Well-Seasoned Comedy

Take your mind off Trump with improv, stand-up and more

Aug 23, 2017 at 10:09 am
click to enlarge Alton Brown - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
Alton Brown

In one sense, the past eight months of having Donald Trump as our president have been an endless source of comedic entertainment, and yet in another we’ve somehow been transformed into lemmings, laughing all the way to the precipice. We need a more satisfying brand of comedy, something that makes us laugh and think without the nasty side effect of wanting to open a vein in an unclosable manner. We need quality chortles and guffaws, my friends, and thankfully there will be plenty available in the area throughout the upcoming fall season. Here are some of the events that will help us laugh until we cry... for all the right reasons.

Fourth-Annual Improv Festival Cincy

(Sept. 6-10, Know Theatre, Over-the-Rhine)

Local troupe OTRimprov has once again assembled a stellar lineup for its fourth IF Cincy, held at Know Theatre. It’s a veritable murderer’s row of improv masters from all over the country — Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Diego, Atlanta, Detroit, Nashville, Tenn. and Ann Arbor, Mich. — as well as our own homegrown geniuses, for five nights of unscripted hilarity. Originally envisioned by OTRi as a way to showcase both the area’s brilliant improv talent and the city they call home, IF Cincy has grown into a festival with national impact. This year’s headliners include Heyday, featuring members of Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade, among others; Big Ol’ Show, featuring Archer voice talent Amber Nash and Matt Horgan from Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta; and Matt Damon Improv, a Chicago group comprised solely of women of color. (Nearly half of this year’s festival participants are women.) 

This year also features an Improv Jam on the festival’s opening night, where anyone who wants to take the stage is welcome. There will also be four improv workshops on the fest’s Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday. The full IF Cincy schedule and ticket details are available at ifcincy.com. As OTRi project manager Kat Smith says, “Let’s show people how many different ways this can be done, and let’s blow people away with the incredible talent we have in the city.” Tickets/more info: ifcincy.com.

John Cleese and the Holy Grail 

(Oct. 8, Taft Theatre, Downtown)

Founding Monty Python member and brilliant comedic actor and author John Cleese has been rewriting the rules of humor for well over 50 years. In his latest stage production, Cleese regales the audience with tales of his long, illustrious career within and beyond the Pythons before taking questions about the same. The evening’s one caveat is in the small print: non-serious questions only. What else would you expect from the Minister of Silly Walks? Tickets/more info: tafttheatre.org.

John Mulaney 

(Oct. 20, Aronoff Center, Downtown)

Fresh off his hugely successful four-month Broadway run with comedy partner Nick Kroll in Oh, Hello, writer/actor/producer John Mulaney returns to stand-up with his latest tour, Kid Gorgeous. Mulaney, once an intern at Comedy Central, was nominated for an Emmy for his 2015 Netflix special The Comeback Kid; he was Emmy-nominated four times with the writing staff of Saturday Night Live, where he worked for six years and earned his master’s degree in funny. Tickets/more info: cincinnatiarts.org/aronoff-center.

Pauly Shore

(Oct.  20-21, Liberty Funny Bone, Liberty Twp.)

If you’re under the mistaken assumption that Pauly Shore’s stoner goofball persona and wildly improbable spoof movies are the products of a THC-soaked one-trick pony, you haven’t seen his breathtaking impression of White House cadaver Stephen Miller on Funny or Die!. Even more surprising is Shore’s award-winning and emotionally wrenching documentary Pauly Shore Stands Alone on Amazon Prime. Tickets/more info: liberty.funnybone.com.

Alton Brown 

(Oct. 21, Aronoff Center, Downtown)

You know Alton Brown is a funny guy from his hosting stints on Good Eats, Iron Chef America, Feasting on Asphalt and Cutthroat Kitchen, and his podcast, The Alton Browncast. You know he’s a music guy from his 2016 food-themed album Bitter Like Me. And you know he’s a smart guy because he’s written close to a dozen books. You also know Brown’s Eat Your Science show at the Aronoff will be entertaining because apparently you know stuff. Tickets/more info: cincinnatiarts.org.

Eddie Griffin 

(Oct. 27-28, Liberty Funny Bone, Liberty Twp.)

Eddie Griffin began his comedy career nearly 30 years ago and quickly moved from stand-up to film acting, ultimately starring in more than 50 movies including Undercover BrotherJohn Q, the Deuce Bigelow series and Scary Movie 3. He made his mark on television on UPN’sMalcolm & Eddie. Griffin made Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time list, and he’s still got plenty of edge: His comedy special You Can Tell ’Em I Said It proved that with his very forward declaration about his attraction to Michelle Obama. Tickets/more info: liberty.funnybone.com.

David Sedaris 

(Oct. 30, Aronoff Center, Downtown)

David Sedaris isn’t exactly a comedian. In fact, he might not be exactly anything at all. The award-winning author’s writing is heart-stoppingly hilarious. Sedaris definitely taps into the full range of emotion during An Evening with David Sedaris. It might even qualify as an evening and a half before it’s over. Tickets/more info: cincinnatiarts.org.

Sebastian Maniscalco

(Nov. 9, Taft Theatre, Downtown)

Sebastian Maniscalco capped his nearly 20-year stand-up career with his funniest hour-long Showtime special to date, 2016’s Why Would You Do That?. His manic energy and wild-eyed observations on everyday life definitely point to two of his avowed influences, Brian Regan and Andrew Dice Clay, but his comedic voice is all his own. Tickets/more info: tafttheatre.org. ©