Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Lifestyles

March 24, 2013

Make 'em laugh

South Point comedy club gives new, local talent a forum

ASHLAND — Everybody’s a comedian.

Perhaps not, but now there’s a chance for aspiring local comics to get onstage and for those who enjoy a good laugh to see live, local performances.

“The Studs of Comedy Presents: The Whiskey River Comedy Showcase” is offered at 8 p.m. biweekly on Mondays at Whiskey River Saloon in South Point. The free show gives local stand-up comedians the chance to try comedy in front of a live audience and also offers performances from touring veteran comics.

The host of the show is Lee Mays, a comedian originally from Coal Grove who has done shows in the area as well as in Chillicothe and Newport. He is set to be the featured performer at the First Capital Music Hall on May 7 in Chillicothe with Dan Dean of South Charleston and headliner Marcus Oglesby of Huntington.

He said fellow comedian Adam Grubb approached him about hosting the comedy show and he jumped at the chance.

“I feel this area is ripe for this type of entertainment, especially since The Funny Bone in Huntington has closed,” he said.

Mays said this is the only local show of its kind in Lawrence County.

Question: Has there been an opportunity like this in the area previously?

Mays: There’s open mic nights at certain venues in the area where someone who wants to try stand-up comedy can perform. The difference between us and them is that we try and book touring comedians from out of the area. However, all of us try and give anyone the chance to perform a comedy act.

Question: How many local comedians were there last time? More or fewer than expected or about what you expected or did you know what to expect?

Mays: It was as expected. One performer had to cancel due to an emergency. However, the other comics stepped up to the plate and filled out the time nicely with hilarious performances.

Question: Were the acts G rated or more R rated?

Mays: The acts are definitely R-rated. However, that's up to the comedian on stage whether his or her act is G or R rated; there’s room enough for everybody. The topics range from mocking pop culture, politics, relationships and everything the comedian finds ripe for parody.

Question: Were you surprised by the quality of the acts?

Mays: It Is a different world on stage. You get in front of people who may be either drunk, judgmental, and you have to say something to grab their attention and keep it.

My first show, I bombed. I opened the show and was very nervous performing alongside other comics who have been doing it longer than I have.

Like anything else in this life, you have to work for it, hone your act and practice. I did all of that and got some advice from fellow comics, and it earned me a featured spot in Chillicothe in May. Some people say they couldn’t do it, others say they can. We give anyone the opportunity to come up on stage.

Question: It’s called “Studs of Comedy.” Are women performers welcome?

Mays: “The Studs of Comedy” is the name of a group of comedians started by Carlin Hagerty, a comedian from McArthur, Ohio, who’s performing at our March 11 show, and Steve “Pops” Gaines, the headliner of our first show on Feb. 25.

That group does include some very funny women. Women are always welcome to perform. In fact, we had a very funny female comedian named Angela Davis performing at our first show and she did extremely well. Three female comics were scheduled at our March 11 show.

Comedy knows no gender discrimination. Lucille Ball, Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller are some of the most hilarious comedians of all time, regardless of sex. They blazed a trail for women like Tina Fey, Sara Schaefer, Amy Schumer and Ellen Degeneres. Men and women are definitely equal when it comes to comedy.

Question: What advice do you have for someone who might be interested in doing comedy on  stage who hasn’t done it before?

Mays: Practice, practice, practice. Write, write, write. There’s more opportunities these days than ever to do comedy, whether it be on stage, writing for another comic, improv. Find your niche and go with it.

Question: How do you develop comic writing? Is it just a real flair for the funny?

Mays: I believe comic writing comes out of observing the comedian’s take on anything that’s going in his or her life. Whatever the comedian feels is ridiculous or absurd, whether it be things going in their job, family life, or walking down the street. They shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and speak their mind. If they hold back, not only would they be cheating themselves out of something that’s potentially funny, but they also might be cheating their potential audience out of something that could go over well.

However, with anything, comic writing takes time to develop. It also helps to have good grammar and spelling skills, as well.

Although there are comic classes offered throughout the country — and some are taught by successful touring comedians — there's also several books on stand-up comedy and comedy writing. One is “The Comedy Bible” by Judy Carter, which is one of the most popular books on the subject.

Question: How do you gauge how funny you really are?

Mays: To gauge how funny you are or how funny you think you are, the best judge of that is to get up on stage in front of an audience and prove it. Even if you fail your first time, use that to improve yourself. Louis CK was so discouraged his first time that he didn’t do stand-up for a few years. Now, he's an Emmy-award winning writer who's written for the Chris Rock Show, David Letterman, etc. Plus, his show "Louie" on FX is critically acclaimed and he's one of the funniest stand-up comedians today. The key phrase is "work at it." Nothing in life is handed to anyone, unless of course you're Paris Hilton.

“The Studs of Comedy Presents: The Whiskey River Comedy Showcase” is at 8 p.m. every other Monday at Whiskey River Saloon in South Point. The next show is March 25. Shows are free and local comedians are encouraged to perform. For more information, call (740) 377-9077.  To inquire about bookings or performing, email whiskeyriveropenmic@gmail.com.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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