Sheng Wang: "I'll probably do standup for another 10 years or so, then retire and deliver pizzas"

Categories: Comedy
Most standup comedians discover their talents at an early age, be it as the class clown or oddball in school. Sheng Wang wasn't one of those people.

"I was never the go-to funny guy or anything like that," he says of his introduction to the comedy world. "I was in a group back in college for Asian kids who wanted to do something onstage, and one kid mentioned standup comedy. I was like, 'I think I know what that is, and I think I like it.' So I tried it and it worked out."

Eleven years later, Wang is living in New York and performing standup in comedy clubs, college campuses, and festivals all over the country. This weekend, he'll be at Mystic Lake Comedy Club showing audiences what he decided to do instead of getting a real job.

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Todd Barry: "I don't want to be known as 'the guy who doesn't have an act' or something like that"

Categories: Comedy, Interview
Mindy Tucker
For many  comedians, the thought of going onstage without any prepared material is the stuff of nightmares. Todd Barry is not one of those comedians. In 2013, the quick-witted standup veteran of over 25 years headed out on what he called the Crowd Work Tour, leaving his jokes at home and relying entirely on passing a microphone around and interacting with audiences. The shows went well, so he did another tour later in the year, this time followed by a camera crew for a documentary that Barry's friend Louis C.K. produced and recently released on his website.

The special, the second that C.K. has released by someone other than himself, follows Barry through all seven shows of the tour. It has it all: the good, the bad (mainly people in the audience trying to be funny), and the hilariously awkward, like when he had to stop making fun of an audience member who was not only serving in the military, but had also driven 200 miles to be there.

Barry has decided to do one last Crowd Work Tour, which includes a stop at the Cedar Cultural Center this Wednesday. Dressing Room connected with him ahead of the gig to talk about the two previous Crowd Work Tours, the special, and some of his other roles and projects.

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Deon Cole talks Black Box, Googling himself

Categories: Comedy
Photo: Jeremy Freeman
Deon Cole isn't someone you forget easily.

He's been synonymous with Conan O'Brien since his brief Tonight Show run back in 2009, and has been a writer and performer on Conan since its inception, becoming one of the show's only breakout stars that isn't a puppet. Last year, he made the leap from supporting player to host with his own show on TBS, Deon Cole's Black Box, while finding his way into numerous TV and movie parts.

Whether he's talking about politics, sports, or the lack of diversity on The Bachelor, Cole's observations and fearlessness have made him one of the funniest comedians in the country for the past two decades.

Before he visits Rick Bronson's House of Comedy this Thursday through Sunday, we talked with Deon about Black Box, Googling himself, and being a liar.

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We played "F*ck, Marry, Kill" with Kristen Schaal

Categories: Comedy
Is there anything that Kristen Schaal can't do?

Whether she's playing the psychotically obsessed NBC page Hazel Wassername on 30 Rock, psychotically obsessed Conchords super fan Mel on Flight of the Conchords, or voicing the manipulative, crazed (possibly psychotic) youngest sibling Louise Belcher on Bob's Burgers, Schaal is an unmistakable comedy force who can (and usually does) steal any scene.

She's voiced countless animated characters, co-written a sexy book of sex called The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex, and appeared in dozens of television shows and movies. The one thing all of these things have in common? They're hilarious.

This Friday night, Schaal will add "hilarious public radio show guest" to her resume, when she makes her triumphant return to MPR's Wits.

Before she joins host John Moe, Schaal took a few minutes out of her busy day to talk about comedy and cartoons, and to play a quick game of "Fuck, Marry, Kill."

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Cheech Marin talks comedy, cartoons, and weed (obviously)

Categories: Comedy
If you've ever heard of marijuana, chances are you know about Cheech and Chong. The original stoners of comedy have one of the longest lasting careers in history, with dozens of albums, films, and even an animated feature to their names.

Thirty-six years after the release of their cult classic film, Up in Smoke, the duo is once again hitting the road, appearing this Friday night at Mystic Lake Casino as part of their "Up in Smoke" tour alongside funk veterans WAR.

Before he blazes up Mystic Lake, we talked with Cheech Marin about comedy, cartoons, and how much it costs to smoke with him and Chong (hint: more than you can afford).

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Jeff Caldwell: "I insist that people address me as 'Doctor'"

Categories: Comedy
For some parents, their worst fear is that their child will forgo the somewhat "safe" route of heading to college and getting a real job in favor of becoming something like an actor or a  standup comedian. That makes Jeff Caldwell those parents' worst nightmare. "I was in grad school pretending to work on my Ph.D. thesis when I saw an ad for an open mic in downtown Baltimore," he says of his comedy beginnings. "I went; I was terrible; yet decided I needed to continue. I began to get paid, and one day just didn't go back to school."

This weekend Caldwell will perform four shows at the Mystic Comedy Club inside Mystic Lake Casino. Known for his witty but still clean comedy stylings, Caldwell has become a huge success at the clubs, corporate gigs, and late-night talk shows. And as for that abandoned Ph.D.? He hasn't forgotten. "I didn't complete my program, but I do insist that people address me as 'Doctor.'"

Before his stop here in Minnesota, we spoke with the comedian about his talk show credits, corporate gigs, and apologies on behalf of SiriusXM radio.

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Watch Isaac Witty on Conan

Categories: Comedy
Last night, local comedian Isaac Witty was the featured standup on Conan. During the set, he got laughs talking about hair loss, awkward handshakes, and wanting to work at the Mall of America. Witty is known around town for his clean and funny style, and has previously performed at just about every comedy venue in the Twin Cities, while also participating in fun events like Punchline Punchout and his sketch group, the Turkeys.

Watch him be funny on Conan after the jump.

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Local comedian Isaac Witty on Conan tonight

Categories: Comedy

Another Twin Cities comedian will be showing up on the small screen tonight. Isaac Witty is set to perform on Conan.

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Chris Gethard on cable access, the Replacements, shooting a pilot for TCGS

Categories: Comedy
Photo by Zac X Wolf

So far, 2014 could not be much better for comedian Chris Gethard. His first album, My Comedy Album, will be released in April, and a few weeks ago he was selected to do one of Comedy Central's half-hour specials this year. On top of that, he fulfilled the dream of every cable access show producer when Comedy Central ordered a pilot episode of The Chris Gethard Show. The live, call-in show, which has aired in New York City since 2011, features loveable underdog Gethard and his crew of weirdos (the Human Fish, for instance). Special guest have included Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, and Jack McBrayer, as they tackle a predetermined theme each show. Past episodes have centered around Gethard getting his ass kicked by a kickboxer, critiquing phone calls to the show as they are received, and the aforementioned Galifianakis giving haircuts to studio audience members.

As he waits to find out the fate of his show, Gethard will be at Acme Comedy Co. for five nights. City Pages caught up with him to discuss the pilot filming and what's next.

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Hannibal Buress: "It's real trippy to hear your own voice come out of a cartoon character high"

Categories: Comedy
Despite all of the television work he's been doing lately -- which includes playing guest host for The Eric Andre Show, voiceover work for shows like Chozen and China, IL, and recurring bit parts on Comedy Central's Broad City -- comedian Hannibal Buress's first love is still standup. This Saturday, he hits the stage at Varsity for two shows. City Pages caught up with Buress to talk about his expanding career and unique approach to doing sets.

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