Comedy show, Shmomedy Shmow

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but I am currently dating a stand-up comic. As such, I have learned a thing or two about what great comedy is.

Do me a favor and suppress the immediate reflex to start cycling through popular names like Dane Cook, Daniel Tosh, or, God forbid, Jeff Dunham. I understand, you don’t know any better. That’s why I’m here.

Even if you’re the type to list the all-time greats like George Carlin, Bill Hicks, or Lenny Bruce, give yourself a pat on the back, but cut it out. While these names deserve to be held in the highest regard and hailed with the utmost respect, they are but a few names among many.

Comedy is ever-evolving. It is severely limiting if you only expose yourself to the tried and true top ten list, conveniently retrieved for you by the search engine of your choice. The aforementioned comedic geniuses molded by hand the state of comedy, manipulating it by pushing the envelope of their field and testing the limits of their audiences. These men have permanently impacted the history and future of comedy. But they are not alone.

While comedy is perhaps most accessible by pushing a few buttons on a remote control, or typing a few key words on a computer, everything that can be found on television or online makes up but a small fraction of what is happening in the comedy world at any given time.

Comedy is ongoing. Watching 1983’s “Bill Cosby: Himself” is an absolute joy, but in those 105 minutes, at least 100 lesser-known comedians around the country bombed, and at least 100 others had the set of their lives. And what are their names?

This is why I think it is such a privilege to be involved in the St. Louis comedy scene. You’ve got your universally recognized comedy pioneers. You’ve got your “Why are they even famous?” pop-culture exploiting, show-hosting, puppeteering comics. But hiding in hole-in-the-wall bars, back rooms of restaurants, and alcoholic-infested comedy clubs, a new wave of creativity swells, with innovative and determined people, young and old, fighting to make their dreams come true at all costs.

I have been lucky enough to witness what some might call “up-and-comers” develop into titans of the St. Louis comedy scene. That is one of the great joys of local comedy; not only do you get to witness some truly fantastic sets by consistently incredible performers, but you also get to watch comics metamorphose from mere chuckle-producing caterpillars into full-fledged, applause-break-earning butterflies who steal any show, regardless of the lineup.

But for some of them, it won’t happen, despite how hard they strive to get their names out there. The business of comedy is absolutely ruthless. Natural selection is a force in the business of comedy just as it is in nature. Let’s continue the caterpillar analogy from earlier. Some caterpillars are better at spinning cocoons than others. Some caterpillars are bigger and can compete for food more efficiently. Some caterpillars make people laugh more than others.

Comedy only wants the best of the best. It wants the guys who come out to every open mic night and stick around regardless of whether they get up or not. It wants the guys who respect the art form and don’t clutter their acts with tasteless material. It wants the guys who have something special to bring to the table, something to set them apart from the other 50 amateur comics waiting to sign up, all completely ravenous to see their name on the list of the lucky 15 who get to perform. It wants the guys who know the rules of the comedy game and live by them religiously. If you don’t play the game right, you don’t get stage time. If you don’t get stage time, you disappear.

Lucky for the people of St. Louis, four of the funniest local comics have banded together to bring us “Shmomedy Shmow,” a monthly showcase held at The Fox Hole, a performance space attached to the eclectic nighttime hotspot The Atomic Cowboy in The Grove. The showcase features Denver native and winner of the first RFT Standup Throwdown Erik Anker, St. Louis filmmaker and RFT Standup Throwdown runnerup Kenny Kinds, St. Louis actor and comedian Frankie Chubb, and Andrew Frank, St. Louis comic and bearded boyfriend of mine.

These four funny fellows are accompanied by a musical act; the first Shmomedy Shmow featured Collinsville-based Math Rock duo Stonechat, and the next show, scheduled for Nov. 2 at 9:30 p.m., is set to showcase the musical stylings of a performer named Typewriter Tim, who integrates Maurice Sendak’s popular children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are” with, for lack of a better term, “trippy” beats.

As well as musical guests, Shmomedy Shmow also showcases extremely funny headliners. Winner of the distinguished “Editor’s Choice Award” on the Comedy Channel, St. Louis comedian Matt Conty did an incredible set at the premiere show.

The cover charge is only $5, which is quite a bargain for a night full of laughs. These four comics work endlessly, most of the time without pay, primarily to make crowds laugh, but also to challenge and leave their mark on the future of comedy.

Comedy is more than Comedy Central. Comedy is more than Hollywood and Los Angeles and New York. Comedy is here. It’s now. It’s down the street, in your backyard. I’m inviting you to witness history in the making.

So mark your calendars.



If you’re dying to confess your love to me or tell me you hate my guts, don’t be afraid to contact me. My email is [email protected], and my twitter is @sweeeeeens. Thanks for reading.

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