hot Pocket bit alone (read more on that in this CLASSIC BYT Gaffigan interview-ed.). Turns out that the 10 minutes spent grinding that sub-food into the dust were nothing compared to the more recent beating in store for the Domino’s “pasta bread bowl.” Gaffigan says he’d be willing to try this disgusting, cheese-injected carb bomb, except of course, that he has kids. Everyone’s favorite comic who’s safe to play in front of your parents, if not always those children, Gaffigan is most eloquent on gluttony and sloth, making the belly-laughs positively sinful. -Tristan

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Louie returns to FX May 5 – Louis C.K.’s acclaimed comedy/drama/short film series returns with fourteen new episodes, which will be paired up, back-to-back for seven weeks. This approach comes perhaps as an attempt to make up for the year-and-a-half the show spent off the air, giving a weekly double dose to all the heads out there jonesing for a fix of self-aware sad-sack-itude. -Matt

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Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 3 Begins On IFC May 8 – Yes, NBC has been shaking up its the late night schedule with Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, but the real new star of late night is Scott Aukerman. Having turned his live show to a podcast to a TV show, he has excelled in all formats to become one of the funniest hosts of everything. Returning for its third season on IFC (to be followed by a recent, massive, 40-episode pickup for season 4), Comedy Bang! Bang! is like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse mixed with early Letterman with a few drops of acid. It’s an insane talk show with real guests and great character work from people like Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Daly and Jason Mantzoukas. -Ross

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Nathan For You Season 2 returns to Comedy Central June 24 – The first season of Nathan For You was one of the most consistently inventive and hilarious shows I’d ever seen. Business expert and deadpan master Nathan Fielder put himself into horrifyingly uncomfortable situations on the regular to the squirmy delight of the at-home audience. In February, Fielder gave the world a brief glimpse into one of Season 2’s projects with the rapid rise and fall of Los Angeles’ Dumb Starbucks. -Matt

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Garfunkel & Oates’ show premieres this summer on IFC – Last fall, IFC picked up 10 episodes of a new show featuring comedy-folk duo Garfunkel & Oates (Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome) for a premiere in 2014. While nothing’s set in stone release-date-wise yet, I’m eagerly awaiting what these two have cooked up. Also of note: Fred Savage (yes, that Fred Savage) recently came on board as executive producer and director for the series, which, considering his recent directorial work on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and 2 Broke Girls, is a pretty cool thing. BONUS: Read this classic BYT Garfunkel & Oates interview. Date advice is included.-Matt

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Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories premieres this summer on Adult Swim – Funny guys do ‘odd’ things and influence another generation of kids that are interested in funny. It’ll be funny. I won’t make the same mistake of putting it on at my in-laws house. -Brandon

Squidbillies season 8 premieres this summer on Adult Swim – Dana Snyder gave — and occasionally still gives — Cartoon Network’s finest-ever vocal performance as Master Shake on Aqua blah-blah, you know the one. Brash, blindingly selfish, and stubborn sometimes to the point of his own death, Shake is one of a kind. But Snyder also draws guffaws aplenty as Granny Cuyler on Squidbilies, which returns for its eighth (!) season on Adult Swim this summer. That’s right: a show about drunk, meth-cooking land squids living in rural Georgia has lasted two seasons longer than Lost. While the Cuylers dodge the sherif and milk urban tourists, Snyder sits in his sound booth, portraying a toothless, old white-trash woman cephalopod as crazy and horny as the day is long. I like my calamari home-fried. -Tristan

02 - twitter

Cullen Crawford @HelloCullen

Onion News Network staff writer Cullen Crawford is probably my favorite Twitterer. Dude effortlessly cranks out dark absurdities all the live long day and should have 5x the followers he does. Plus, almost no topical jokes!

Sean Tejaratchi @ShittingtonUK

Graphic designer Sean Tejaratchi, known for his cultishly adored clip art zine Crap Hound, regularly pumps out ridiculous and realistic looking photoshopped images of stuff like limited edition Friskies cans featuring endorsements from the likes of Tony Hawk and Chuck D and covers of porny vintage pulp magazines like “Too Much Pants” and “Corduroy Secrets.”

Kate Berlant @KateBerlant

I wrote of my obsession with Kate Berlant a few weeks ago in my Funniest Human of the Week column, and it continues to this day. Her tweets read often like random excerpts from the inner monologues of five different people, each one manic and endearingly unhinged in their own way.

Ian Abramson @iantherage

Ian’s an up-and-coming Chicago comic who’s hands down one of my favorite standups going these days. He’s also a very clever boy whose Tweets will make you laugh and laugh. For fans of wordplay that would make you groan if it wasn’t so damn clever.

GOP Teens @GOPTeens

This is just a good Twitter account. Good Tweets, good use of hashtags, great way to start a dialog with your #teen online.

Aparna Nancherla @aparnapkin

Writer/standup/improvisor who until very recently wrote for the unjustly cancelled Totally Biased. Her jokes are good ones that I like a lot. Recommended if you love weirdo observational stuff devoid of much context (I do!) and hate periods at the end of your Tweets

03 - Podcasts

Hollywood Handbook – Comedy writers Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements cohost this insider’s guide to the “red carpet-lined back hallways of this industry we call showbiz,” offering up tips and tricks to aspiring wannabe stars. The brutal sarcasm and deliberate stupidity that made me fall in love with their first podcast with the Earwolf Network, the brilliantly mean and dearly departed Reality SHOW Show, returns, now free of the confines of any specific topic. -Matt

Getting Doug with High – Doug Benson has made it a point to make a podcast about everything he loves. First it was movies (Doug Loves Movies) and food (Dining with Doug and Karen), but his first love weed has been sorely missing. But with Getting Doug with High, he invites celebrity guests to join him on camera, get high, answer some trivia questions and watch a magic trick. Seeing these actors high usually varies from hilarious to freaking out. An example of all spectrums can be seen in the below episode with Eric Andre, Rory Scovel, Harris Wittels, Jonah Ray and Steve Agee, which may just be one of my ten favorite podcast episodes of all time. -Ross

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If I Were You
– If you need advice, you probably wouldn’t look to the offices of CollegeHumor. Yet two of the site’s stars Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld have created the only advice podcast on the Internet (hosted by them) and the results are fantastic. Episodes have involved Jake’s mom guesting while he talks about his recent STD test, or the duos constant fascination with Tinder. Oh and they occasionally give out some advice/insult the people who ask questions. -Ross

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Topics - It’s about time someone made a podcast where in half an hour, they can cover 80, maybe 90 percent of some of the big topics in life. Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter have you covered in a podcast that isn’t about the belly laughs, but they’ll let them happen if they come along. Hearing Michael and Michael’s misguided knowledge about every topic and every once in a while breaking from their know-it-all characters accidentally makes for a very dry and often hilarious podcast. -Ross

U Talkin’ U2 To Me? – In preparation for the upcoming U2 album, Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott have united to make a comprehensive podcast series about everything U2, from Boy to Boots (put on your, that is) even though maybe 20% of the show is ever actually about “the boys from Liverpool” as they call them. They mostly want to talk about Adam Scott’s missed connections with Bono or just trying to get some band T-shirts. You Talkin’ U2 to Me? is by far the greatest U2 podcast that has almost nothing to do with U2 ever. -Ross

How Did This Get Made?Technically Mystery Science Theater 3000 is returning to television in the form of Rifftrax but if you still need that shitting on a movie vibe then you’ll love How Did This Get Made? It’s brought to us by Paul Scheer (The League), Jason Mantzoukas (The League) and June Diane Raphael (New Girl, other stuff). Together they explore your favorite movies and some of your non-favorite movies by asking the age old question: How did this get made? -Jenn

04 - Secrets

Stephanie Hasz is a Bentzen Ball alum and the host of the show Comedy Secrets. You can not watch clips or listen to it as a podcast because some things are meant to stay private, even if they were said on stage.

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Being a comedian involves sharing a lot about yourself with friends, colleagues, and, if you’re lucky, total strangers. If you tell jokes the way I do, it takes a lot of work to find the line between what’s appropriate to share and what you should keep to yourself. Here are some tips for navigating your self-imposed lack of privacy:

Stay away from Twitter and Facebook any time you’re having serious feelings. Sure, you’re angry about the revolving door of burglars and drunks who visit your bedroom, but you’ll never be able to convey that cleverly through a status update; it’ll always come across as a cry for help. Instagram should be safe as long as you avoid posting photos of your solo lunch next to a book–that’ll worry your friends even more.

Feel free to talk about your sex life, just don’t be a dork about it. Here’s a good rule of thumb: before you share any sex story onstage, ask yourself if you would have told it through a contrived game of “Never Have I Ever” during college. If the answer is yes, save that shit for the next time you need to make friends at a kegger.

Don’t share your friends’ secrets. Sometimes, people want you to keep things quiet even when they don’t explicitly say, “Please don’t g-chat about this with all of our friends.” I mean, they probably won’t end your friendship over it, but they will remind you about your indiscretion every goddamn chance they get.

Even though it can be really funny to show them off onstage, boobs and butts should probably be secrets too. Everyone has a camera phone, and I think your dad knows how to use Facebook now.

Everyone you’ve ever talked to will Google you once they find out you do standup. EVERYONE. Your Juggalo brother-in-law? Yes. The guy you briefly dated who smelled like the zoo on a hot day? Him too. Your old roommate who stacked dishes on the drying rack like a ghost trying to prove its existence? Probably. Everyone has feelings, so be careful what you podcast.

05 - Sports

Jamel Johnson is a Bentzen Ball alum, Super Sampler Showcase alum and wears hockey jerseys on stage. A lot.

12763172203_32327421be_zFirst off you’re generally gonna want to stay away from football jerseys. The sleeves are too bro-y. Football jerseys just let people know you’re comfortable farting in a room full of strangers. As good as football is they just don’t look that cool plus you don’t want people thinking you’re on Roethlisberger’s side. @WarrenMoon.

Know your venue. It’s all about being on stage. You want your eyes to pop. Speak to the open mic’s lighting director ASAP. If things are going to be dark. Stay away from your road jerseys (hockey excluded (NHL teams wear their darker colors at home, for examples, the Caps wear red at the Verizon Center and white on the road. -ed.))

Temperature obviously plays a factor. You’re not going to pull out a Vince Carter throwback in the middle of January.

The team you choose is a reflection of you so go for what you know but also like play to the crowd but then ALSO like don’t wear some shit if you can’t back it up unless you don’t mind being a fugazy. I mean like fraudulent. Not like Fugazi cool hip rock bands. So like if you’re in Orlando doing a mic over in Universal Studios pull out the Penny Hardaway, but then don’t be surprised if somebody asks you who Nick Anderson is.

Above all else If you’re gonna do it do it for yourself cuz jerseys don’t get you laid. Understand that females never say “Hey, nice jersey.” Now put that fedora back on.

06 - Party

The Puterbaugh Sisters host the extremely fun and funny and dance party friendly Entertaining Julia every Sunday night at the Town Hall Pub in Chicago. They can be seen at most decent to good comedy shows in Chicago and occasionally at places like NerdMelt and at the upcoming Crom Fest in Omaha.

  1. Drinks, Drinks, Drinks and then some more drinks.
  2. Have Fun. It’s not hard, just have fun. Partying should come first, material second.
  3. Location, Location, Bacon. Don’t have a show at a place that is hard to get to. Go to a part of the city where people are already professionals at drinking and already partying and then put your show there. In Chicago, it’s Boystown.
  4. Themes. Pick a unique theme and then make everyone go along with it. Audience and performers. It makes shows fun.
  5. All you have to do is believe, silly. If you believe you can have a party show, then you can.

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07 - Costume

  1. Step like a Diva. Wear that costume with pride, gurl.
  2. The bigger the better. “Too much of a good thing is wonderful”- Liberace
  3. If you’re doing it for comedy, don’t try to be sexy while you’re wearing a costume, there’s nothing funny about being sexy.
  4. Try on costumes drunk or stoned and then wear them sober.
  5. Garage sales and thrift stores are best for costume selection. Don’t be a dick and buy per-packaged costumes like a weird slutty college girl. Nobody wants to hang out with sexy bumble bee’s or sexy lady bugs.

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08 - Photo Booth

  1. Play director. Give directions for everyone to follow. Examples- “NY or LA” “Oh Hi, I didn’t see you there” “Dad?”
  2. Again, if you’re doing it for comedy, don’t try to be sexy, there’s nothing funny about being sexy.
  3. Selfies. Do “Say Something Selfies.” Saying something about yourself through a selfie. Like “Hey, I’m from Gary, Indiana”
  4. Don’t delete the ones where you have double chins. Wear that triple chin with pride.
  5. Make gross faces.

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09 - Photo

Seth is the photographer behind the book Funny Business. Buy it here. Follow him on Twitter and Instragram because he’s good at pictures. Here’s one of his good picture.

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  1. Tell them it has never been done before, and they’re going to be the pioneer of the idea
  2. Tell them they’ll get a sitcom deal based on this photo alone
  3. Remind them that you are a professional and would never make them look bad on purpose
  4. Put them at ease by letting them know they can say no, but that saying no would make them weak
  5. Say the photo is being taken for the largest collection of comedian portraits ever to be collected in one book – Funny Business.

10 - Breaking Bad

Daniel is a Funny Human and the author of the excellent book How To Win At Everything so we asked him to make a helpful list. This is a helpful list. These are real titles.

1. “Phoenix”

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2. “Fly”

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3. “The Pilot”

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4. “Cancer Man”

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5. “Problem Dog”

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11 - hack

Joe McAdam is a Funny Human. So we asked him for a Top 5 list.

  1. Story Structure
  2. Joke Structure
  3. Misdirection

12 - Adam

Adam Friedland is a Bentzen Ball alum and known for his controversial style of stand up comedy.

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13 - Journalist

Lavanya Ramanathan writes about the arts and culture, which includes comedy, for The Washington Post.

Tweet.
We journos are so obsessed with how utterly witty we seem in 140 characters. So much so that it’s supplanted all other human interaction for us. So, naw, we won’t be coming to your Comedy Spot show. But tweet about 2Chainz, we will lol you like no one else. See: Aziz Ansari.

Go political.
There are tons of funny comics in Washington, and they’re getting better all the time. Jokes about the human condition are funny. But I can’t help but feel like incisive politically comedy is a niche I’d love to see even one comic carve out for themselves. If anyone can do it, it’s DC.

Don’t try to spit game at the journalist. (Or your female comedy fans.)
You dudes who do this know who you are. Roll it around in your head a while: When a woman approaches you after the show to tell you she liked a (like, probably one) joke, the likelihood that she wants to see what’s under that dirty hoodie you are wearing is actually zero. No one is at your show because you are hot. You are not. And you’re only moderately funny. Stop telling (tired) jokes about your Internet porn obsession and then trying to ask a woman to buy you a beer.

Oh, and stop telling tired jokes about your Internet porn obsession.
If you see enough comedy, you will hear a joke like this once a night. I can always feel the porn joke before it’s even told – amateurs reach for it when they’re flailing, like the Denver Broncos going for it in the last two minutes of the Super Bowl. It’s sad. Also, the existence of porn, and your appreciation for it, is not actually shocking.

14 – Improv

Anyone that’s a fan of Todd Glass, and you really should be a fan of Todd Glass, knows that he is passionate about well-run clubs and The DC Improv is one of his favorite clubs. In fact, it’s one of every stand ups favorite clubs. So we asked DC Improv Manager Allyson Jaffe why she thinks the club is loves. Rather than take a guess, she went to the source and took quotes from some of comedy’s best funny people from a Express article about their 20th anniversary.

Todd Glass: There are a good amount of good comedy clubs. There are a good amount of very good clubs. Then, there are a few that are elite: That’s the DC Improv.

Brian Regan: This is going to sound bizarre, but it has a low ceiling. Low ceilings are very good for comedy. I like to perform there because, well, I’m really not very good at all, but the audience is fooled. Whatever little laughter there is bounces all over the place.

Jim Gaffigan: The DC Improv was one of my favorite comedy road rooms when I did clubs. It was also the first ‘A’ comedy room I headlined.

Bill Burr: It was sort of a comedy bucket list thing. I performed at the DC Improv.

Mike Birbiglia: Being a doorman at the DC Improv was like going to comedy college. And not an average one. The best comedy college, because they book hands-down the best comedy shows in the country.

15 - Kennedy

The Kennedy Center recently began its first-ever stand-up comedy series “Comedy at the Kennedy Center.” Here are three things we look for when considering comics to perform at our country’s National Cultural Center.

Connecting Audiences

President Obama, of “Between Two Ferns” fame, is not the only one who knows the value of utilizing the intersection of comedy and the internet. YouTube, Podcasts and social media have shaken up the comedy landscape in a big way. We look for comics who diversify across a wide range of artistic mediums, like Chris Gethard and James Adomian. In addition to his wildly popular web series The Chris Gethard Show, Gethard is an accomplished improv actor, regularly appears in films and performs stand-up across the country. James Adomian is best known for his wild impressions on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and recently signed on to develop a new television series for IFC.

Comedy’s Next Generation

Once upon a time, Jerry Seinfeld was a struggling stand up comic in New York City. One of our goals is to expose audiences to the next generation of comedy’s brightest stars. Amongst those whom we will feature include Saturday Night Live writer Michael Che, who was recently listed on Rolling Stone’s “50 Funniest of 2013” list, and Nikki Glaser, who regularly appears on Comedy Central and MTV as a stalwart in America’s comedic culture.

Local Stars

From Dave Chappelle to Lewis Black, Washington, DC has birthed some of the funniest comedians out there. Supporting this tradition, we have made it a priority to feature a hilarious member of DC’s burgeoning stand-up comedy scene to kick off each show. DC native comics Sara Armour and Brandon Wardell recently relocated to comedy meccas New York and Los Angeles to pursue their respective crafts on the next level. Up-and-coming stars Tyler Richardson and Chelsea Shorte have this town laughing as hard as ever.

16 -Fest

Last year my friends and I (a real rag-tag group of alt comedians from Omaha, Nebraska) decided it would be fun to put together a comedy festival to celebrate the kind of comedy that we enjoy and to bring more comics to Omaha to experience our great city and scene . We managed to bring in 30 out-of-state comedians from Denver, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago including headliners The Grawlix, Ron Funches, Howard Kremer, and Sean Patton. This year we are bringing in 60+ comedians for three days worth of shows and have Brooks Wheelan, Rory Scovel, Kyle Kinane, Ben Kronberg, Power Violence, Bryan Cook, Sean O’Connor, and a whole bunch of other awesome comics flying out for a wild weekend of pure comedy in a city that most people don’t associate with a strong alt comedy scene. How did we do this? Easy…

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  1. Spend all of your money. Last year I emptied my bank account to make the festival happen. I’ve always been of the philosophy that in order to achieve cool things one must make sacrifices…and putting on a comedy festival by yourself (without sponsors or financial backing) you’re going to have to proverbially “put your money where your mouth is” and be stressed out for a spell. It is a gamble and you could fail, but if you pull it off it is totally worth it because the comedians and crowds leave happy.
  2. Have a good reputation. Reputation is everything. I came from a punk rock background of playing in and booking bands, and a band’s reputation could make or break their success. When bigger comedians are looking to do shows in cities they’ve never been to they are going to be willing to work with people they’ve heard good things about and people who are “cool”. We worked hard to take care of the comedians we bring in and to show them how awesome Omaha is so they will tell other comics and spread the good word far and wide, and that reputation helps us convince comics to take a chance on coming out to Nebraska.
  3. Think like a travel agent. Do you know the best time to book flights? Are you earning hotels.com points to use on the multiple hotel rooms you’re going to have to book? You want to make sure you can save yourself money but also put comics up in a good spot of town that may have a shuttle (which will save you lots of planning) or cool things to do.
  4. Spreadsheets are king. As someone who is tremendously unorganized and lazy, spreadsheets have saved my life. I had a rough schedule made for this years festival almost six months in advance. Changes had to be made, but I was ready and made sure I didn’t accidentally forget anyone. Plus you can be working on one at your boring job and no one can tell you aren’t working.
  5. Profit, Profit, Profit! Just kidding, you’re not going to make money nor should you expect to. Any extra money should go to the comedians who were cool enough to come hang out in your city. I’m sure eventually you might make some money back and maybe break even…but the best way to approach the comedy game is “Fun & Friends>Money”.

17 - think

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  1. Because you don’t know me, fool! (You don’t know my story)
  2. Because you can’t beat me.
  3. Because Jesus stood upon a pillar and told the people to “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged. . .sit down, eat your fish sandwich and mind your damn business.” (That’s the King James version)
  4. Half the time, bitches who have something to say about anything you’re doing, don’t have their own $#!% together. . .so how you gonna judge me?
  5. Late one night, while she was sitting on the sofa, eating caramelized popcorn, smoking cigarettes and drinking Henessey, my favorite, loud drunk Aunt Jackie told me: “If they’re not F***ing you, feeding you or paying your bills, it don’t matter what nobody think, tell em’ to kiss your ass!”

18 - story

We asked SM Shrake, head of Story League, for some tips about being funny when telling a story. Rather than write the list himself, he solicited responses from eight previous Story League winners, aka, people that have made money for telling a funny story.

Shrake

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MISTAKE: Not being clear on WHY you want to tell this story publicly. FIX: Give it the “So What? Test” before you even pitch your idea, i.e., What would make anyone care about this beyond me (and possibly my closest friends)?

Jason Pittman

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MISTAKE: Not telling enough fart stories. FIX: Eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl more often.

Mike Kane

MISTAKE: Telling a story for the first time… on stage. You’ve never told this story to anyone in your life; now you’re telling it to a room full of people who paid to hear a good story. FIX: Tell your story first to friends, coworkers, family, etc., to see if it passes the test — and to make sure it all makes sense! Stories that kill at bars, parties, and other social settings will most likely kill on stage too.

Jill Wagner

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MISTAKE: Your story isn’t a story, but rather a weird, rambling string of loosely related anecdotes. FIX: Pick the best option off your cluster of anecdotes and commit to it. Then, eliminate anything that does not contribute to the arc of the story.

Chuck Na

MISTAKE: Memorizing your story, word for word. FIX: Know your story generally and practice different routes of getting to the next plot point or joke. Tell it out loud, either to yourself, or a friend — in person or by phone. (My dog knows all my stories.) By “knowing” your story instead of “reciting” as written (monologue style = boring), you give yourself flexibility in your performance and seem more natural to the crowd. Much better than quaking in fear that you will choke as your panicked brain tries to remember the exact word or phrase you wrote.

Jennifer Tress

MISTAKE: Not making yourself vulnerable. You can tell a funny story about things that happened and your role in those events, but it won’t be memorable unless you put yourself out there. FIX: Reflect honestly on what you felt and how you may have appeared to others even if it makes you look “bad,” because those are the moments when the audience really connects with you and your story.

Diane Ivey

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MISTAKE: Your story doesn’t have an ending. After the climax, you find yourself petering out with an awkward laugh and, “So, yeah….” FIX: Ask yourself how you changed during the story. Did it give you a new perspective? Did you learn something? Did it make you say “never again”? The audience wants to know who you were at the beginning and who you are now. Try to express that, but not literally with, “And so, the moral of the story is…”

Adam Ruben

MISTAKE: Standing too far from the microphone. FIX: You want your mouth to be about an inch from the mic. It feels too close, but it works. When you hold the mic an arm’s length away, like an “American Idol” contestant belting out the final note of some Usher song, you just can’t be heard — and if no one hears your story, no one can like your story.

Reggie Melbrough

MISTAKE: Stepping on laughter and/or waiting for the laughter you think should have come. FIX: Let yourself and the audience soak in the fact that something you said just made the WHOLE ROOM laugh, and don’t let that moment pass by speeding through your story. Also, just because you say something that you believe is funny doesn’t mean the audience will agree, so don’t stand there looking dumbfounded that your witty retort or reference didn’t get the laugh you wanted. Just relax, ’cause the crowd will tell you what is funny and what is whimsical and cute.

carter

David Carter performed at the BYT Super Sampler, writes our weekly Topical Cream column and is single.

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Shower Beer – You’re gonna do both, so why not do both? A shower beer offers you the rare opportunity to start your day how your previous night ended. Time is a flat circle, and so can your beer can be after you drain it of its vital resources. Bonus tip, instead of throwing the can out, you could keep it as a toothbrush caddy and begin your life as the Anti-Martha Stewart. It’s a good thing. The intense heat of the shower, paired with your presently dehydrated body, will only multiply your beer’s power exponentially. As you try not to trip and fall out of the shower, taking the curtain down with you and reenacting your favorite bloody NCIS vignette, remember that you’re single now. You can do whatever the hell you want.

Yankee Candles – Cleaning takes time, time you don’t want to spend cleaning. So keep up appearances with something not visible at all, a good scent. Yankee Candles make your house feel like a home, a home full of candles. The trick is to buy three candles that mix well together, giving you up to 7 different scents in an aromatic Venn diagram. Ever wanted to combine Thanksgiving AND Christmas? You can! Light up a Pumpkin Pie and a Christmas Cookie at the same time, and shove that cornucopia up Santa’s ass. Your guests’ noses will be stuck in confusing time loop of early December. Hell, light a Leather Yankee Candle (which is real) and stick that sodomized Santa in an S&M bar where he belongs. You want your apartment to smell inviting if you’re going to be inviting people over, because you’re single now. You can do whatever the hell you want.

Elevators – People rarely approach a single lonely person at a bar, and it’s hard to start a conversation with someone on an escalator, as they both have a way to escape. Now that you are starving for a connection with anyone, ride an elevator for a few hours a day. An elevator provides exactly what you need, forced interpersonal relationships with complete strangers. Speak with everyone who joins you. This will increase your skills in small talk, banter, trivial information, and eye contact, all skills you dropped during your recent relationship. You will begin to ask people how they are, for a change. You will inquire how someone else’s day went, for once. You will become deeply invested in the feelings of the other person in the room. What a change of pace! Be sure to bone up on weather puns, as they will be your bread and butter of catalyzing conversation with people who are just trying to go home. My favorite is, “You think the weather is bad here, in Germany it’s always heil-ing.” Because you’re single now, you can do whatever the hell you want.

Dogs – Another great life hack is more of a cheat code: Pets. Get a dog. Staying social & social-able is hard; as you could tell by the Elevator Life Hack you just tried. A dog will emote and listen just like people. A bird will just sound like it’s mocking you in your emotional state. Cats are soulless evils that are only entertaining in YouTube and meme form. Get a dog. Dogs will act like substitute friends that will force you to take them outside. Now encouraged by your shower beer, smelling of a Bondage Claus Yankee Candle, with social skills perfected by your Elevator torture, this Life Hack of a fake friend will prime you to be outside and begin a human connection again. And like most relationships, you will have to deal with that dog’s crap in public. Because you’re single now, you can do whatever the hell you want.

Your iPhone – This Life Hack will not work with any other phone. I cannot stress that enough, because other phones are dependable. They stay on. There is nothing worse than a non-divisive device. Now that you have this small computer with all the apps, tools, and answers you could ever want, don’t bring a charger anywhere you go. This will force you to realize every moment you have with your phone on is special. You will appreciate this little partner you have who is desperately trying to assist you, but who can also unknowingly feed you wrong information, get you lost, delete important contacts, and turn off without notice. Your ability to appreciate something before its gone will grow and your trust will be tested. Now because every moment with your iPhone is a ticking time bomb, you will have to continually ask people for help. This will improve your bargaining, compromising, and patience. No bartender wants to lend you their charger if you’re only going to buy a Coke. Make a scene and make a sacrifice. Because you are single now, and you can do whatever the hell you want.

All of these hacks are meant to embolden and rebuild your shaken and shattered self, to remind you that being single kicks ass. They are not meant to get you ready for a new relationship.

Who would want to date a buzzed, holiday smelling, chatterbox who won’t stop showing you pictures of their dog before their terrible phone dies? No one.

But who would want to hang out with that person? Everyone. You’ve got pizzazz!

Now let’s go get you a drink. I’m paying. Its only 2am.

Because we’re single now. And we can do whatever the hell we want.

19 - Youtube

When YouTube made it possible to view what a person likes simply by clicking on his or her name, I was devastated. Looking at my own history of likes I realized they revealed a man that I would rather not be.

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I saw this funny GIF on Brandon Wardell’s Facebook page and I wanted to see where it came from.

After some research I learned there was a failed WWF of bodybuilding in the early 90s and I searched YouTube to see if I could find its final Pay-per-view. All the bodybuilders played a character. One was a Rambo, another was a Top Gun, a shorter muscleman was “The Giant Killer”; 90s Wrestling gimmicks applied directly to bodybuilders. I fast forwarded through the actual posing portions to enjoy the cave painting semiotics of the introductory vignettes.

World Bodybuilding Federation Championship PPV 1992

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Taxi Cab Confession

This is my most recent animation. I like all my own videos.

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I’ve hate-watched numerous ‘The Fox’ parody videos as I’m a big fan of Reddit.com/r/cringe. I usually give these videos a thumbs down, so thankfully, I am generally spared the humiliation of the world knowing that this is how I actually spend my terrifying finite time on this planet. The below video was simply too perfect an iteration of its sub-genre to be denied.

What Does the Bishop Say?

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I’ve made a The Fox parody of my own. After this video I purchased a superior microphone as I was not pleased with the audio quality.

What Does the Cock Spray? Ylvis The Fox Parody

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Speaking of audio, there’s a Microsoft program called “Songsmith” that will create midi music to compliment sung vocals. It is often funny to see what happens when a popular song is interpreted by this program.

Motörhead – Ace of Spades – Songsmith Version

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Two months ago I animated Mouse Daughter. Sometimes a joke comes to me in a dream, but because it’s a dream it’s too strange for me to communicate with the world. I’ll wake up laughing and scribble “…but the old woman doesn’t even realize that three legged mouse is her daughter.” in the notebook I keep beside the bed, cracking up the whole time.

Mouse Daughter

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The things that I watch most are videos of people drafting and playing Magic: The Gathering at a very high level with all of the best magic cards of all time. I search for such videos frequently that I find myself sorting by “most recent” as I believe I’ve seen most of the good videos already. If I find myself sorting video searches by “most recent” is a way to discover that something has become a problem. This
is one of my favorite such videos.

Limited Resources – Draft Vid, Power CUBE Draft, 21 Dec. 2012

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Take a look at your YouTube history and then try telling yourself that you deserve love.

20 - face

Perth is a Bentzen Ball alum and genuinely freaks out audiences. He’s one of our favorite performers and people. We asked him to write out one of his performances so he wrote about the five best ways to clean your face. If you’re lucky enough to see Perth perform this live you may get to take home some literature!

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We all know that comedians are considered to be the most beautiful entertainers, often called the Aphrodites of showbizolympus. In fact, after many-a-set, folks will come up to me and ask, “Hey, how do you maintain that cherub-like purity in your face?” or, “Boy, your skin is finer than silk, I’d like to peel it off and wear it as a nightgown.” Normally I tell them, “Get lost, your breath is corroding my delicate, moist face, I’ll never reveal my secrets,” but recently I’ve had a change of heart and have decided, as a philanthropic gesture, to reveal all. Keep in mind, this advice would sell for a couple hundred bitcoins on top of MtGox, so consider yourselves lucky to be getting it for free. Here are my top five ways to clean your face after a comedy set.

1. Don’t Clean It Instead, wear a diaper on your face during your set, they’re easy to dispose and highly absorbent, sure to suck that stage gunk clean off. This is an especially good strategy for any HEATHEN comics that have strayed from the path of the righteous. We don’t want your dirty, caca-mouth jokes clogging up our ears, so howsabout you spew your filth where it belongs!

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2. Follow Ancient Wisdom Some rinse themselves with Bogwater
Then wipe with the fur of an otter.
But I will attest,
What beats all the rest
Is ram’s blood after the slaughter

That’s a limerick that’s been passed down through my family and it’s a method that I’ve found works better than any MODERN natural-hygiene-cleansing-eucalyptus-hocus-pocus. Try it out!

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3. Have a Wizard-man Clean It You guys like life hacks? Well I’ve got a good one for you. You’ve probably seen those buildings with the big letter “t” on top of them, right? I think normally they’re used for life-ending ceremonies like funerals or weddings, but here’s a secret: Find the man in Hogwarts robes, tell him you want to be saved. He’ll wash your face off in a giant stone basin for free! As an added bonus I hear it makes you live forever.

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4. The King of the World Method I’ve got a friend named Barmbus McTigley, okay? You find Barmbus, mention my name and he’ll let you use his time machine. Take it back to 1912, get a ticket for the Titanic, and ride that baby just like Leo did. Nothin’ll cleanse those pores more than an North Atlantic ice bath, trust me on this.

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5. A Nice Acid Bath Now a lot of people like to use hydrochloric, but I myself prefer sulfuric. I’ve found that it gets your skin nice, soft and tender to the point that it falls right off the bone.

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21 - poster

Comedy posters are catching up to rock and roll posters. Slowly. For every hundred horrible hotel conference room fliers with headshots haphazardly placed over vomit inducing fake frames that look like a sincere Tim & Eric bit, there’s one good poster. Billy makes some of my favorite comedy posters so I asked if we could put them here. He said yes. Please, if you run a show, try to make a poster as good as Billy’s. Or hire him.

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Forget everything you’ve just read, Mystery Science Theater 3000/Rifftrax is returning to television. Tune in April 1st. -Jenn

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