Standup Thai Rivera visits the Twin Cities for the first time

Categories: Comedy, LGBTQ
"This will be my first trip to Minneapolis," says comedian Thai Rivera, who is looking forward to his first visit here. "I've done everything you can imagine as far as comedy goes. A lot of redneck bars, military tours, and churches. All sorts of stuff."

With his politically incorrect offerings, and an openly gay status, that may come as a surprise. However, as outlandish as he can be, he knows how to read an audience, and thus holds back on some of his more extreme jokes. "I can do what people want me to do -- if people are paying me enough, and it's worth it not to do it," he says.

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Jungle Theatre's The Mystery of Irma Vep is a wild ride

Categories: Comedy

Photo by Michal Daniel
Bradley Greenwald and Stephen Cartmell
Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep is a theatrical high-wire act, wherein two actors take on take on multiple characters to bring an over-the-top, supernatural melodrama to life.

It takes place on an isolated estate known as Mandacrest. That's where Lord and Lady Hillcrest reside with their maid Jane and groundskeeper Nicodemus, whose secrets haunt them along with the still-looming presence of Irma Vep, the former lady of the house.

See also:
Jungle revisits The Mystery of Irma Vep

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Big Jay Oakerson hearts Andrew Dice Clay

Categories: Comedy
A lot of comedians cite similar influences, the most common ones being Eddie Murphy, Richard Prior, Steve Martin, and Roseanne. For Big Jay Oakerson, it was Andrew Dice Clay.

"When I was a kid, I always had a sense of humor that was based on the standup that I would watch," he says. Clay was the one he watched the most, bonding with his stepfather over the Diceman's comedy. "We'd even watch his movie, Ford Fairlane, together."

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Pete Lee talks Acme Comedy Co. Asia Tour

Categories: Comedy
Pete Lee new pic cropped.jpg
Acme Comedy Company is heading east. Really, really east.
This week, Acme Comedy Co. owner Louis Lee will spearhead the very first Acme Comedy Co. Asia Tour, featuring three comedians who are well-known Acme standouts. 

Tom Segura, Pete Lee, and Chad Daniels will hit the road (or ocean, as it were) for a week-long run of shows that will include stops in Hong Kong, where Louis Lee is originally from, along with Singapore and Macau.  

Before he stamps his passport, we had the chance to talk with Pete Lee, who started his standup career performing at Acme's open-mic night, about how he's preparing for the upcoming tour, and why he thinks people are going to be disappointed by the fact that he isn't Asian.

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Dan Cole wins 2014 Acme Funniest Person Contest

Categories: Comedy
Every summer, dozens of hilarious undiscovered comedians, wannabe open-mic kids, and drunken train wrecks take the stage at Acme Comedy Co. in hopes of being named the "Funniest Person in the Twin Cities."

After three months and nearly 200 entries, this past Tuesday the final five took the stage to decide who would walk away with $1,000 and the ultimate bragging rights.

Over the course of the past 20-plus years, the Funniest Person Contest has produced some of the most promising comedians to come out of the Twin Cities. The 2014 edition definitely delivered the same quality of comics, along with possibly the most diverse group of contestants seen in recent history.

In the end, Dan Cole of Bloomington snatched up the title, and kick-started his comedy career with one of the most impressive endorsements in the entire Minnesota comedy scene. We managed to score a few minutes of the 22-year-old champion's time immediately following his win, and learned more about his inspirations and what he wants to do next in his comedy career.

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Interview: Standup comedian Bengt Washburn

Categories: Comedy
Kenneth Locke
"I couldn't talk," says comedian Bengt Washburn. "That's what it was like. That's what I tell people at my shows about living in Germany for three and a half years. It's hard learning a language when you're middle-aged." While the comedy business takes some comedians like Tom Rhodes, Rich Hall, and Dave Fulton to Europe, it was Washburn's wife's job with the U.S. military that found them in Germany. As such, Washburn couldn't do many gigs.

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Standup Sarah Tiana is at Rick Bronson's House of Comedy this week

Categories: Comedy
It took a while for Sarah Tiana to settle on standup comedy as a career choice. "When I went to college I was going to go into journalism, because we had CNN in Atlanta," she explains. "So I went to the University of Georgia in Athens, and majored in journalism."

Working at the Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park back in Atlanta meant no social life in Athens, so she eventually transferred to Georgia State. She continued majoring in journalism, until she came to a realization. "I was like, 'Gosh this is so boring.' I didn't know you had to write the news. I thought someone wrote it for you and you just read it. I can read off the teleprompter. That sounded like a fun job."

Also this week:
Tim Slagle at Acme Comedy Co. (interview)

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Tim Slagle on finding his birth parents, DNA, and the key to staying young

Categories: Comedy
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree after all. At least, that's what Tim Slagle discovered a few years back. The Detroit native has deep roots in the Minneapolis comedy scene, which serendipitously led him back to his family tree.

"I was adopted," he explains from his home in Chicago. "It's a very interesting story. [Acme Comedy Co. owner] Louis Lee's wife -- no more -- had this hobby. She had a half-brother she knew about, but didn't know where he was, so she looked him up. It was such a positive experience that she decided it was going to be her mission in life to reunite families."

When she found out Slagle was adopted, she approached him with the idea of finding his birth parents, but he resisted at first. "She wouldn't leave me alone," he laughs. "She just kept at it, and finally I relented. I'm so glad I did. I really owe her. She found my birth mom in about two months."

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Standup benefit for Brandon Reynoso boasts great lineup

Categories: Comedy
Brandon Reynoso (right) hangs with a friend after the incident
"Whenever a Minneapolis comic gets thrown down some stairs and breaks their arm, I always make time to do a benefit show for them," says local comedian Tommy Ryman. "This is the third show I'm doing, so I think there might be a problem."

Ryman, best known nationally for his recent appearances on Last Comic Standing, is just one of the many high-profile local comics in this weekend's benefit show for comedian Brandon Reynoso. In July, Reynoso was assaulted on his 30th birthday by a fellow comic who had blacked out after a long night of drinking. The altercation landed Reynoso at the bottom of a flight of stairs, with two shattered bones in his wrist and around $20,000 in medical bills.

"I can already see a lot of puns. I've been doing standup for years but I finally got my 'big break,'" Reynoso jokes.

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Interview: Standup Pete George

Categories: Comedy
It should be no surprise that Pete George, "the Rock Star of Comedy," started out in rock bands back in the 1980s. He played for several years in a popular Cleveland act called Separate Checks. "We were alternative before alternative was mainstream," he explains. Inspired by the comedians he saw on HBO, however, he found himself drawn to standup comedy. Mixing the two seemed like the obvious solution to the artistic crossroads at which he found himself, and that mix continues to this day.

Now that he's living out in Los Angeles, he has also dabbled in acting. "I had a few auditions last week," he says. "I read for Days of Our Lives. They wanted a dorky, introverted computer geek who was going on a date, so I kind of dressed the part. I walked into the audition room, and the casting director started explaining this dorky character. It was unintentional, but I was wearing these old-style dorky pants, and when I turned around the front of them popped open. I told the casting director, 'That wasn't on purpose.' She was like, 'Yeah, right.'"

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