We went straight to the bookers, club owners, managers and producers who put together some of the best comedy shows in the country in 2015, and asked them their favorite moments in comedy this year. The answers they gave us, represent some of the brightest and best talents in the country, and we’re excited to share them.
Some of you will scan through this to see the names mentioned, but take the time to individually read these entries. They represent the different voices of comedy all over America, and they are unique as the clubs they represent. If you think comedy is the same everywhere, I hope this piece will change your mind. It represents everything that everyone who works to create The Interrobang love about this business. Enjoy the best of comedy 2015 from the best clubs in the country like Gotham Comedy Club, The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, the Improv, the Stand, New York Comedy Club, Comedy on State, Helium and more!!
It’s so difficult to pick a great moment– we get the surprise guests, the Seinfelds, Louis CK’s, Amy Schumers, and Amy is special because she’s a product of this club, so its amazing to see the kind of success that she has now. But I have to say the thing that stands out the most to me in 2015 is that we filmed our 100th episode of the tv show that we do with Mark Cuban, Gotham Comedy Live on AXS TV on December 3rd, and it was a really special night. We brought back some of the hosts that had done the show – Orlando Jones, Jackie the Jokeman, Mario Cantone, Gilbert Gottfried and Artie Lange– and it started me thinking about how many comics we booked on the show which is close to 500, many who got their first break on tv with us. Like Michael Che got a tv break on this show now he’s on Saturday Night Live, Pete Davidson same thing and there are some newer guys that are starting to break now that had their first tv appearance on this show. It’s not a huge budget show and we’ve gotten tremendous hosts over the years, like J.B. Smoove, Tom Papa, Jay Mohr, Kathleen Madigan, Jimmy JJ Walker, Darrell Hammond, Carlos Mencia, Margaret Cho, Tommy Chong, Sinbad, Lewis Black, and so many more. It was a magical night.
One of the most memorable moments from 2015 was The Meltdown Show celebrating its five year anniversary. Naturally, the theme of the night was “Disney’s Frozen Birthday Party.” This was a crazy fun night, complete with hosts Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani wearing princess costumes and blonde wigs that were way too small, party favors for the audience, and a Frozen cake depicting Jonah as Olaf the snowman. The lineup was stacked with Chris Garcia, Robert Dean, Dimitri Martin, Brent Weinbach, and Ali Wong. Also, at the end of the show, they announced the return of The Meltdown Season Three on Comedy Central, which the crowd had to celebrate in silence because the news hadn’t gone public yet, and a Comedy Central executive was in the audience. Just one of many great nights at NerdMelt!
There were tons of incredible moments that took place at The Stand in 2015, as we celebrated our 3rd full year! Some highlights included kicking off the year with a live SiriusXM Unmasked taping with Ron Bennington interviewing Robert Kelly. Both men are two of my all-time favorites, so it was such a thrill to watch. Bringing Brian Moses‘ vision of his Roast Battle show at The Comedy Store to the Stand, with The RoastMasters NYC. It was an honor having the Roast Master General himself, Jeff Ross, come down for a few events and place his seal of approval on what we are doing. One of the top battle highlights was at our Championship Show, when RoastMasters host Luis J. Gomez had to battle against the ghost of his dead father (Aaron Berg).
Having Tracy Morgan swing by The Stand the night of his glorious return to stand-up comedy. Everything felt right seeing him back on our stage once again, and he hasn’t skipped a beat. Bill Burr stopping in 2 nights before his sold out Madison Square Garden Show for his AllThingsComedy.com network show. Nothing beats seeing a top act work on new material in such a small, intimate venue like ours. Filming a hilarious spoof of the famous Billy Batts scene from Goodfellas to promote our Summer Of The Stand 2 campaign. Watching Sean Patton, Yannis Pappas, Paul Virzi, Mike Recine, and more channel their inner mobster was hilarious. The success of Frantic!, Stand-Up On The Spot, and The Mash-Up Show. Watching comedians perform outside of their act is always a treat and a testament to their natural abilities to create laughter. Having Big Jay Oakerson & Impractical Jokers star Sal Vulcano team up on a Mash-Up Show was absolute magic.
Speaking of Big Jay: I would have to say that watching him ascend to the next level in the comedy business was my personal highlight. He is an example of what being undeniably funny can get you. Jay has put in so much work and to see him finally get his due was something I’ll always cherish. This was the year of Big Jay, and I can not wait to see what 2016 brings him! Back in 2006, I named Big Jay the Cringe Humor Up & Coming Comedian Of The Year, so it’s great to see him finally live up to that almost 10 years later!
There’s one moment for sure for 2015. Kurt Braunholer‘s show Roustabout has been a staple of the festival because he’s just so incredibly creative and weird. Last year he made it snow. Every year Kurt will call me and ask things like, can we put a dunk tank on the stage? So they called me last year and said can we put a snow machine on the roof? And I said, I think so. We crawled up to the roof and put a snow machine up there and as the show was ending, when people were leaving, there was snow falling as you left the venue and everyone was just drinking in the alleyway. It was probably very illegal but there’s magic that happens at the festival and those moments truly define it.
The Punchline was forced to relocate this year, and close down the location they’ve been in since 1982. The move included having to spend the summer doing pop up shows in other locations. In the club’s last two weeks before the move, we had Bill Burr come in for a couple of last sets, we had Billy Gardel, Brian Regan came over and popped up on the stage for a last pop in guest set, which was fantastic. And then on our very last night we had James Gregory and J. Anthony Brown who were the first comedians to ever perform at the Punchline on the night we opened. Both came back, Ron White came up and did a guest set that night, and then we closed out with Craig Robinson.
It was also a good year for Atlanta Comedy. We had Clayton English who won Last Comic Standing. He was with us at one of our very first pop up shows over the summer. It was really a terrific year for the future, the present day and the past in Atlanta.
2015 has been a great year for us at Comedy on State! We are blessed to have some of the best audiences in the country which has led us to become a place where comedians will record their comedy albums. We have averaged about one per month for the last two years! November was an amazing month where we got to record 3 albums in a row for some AMAZING comics. Wyatt Cenac recorded his 3rd album here the first weekend in November. It was followed by Rory Scovel and then Chad Daniels. (Rory is my personal favorite comedian and Chad Daniels is a close second) The best part of all this was watching Rory Scovel go through the motions of recording his second album. Rory brings art back to stand-up comedy and no show is ever the same. He asks for a piano on stage, we find a way to get it up there, he uses it for ONE JOKE! The joke is well worth it. It’s tough to pick out one particular moment as the best, being a part of all these album recordings is truly fantastic and it doesn’t go unappreciated. Here’s to many more in 2016!
We were extremely fortunate to have a ton of great comics come through Philly this year but the greatest satisfaction came from seeing some of our homegrown talent excel. I have had the pleasure of watching Philly bred comics, John McKeever, Tommy Pope, and Tim Butterly, perform and create online content for the past few years and knew it was only a matter of time before their careers would go to the next level. They decided to do a live screening of their first episode of Delco Proper, a Comedy Central Web Series, that was set to debut a few days later. The episode played in front of a sold out crowd at the club and everyone in the room was blown away. It was received with intense laughter and raucous applause. The best part for me was seeing so many Philly comics in the webisode. It was a very proud night for the Philly scene. More episodes are set to debut soon and I can’t wait to see where these guys take the show.
2015 has been so incredibly spectacular at the Comedy Store that it truly feels surreal to me. I had to break out my calendar because there were too many epic nights to keep track of. I’m writing this immediately following a sold out Louis C.K. show in our main room which seems very appropriate considering the year it has been. First off, I can’t even begin to describe how happy it makes me to see the likes of Joe Rogan, Al Madrigal and Joey Diaz performing on our stages again on a regular basis. They are invaluable to this club in countless ways and were sorely missed. Those homecomings coupled with the additions of David Spade, Greg Fitzsimmons, Judd Apatow, Anthony Jeselnik, Nikki Glaser, Ron White, Tom Papa, Rob Schneider, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Harland Williams, Godfrey, Adam Devine, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Tom Green, etc. have helped form some pretty memorable lineups for us.
Some of my favorite moments of 2015 include Dave Attell’s Underground Comedy Show in April which featured Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Marc Maron, Greg Fitzsimmons and Whitney Cummings. The night of the All Things Comedy Podcast in November with Bill Burr & Al Madrigal and featuring Joe Rogan, Ralphie May, Steve Byrne, Felipe Esparza, Eddie Pepitone and Sam Tripoli. My personal favorite night, however, had to be the David Spade & Friends Show in October which featured Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and Nick Swardson. Finally, it has also been wonderful to watch the Comedy Store Roast Battle continue to grow each month under the incredible leadership of Jeff Ross and Brian Moses along with the support of so many including Earl Skakel, Jason Reitman, Coach Tea and more. I can’t wait to see what the Comedy Store will be able to accomplish in 2016. We all at the Comedy Store owe everything to Mitzi Shore and the unique artist colony she created forty plus years ago.
Follow the Comedy Store on Twitter @TheComedyStore and get more information on the web at hollywood.thecomedystore.com.
This year we had so many highlights, but the one that really stands out, was we did a comedy competition at the club, to celebrate the comedians who made the commitment to bust their butts to do our late night and who audition for us. It was my partner Scott Lindner‘s idea. We set it up to give the comics their due. We chose the 20 comedians who we felt really committed to be a part of our club. We had a live band, with an old school comedy vibe. We had a ton of comics hanging out and it just felt like a cool thing we were doing. The comics were excited. We just felt it was great to see them have a night for themselves. There were serious industry people there. he first show went from 20 people, to almost sold out to completely sold out and every judge was blown away. The top 5 comics all got interest from management and two of the comics got auditions for Americas Got Talent.
The finalists were Joe Newman, Katie Haller, Philip Corbin, Jocelyn Chia who came in second, and the winner was and Brendan Sagalow. That was a really defining moment for us- the kind that really makes you happy about what you’re doing. These was a really honest pure organic thing we wanted to do. We wanted to give young comics opportunities. You are the comics who have really shown us a lot this year and we wanted to give them an opportunity to show that off. If you don’t know who Jocelyn Chia is, get to know her. One of the industry guys said, this girl would win Last Comic Standing. Another one said “who is that girl!?” She’s so great but she’s so new that she couldn’t even understand the response she got. She graduated from a comedy class four months ago with a standing ovation. And it was really a team effort.
It was great to see the taping of our first TV special. Just like any other festival show, we didn’t rehearse beforehand, give the comedians notes, or coach the audience, so the special has the spontaneity of any live SXSW show and the crowd’s response was genuine. It was a fun night and a great atmosphere. I think you can feel and hear it in the specials that aired on Showtime this summer. That’s probably my favorite moment, but I’ll forever smile thinking about how Chris Rock showed up unannounced and was nearly turned away from a show. He came to see Hannibal Buress and Eric André and the venue was at capacity but, thankfully, someone with the festival stepped in to invite him in.
Get more information on Comedy at SXSW on Twitter @sxsw and on the web at ” target=”_blank”>sxsw.com/comedy.
Its been quite an interesting year. Unfortunately, we had to deal with the fire in Piper’s Alley – which was really one of the scariest moments of our theater’s history. Fortunately, we have an incredible community which rallied and gave us the support we needed to recover in record time. A couple of highlights from this year are the tremendous success of the 24 Hour: Site for Sore Eyes benefit for families of Onward Neighborhood House raised over $300,000 and the opening of our new Mainstage show, Fool Me Twice, Deja Vu which is fantastic.
Follow Second City on twitter @TheSecondCity and visit their website secondcity.com for more information.
It’s so hard to decide. So I think I’ll have to choose the time I laughed the hardest. It was the final night of Moontower and the next to last show at the Vulcan Gas Company. I recall actually sitting down which is unusual. The show was Stars in Bars hosted by Matt Bearden and the lineup was incredibly hot including Emo Philips, Hasan Minhaj, Tom Papa, Andy Kindler, Emily Heller, David O’Doherty…. By the time Eddie Pepitone took the stage the crowd was in a lather. We didn’t think it could get any better but Eddie’s explosive style pushed the entire audience over an edge they didn’t even know was there. At one point, our entire row was doubled over…you know that feeling when you are shaking with laughter and can’t stop? It was like that…for 5 minutes. Comedy hurts.
For a few years now, our staff’s favorite weekend of the year is our standing November date with Joey “Coco” Diaz. Joey comes into Portland like a whirlwind of energy. He brings the joy. He remembers staff names year after year, running jokes, and when he turns at you and erupts into his hearty, genuine laugh, it feels like the two of you are the only people in the room. Portland is Joey’s town. Fans hang around for hours after the show hoping to get a few minutes of his time. Some of them want to have a smoke with him, some of them want to tell him a story. Some of them are looking for something more. At one point, while talking with some fans in the bar after the show, Joey dropped to the floor. Everyone rushed over to help him, thinking that he had tripped or hurt himself somehow, only to find Joey rolling around on the floor giving one of his fans a friendly lesson in Jiu Jitsu.
Working in a comedy club, you quickly begin to look forward to some weekends and dread others. Joey Diaz’s name will always be circled on the calendar in Portland.
Follow Helium in Portland on Twitter @heliumcomedyPDX and get more information at heliumcomedy.com/portland.
I think the biggest thing around these parts is the continued success of Denver comedians both in and OUTSIDE of Denver. The Grawlix guys getting renewed before the season of Those Who Can’t is even released is a testament to how much they’ve outworked everyone else to make great television. The fact that the Nix Brothers and Bobcat Goldthwait directed a lot of this is icing on the cake. They’re the funniest dudes and we’re all chasing them. In Denver, having Anthony Jeselnik headline High Plains Comedy Festival with friends like Nikki Glaser, Karen Kilgariff and Drennon Davis and Denver standout Aaron Urist was pretty god damn special. Being able to expand into an 1800 person theater and sell that out to cap off the festival was a bit of a dream. The Fine Gentleman’s Club (Sam Tallent, Nathan Lund, Chris Charpentier and Bobby Crane) also KILLED it at the festival per usual.
As far as Sexpot Comedy goes, GQ named us one of the 5 Funniest Nights in America and we’re working hard to live up to that name. It also felt insanely gratifying to perform at shows in Los Angeles myself like Hot Tub with Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal, Good Heroine w Dave Ross and Matt Ingebretson and a show I did at Nerdmelt with Sara Benincasa where I told about my first experience pleasuring a woman. I wasn’t sure the crowd was ready for a story about ‘Clownmouth’ but they jumped right on board. I loved it.
Some highlights of 2015 include having Pat McGann make his second appearance on Late Night with David Letterman before Dave signed off. Pat is a local phenomenon who deserves more national attention. Hannibal Buress doing two shows, September 14 at Zanies in Chicago. Every time Hannibal returns to a room he has obviously outgrown in terms of ability to sell tickets. It is just amazing and I am astounded by how well that intimate room fits him and how masterful his shows are. A night like this makes what I do the best job in the world.
The continued success of Zanies in Rosemont – in my opinion the best designed comedy club in the country. Seeing my old friend Jeff Garlin captivate in such an intimate and friendly environment for an entire weekend is truly priceless. Seeing Joe Machi at Zanies for the first time after watching him advance at The Great American Comedy Festival a year prior (and of course do so well on Last Comic Standing) gives me hope for standup comedy. Just as funny as I remembered him to be. Every time I see Jake Johannsen – perhaps the finest standup comedian working. And the Black Hawks winning the Stanley Cup. Bad for business but great fun to watch.
2015 was an amazing year for comedy at the Knitting Factory! My top three moments start In January when Dave Chappelle dropped into our Sunday weekly show, Comedy at the Knitting Factory, for a surprise set that blew everyone away. In May, we celebrated Michael Che’s birthday with a sold out show hosted by Mike and featuring Trevor Noah, Vanessa Bayer, Colin Jost, Jesse Camp the MTV VJ(!), and more amazing guests, followed by an unforgettable, blow-out bash. But the most memorable moment of the year for me was definitely the 8th Annual Schtick or Treat. The long-standing Halloween tradition–hosted by Mark Normand and Matt Ruby–featured over 50 local comedians performing as living and dead comedy legends, and the energy was incredible! Not only did every single act kill, but the amount of work and commitment they put into their performances and the risks they took performing outside of their comfort zones were astounding. I have never seen an audience experience such genuine joy – even industry and seasoned comics had tears in their eyes from laughing. It was truly inspiring to witness the New York comedy scene come alive that night, and I am excited to see what next year will bring!
Follow @luisadieznuts @comedyattheknit and @knitfactorybk on Twitter to learn more about the shows Luisa produces.
2015 has meant a renewed energy at The Improv. The most exciting thing this year was re-opening our Lab Space again as a showroom. It’s like a little cabaret space now with a bar, and in addition to comedy, we’re booking more music and house bands to play with the comics. Sarah Silverman, Maria Bamford, Judah Friedlander and Harlan Williams are just a few of the names who have dropped in since we opened in November. A lot of people are comparing it to a New York club and it’s brought a new revitalized energy to the club. There’s also a beautiful new podcast studio and green room which is great for our community of comics.
Another highlight was having Paul McCartney coming around earlier this year– popping in to watch shows while rehearsing for his tour was just surreal and crazy. He felt comfortable here and would just kind of sneak in and watch comedy for a couple of hours, usually on Wednesday nights, creating a crazy buzz.
Other awesome things: Arsenio and Jay Leno dropping in on the same night which brought a hilarious 90’s talk show vibe to the club, Adam Sandler jamming on stage with Judd Apatow and Louis C.K. returning to the club to headline.
Follow The Hollywood Improv @HollywoodImprov and visit hollywood.improv.com.
Jokes and Notes celebrated their 10th anniversary in Chicago this year. That was a big deal to be there for ten years on the Southside in Bronzeville. When I went into that venture I wasn’t sure…I didn’t want to be cubbyholed as the black comedy club, I wanted to be THE comedy club on the south side, so I am very happy and pleased to do 10 successful years. This year there were two really special moments for me out of that ten year history, the success of two comics. Deon Cole was one of my hosts when I started. He went out to LA and started writing for Conan and now he’s on Blackish, he does Angie Tribeca. He’s doing such amazing things and he came from that platform at Jokes & Notes. And Lil Rel Howery– actually that’s his stage name, his real name is Milton Howery– but he never used that (laughs). I’m very proud of him because ten years ago he waltzed into Jokes & Notes a funny guy and just wanted to fill himself out. But he turned out to be one of my favorite comedians because he listened, he wrote well, he produced when he was supposed to, and he was just a really funny person covering stand up, improv, sketch, and I just love him. He started at Jokes and Notes on a Wednesday night open mic, and now he’s on Friends of the People on TruTV and a RELevent tour that is being produced by Kevin Hart, and now he’s doing the Carmichael Show in NBC that just got picked up again. Given the hard work, and not knowing if it would work, I feel blessed that I was able to make that difference for those two specific comics and all of the comics how have achieved.
All of my favorite comedy moments to come out of 2015 happened during our “Comedy Roulette” shows. The show is about pushing comedians outside of their comfort zone by forcing them to come up with material on the spot in front of a packed audience. It takes the best parts of improv and stand up and mixes it together to create a unique, one of a kind, hilarious show. With suggestions from the audience, comedians are given free range to explore topics and experiment on stage. Some of the most surprising stand-ups to become beasts at this are local comics, Mike Mello, Joe Perrow and Thomas Dixson. They’ve talked about everything from their deep personal regrets to what sex in space must be like and a ton of other topics that can’t be mentioned in print. To try and give a specific example of how funny some of these moments have been would never give it the justice that witnessing it first hand would. It’s the perfect, “you had to be there” show.
I think my best Comedy Moment of 2015 was our Picture This! show at the New York Comedy Festival, we were 100% sold out 400+ audience with Ilana Glazer headlining as well as Chris Gethard, Michelle Buteau & Matteo Lane both drawing and performing and it was so fun! Another big moment was John Early’s Literally Me at Joe’s Pub where his parents attended and John had a spotlight into the audience on them as he performed. It was also Neil Hamburger’s 8 Year Anniversary and we had a 2 show celebration with special guests Tim Heidecker & Reggie Watts! It was also the release of the movie based on Neil Hamburger Entertainment that won Sundance and Variety praise and you can still see in theaters now.
The Sacramento Comedy Spot hosted Cameron Esposito in October. We are primarily an improv club but several times a year we bring in stand-up comedians we really love. The Comedy Spot is an independent club. I book the acts and usually pick them up at the airport. When we bring a national headliner to the Comedy Spot its a big deal and a little bit of a risk for me and the club. We only have a 100 seat house and a beer bar. We don’t even have a two drink minimum. So, to be honest, in the back of my mind, I always want these comedians to be good people not just good comedians. Of course Cameron sold out both shows. She crushed it and Rhea Butcher was brilliant. Two fantastic shows. I walked Cameron and Rhea to the car at the end of the night and I shook Rhea’s hand and I turned to do the same to Cameron and she gave me a hug and said that she really loved our room and would spread the word that the Comedy Spot was the place to perform in Sacramento.
The car drove off and I skipped back to the Comedy Spot. Cameron and Rhea are fantastic comedians and stellar humans!
This year in Buffalo comedy has been exemplary in terms of collaboration across fields and robust content development (in addition to a number of new monthly showcases and comedy mics that could keep one busy nearly every day of the week, which is a huge deal for the kids trying to tell jokes in the B-Lo). There is one project in particular that deftly exudes this spirit of collaboration and content, and that is the Project Funny Face podcast network.
The network was ‘accidentally’ started by comedians Brian Netzel and Jimi Pidd in late 2014. Pidd wanted to enter the podcast field, and Netzel knew how to do audio recordings that could then be put into the Internet etherspace and disseminated to a listening audience. The first couple episodes of this flagship show, Piddcast, dropped in late 2014, and the second, semi-regular show, Drunkast, began in late December 2014. The other four (and counting, I’m sure) shows that comprise the Project Funny Face network all began in mid-2015 and have since helped to organically develop Buffalo’s first comedy podcast network out of a simple mixing board and a couple hand-held microphones.
The network has become the de facto record keeper of this current era of Buffalo comedy. Comprised of six regular and semi-regular podcasts hosted by Buffalo comedians, almost every show is interview-style but covers different demographics of the Buffalo culture scene, from independent wrestlers, to women in the entertainment field, to theater folks, to behind-the-scenes movers & shakers. The one show that deviates from this format is Doing Nothing is Art, which is one man’s exploration of his personal lunacy — local up-and-comer Jesse Winterhalter — and it’s legitimately one of my favorite podcasts of maybe all time, and I have listened to a hell of a lot of nonsense these last 10 years. The network also supports and publicizes comedic film shorts from across Western New York, random blogs and humor essays from local comics, and anything else that fits the general Project Funny Face sensibility and purview.
Milwaukee has become a boom town of stand up and is starting to get recognized across the country. It’s a common stop on a lot of comedians’ national tours, utilizing our larger theaters, or in the case of Amy Schumer, our basketball arena. But the true pulse of comedy in MKE is in the independent scene. There are open mics every day of the week, sometimes two in one night. Showcases are popping up at all hours of the day, in every neighborhood. The Milwaukee Comedy Festival grows every year. We’ve seen more success with our own CoK showcases which are attracting comics who’ve found it’s worth their time to make the trip to play our city. A city that loves and appreciates great comedy. It’s a good time to be telling jokes in Milwaukee. A personal highlight for us would be our midnight basement show, PROMPT, which started off as just an excuse to convince headliners to perform in the basement of one of our producer’s houses. And it worked. Sam Tallent, Adam Burke, Rebecca O’Neal and Mike Stanley are just a few of the amazing comics who’ve blessed our basement.
My favorite moment of 2015 would be Kevin Smith’s weekend. His fans came out in droves and most of which were dressed up in costume. Kevin also gave his fans a special treat with an hour of Q&A! We had a lot of fun that weekend!
I book Bar Matchless on Mondays which is Michael Che, Mike Denny and Nimesh Patel. Che comes when his SNL situation allows. We just celebrated our four year anniversary of the show and something that really stands out is that Denny took over hosting this year and he has been a comic favorite. He’s the guy that makes the back of the room laugh the most and this year I just feel like he’s taken that noticeable step up and its been really great to watch. But the biggest memorable moment is probably the night that Yannis Pappas and Joe Derosa were on the show together and they just turned and heckled each other on stage and it went on forever. It just took over the whole room and allowed this whole audience to really see comics as they are with each other. It was just them shitting on each other back and forth while each other was on stage. So that was a really funny moment. And the last thing – when Chris Gethard and Che get on stage together. Gethard just came and dropped in and so Che went up with him and Chris was doing his normal storytelling and Che was just promoting him and he ended up sharing this personal stuff you weren’t expecting to come out. They have an amazing chemistry. It’s not something you’d expect. They’re so fun to watch.
Weathering the storm of a drop in by Amy Schumer in May was one of our most memorable moments. It was a one night only special. She did about an hour and a half and the place was packed. She was in town visiting a family member and she wanted to stop in and do a show. Tickets sold out in 45 minutes and it was great!
We also held our first annual comedy blood drive with the American Red Cross and set a goal to raise 25 units of blood and ended up raising over 30! We had a roster of 35 comics who came and performed while everyone was giving blood and many of the comics donated blood themselves. It was a really cool moment mixing comedy and helping those who need it. Those 30 units will save a lot of lives. And taking the passion for comedy and combining with the passion for philanthropy combined for an amazing moment.
Follow The Chicago Laugh Factory on Twitter @laughfactory underscore ch and on the web at laughfactory.com/clubs/chicago.
The theme of 2015 as far as comedy goes, was women in comedy. Bridget Everett is a great example of that but we also had Sandra Bernhardt, Jane Lynch, a Women of Letters event that had everyone in it. Justin Vivian Bond and Katie Lazarus‘s Employee of the Month. We always joke about the Vanity Fair spread of all the late night hosts in suits. What would it look like if we put together our own Joe’s Pub ladies of late night. It would be the best photo shoot ever! We have become a hotspot for women comedians doing a range of comedy and killing it.
For me 2015 was kind of a landmark year in comedy. Not only did Doc’s Lab have it’s 1st year anniversary (with Set List Live & Eddie Pepitone) I was able to help so much local SF talent. I also not only had the chance to book, but really get to know some of my favorite and best comics working today. I’m such a fan, and having people like Margaret Cho, Jimmy Pardo, Beth Stelling and Todd Glass to name a few, be so humble and gracious makes me continue working in comedy.
With that said, my favorite moment in comedy of 2015 wasn’t even at Doc’s Lab. For me it was being backstage (well side stage actually) as Bill Burr took the stage at Madison Square Garden to a sold out crowd during the New York Comedy Festival. It was such a great moment. So many fans, myself included and just Bill himself walking up. It really reminded me of the power live comedy can have. I can’t remember the last time I felt that lucky to be anywhere. I remember thinking to myself, “Who the hell am I, and how did I get back here? Oh well, just take it all in, man”. I then stopped clapping and had one of the best nights of my life. So yeah, thanks again Bill and Joe DeRosa for getting me in. You guys killed! It meant a lot, and made me realize why I’m doing, what I’m doing. I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store. Hopefully it’s a lot like 2015…
We’ve had an amazing amazing year. I celebrated four years last Monday and when we first started doing stand up in UP they weren’t sure if we were going to be successful but we turned it around. The Break Out Comedy Festival and Diversity Showcase was a huge highlight this year. That was a collaboration with NBC, based on the Bob Curry Fellowship. Bob Curry was the first African American actor here at Second City and we created a scholarship in his name. That weekend, we curated the top diverse comedians in Chicago and elsewhere too. Another major highlight for us was having Godfrey tape his special this fall after we had the fire here. We pushed the contractors and did everything we could to get back into the room in time for his taping and he was the first to tape after the fire. But it was great and we were able to get the taping and it looked gorgeous.
Its always a pleasure having hometown boy Kyle Kinane here, he finished out the year of stand up with five sold out shows, and Nate Bargatze, and Dave Attell before him with 5 sold out shows each. Liza Treyger, hometown girl recorded her album for Comedy Central here, and we also had Trevor Noah booked before he landed the Daily Show, and he sold out 6 shows. Ellie Kemper sold out four shows.
We did a 22 episode show for the History Channel with Craig Ferguson. No offense to all the comedy fans out there, but my favorite thing in the world and the only thing above comedy is history. I’m a huge history buff. We did 22 episodes of a history based show called Join or Die with Craig Ferguson. The show was a dream because Craig Ferguson — there is no one nicer– no one more fun to work with. He’s just so fun, so funny, so cool. Getting to work with this super awesome cool hip dude who makes me look like I’ve never heard of history, literally the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me careerwise. And it will be out in February or March.