6/7: UCB’s Matt Besser @ Bongo Java

Wed. June 7 @ 7:30pm
Bongo Java After Hours Theatre
2007 Belmont Blvd.; Nashville, TN
Tix: $8 advance; $10 door
An amateur could not pull off the subject matter or format of this show.. actually, a lot of professional comics couldn’t pull this off: it’s an hour-long one man show full of religious-themed story telling and well structured stand-up with improvisational elements. The pacing is consistent and conversational. Besser is relaxed, confident and commited to the material. It’s his real life he’s telling you about.. and it’s funnier than hell.
It’s no surprise to the comedy nerds who idolize Matt Besser and envy him for his resume. After graduating from Amherst College (” where I learned how to collect CDs”), Matt toured the Midwest doing stand-up, while taking improvisation classes with Del Close at Chicago’s Improv Olympic Theater. In 1991, he became a founding member of the sketch group Upright Citizens Brigade, and with them has performed and written stage productions ever since. Starting in 1997, the UCB produced a sketch show bearing their name for three seasons on Comedy Central.
Soon after the success of the tv show the UCB opened their own comedy theater and improv school which now operates in both New York City and Los Angeles. He co-created and performed on the spoof debate show “Crossballs” for Comedy Central. He has directed several stage productions including “Feature Feature”, “Immortal Combat”, and Todd Barry in “Icky”. Besser’s one-man shows include: “How Much I Lied”, “May I Help You Dumbass?”, “Don’t Be A Dick”, and “RUhi?”. He has appeared on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and he’ll be at Nashville’s Bongo Java After Hours Theater on June 7th.

Dear Atheist, Humanist, Secularist, Theist, Cynic, & UCB Fan:
I have a show that Ive been doing for over a year at our theaters in NYC and LA. The show is essentially stand up comedy about current issues concerning the separation of church and state, and I tie these issues into the crazy letters of my Evangelical grandmother who objected to the marriage of my Jewish dad to my Protestant mother. She thought that my parents were going to hell and she would not like this show at all, G*d rest her soul.
Please inform me of any separation of church and state issues currently boiling in your state. I’d love to know about them.
Matt Besser

The subject matter doesn’t sound all that funny. “Separation of church and state” doesn’t sound like the theme of a night full of laughs so much as it sounds like a heated, drunken argument you might find going on next to a burning pile of tires somewhere between Nashville and Jackson. Matt Besser knows that. He knows Nashville is the over-sized urban-cowboy-style buckle of the Bible belt. He knows J.D. and Jimbo down at the tire fire aren’t coming to Bongo Java on a Wednesday night to see a comedy show – hell, he probably knows J.D. and Jimbo from the old days back home in Little Rock, Arkansas.

My father is a Jew from Little Rock, Arkansas. My mother was a Christian from Harrison, Arkansas.. and somehow I’m an athiest now living in LA. I was not banned from Arkansas by the Babelonians like the Jews were, I left on my own accord. The main reason I don’t live in Arkansas is because there’s not a booming comedy industry there right now.. but even if I wasn’t a comedian I don’t think I could live there because it’s a Red State.

Besser’s bias is Blue, but he doesn’t paint us all with the same Southern-red-state brush, he singles out the ignorant and intolerant among us – mostly within his own family:

At the end of her life, [my grandmother’s] prayers became so absurd that she actually started writing letters to God. Here’s two of her letters right here, you can see this one is actually addressed to God, This one has her return address on it, just in case it got stuck in the Devil’s mailbox accidentially.
On the inside, she wrote simply, “Diane and family” – that’s my mother’s name. “Diane and family – our relationship with them has been released to Christ.” and what she meant by that was, she didn’t want my family to go to Hell because my father was a Jew. So that’s what her prayers mostly consisted of for the rest of her life.

Somehow, “the half-Jew of the South” survived his Arkansas upbringing and has condensed it into joke form. His stories about learning what it means to be Jewish only from Woody Allen movies and being the only Jew at born-again Christian sports camp are funny and conversational, but not preachy or mean-spirited. Matt doesn’t belittle the beliefs of the audience, but instead offers a different, hilarious, perspective on them and some insight into his own without forcing his beliefs on you or criticizing you for thinking differently.

We don’t pray, as athiests.. we ask questions. That’s what we do. We smirk a lot when we ask them. Athiests are big smirkers. Our favorite question is: if there is a god, why would he allow blank to happen? Why would he allow a hurricane? Suicide bombers? The World Trade Center? You know, tragedies are usually upsetting to a lot of people.. but the day after tragedies, athiests are all excited ’cause they think, “I get to ask my question today!” There’s always an answer: “God works in mysterious ways.”
Don’t you wish you could use the same answer with your roommate? “Man, how come you haven’t picked up all the trash and cleaned up these dishes?”
“Well, Bob, I work in mysterious ways. Who knows my great plan?”
“Come on, Matt, take the trash out right now!”
“Bob, I will smite you. Pillars of salt do not pay the rent.”

The butt of the jokes isn’t any single belief structure.. Besser points out both the hypocrisy of the Catholic church and the ridiculous extremes of Jewish law. He discusses things as silly and trivial as sneazing and as heavy as the Terri Schiavo debate and the battle between Creationism and Evolution. He doesn’t simply sit smug on a pedistal, taking shots at both sides.. he offers alternative solutions:

I don’t believe in Creation or Evolution, I believe Santa Claus created Man as a toy for dinosaurs. And who needs Ten Commandments? Santa Claus has one commandment – don’t be naughty, be nice. Doesn’t that cover everything basically? If everyone followed that, the prisons would be empty.. except for weed dealers.

Don’t be scared, zealots! It’s just a comedy show.. and it’s a really, really good one. The harshest words are in criticism of himself, in the form of a letter his mother received from a “family friend.” This final letter that Matt reads is a heart-breaking, devastating denouncement of his family in which he is singled out and treated as a sub-human “albatross” around his mother’s neck. The very fact that Besser has the courage to confront these words, let alone read them to theaters full of strangers is an incredible thing.. but he has also turned them into one of the funniest performances you’ll ever get a chance to see live.. and that is why he has the reputation of being one of the sharpest comedic minds of our time.
The bottom line is this: you’re a damned fool if you miss this show.
Wed. June 7 @ 7:30pm
Bongo Java After Hours Theatre
2007 Belmont Blvd.; Nashville, TN
Tix: $8 advance; $10 door

5/12 & 5/13: Cat Scratch Fever Comedy Concert

Three very funny females storm the stage and take no prisoners.
Dawna Kinne, Valarie Storm & Mel Fine, in a non-stop-laughs comedy concert. Mother’s Day weekend – May 12 & May 13 – 8:00 p.m. each night – bring your mom, sister, daugther, wife, brother, son, dad, uncle, husband. It’s comedy for everyone!!
This show is rated R-17 for adult content and language.
This show will sell out so order your tickets early (only 320 Seats available per show) $15.00 (advance) $18.00 (door) $12.00 (MTSU Students w/ID).
Tickets available online at: mollyguard
Patterson Park Center Theater
521 Mercury Blvd
Murfreesboro, TN

5/4: Doug Stanhope @ Springwater

Doug Stanhope @ Springwater, May 4th
The Great White Stanhope Returns!
The infamous Doug Stanhope is back in Nashville, doing ONE SHOW ONLY at Springwater on Thursday, May 4 at 9pm with Nashville’s own, The Mattoid. Doug is currently on what he has called his “See Me Before I’m Dead Tour” of dirty little indy rock clubs.
You may remember that Doug (along with Joe Rogan) took over hosting duties at the Man Show for a while.. and then did a Girls Gone Wild dvd.. but don’t let that fool you. If you come to the show expecting him to be chanting ziggy-zaggy-ziggy-zaggy with a pack of idiot frat boys, you’re in trouble.
Doug’s stand-up is generally politically charged and / or drug-fueled. He challenges the audience to question what they’ve been spoon-fed from the media, politicians and religions.. but first and foremost he’s funny. Don’t miss him. He’s one of the comics we’ll still be talking about thirty years from now.. and I can promise you one thing: if you go to his show, chances are you’ll have a story you can tell for the rest of your life (that is, if you’re sober enough to remember any of it).
Advance tickets are available for $10 each (cash only) at Springwater. 50 of these tickets will be sold, and will get you entrance at the back door so you can avoid the line on the night of the show.
Doug Stanhope & The Mattoid
Springwater Supper Club
Thursday, May 4, 2006 @ 9pm
Doug on MySpace
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5/5, 5/6: Jarrod Harris Benefit in Atlanta

The Showcase Comedy Lounge in Atlanta will be presenting two benefit shows May 5th & May 6th at 8:30pm to benefit comedian Jarrod Harris.
Showcase Comedy’s Shawn Lesser says, “A good friend to all of us in the Atlanta Comedy Scene, comedian Jarrod Harris has suffered terrible personal losses in the last two weeks. He lost both his Mother and a sister unexpectedly – it has caused a huge emotional and financial burden on Jarrod that no one should have to bare alone. Our hearts and prayers go out to Jarrod, his family, and friends.”
In order to try to help Jarrod with the financial burden that accompanies two funerals, Showcase Comedy will have two benefit shows this weekend, headlined by Jarrod’s good friend Jim Lehner. All proceeds of the shows will go to Jarrod.
Even if you can’t make the event but would still like to help, buy a ticket online – all the proceeds will go to Jarrod. If you are making a donation and not going to the show, please write that in Paypal’s “comments” section so they can track seat availability.
Jim Lehner @ Showcase Comedy Lounge
All Proceeds to Benefit Jarrod Harris
May 5th & May 6th @ 8:30pm
donate / buy tickets online
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4/25: Louisville, KY: Comedians of Comedy

Comedians of Comedy TourIf you have a car that can make the trip.. start driving to Louisville, KY NOW and you’ll be sure to get there in time for the Comedians of Comedy Tour. Quit your job, call in dead.. whatever it takes. Buy your tickets in advance, mind you.. but don’t miss it: Headliners Music Hall in Louisville KY. Tuesday, April 25th at 9pm (Eastern).
Seriously, a bunch of Nashville comics carpool’ed to Atlanta to see the live show and were NOT disappointed. Neither was anyone else.. by popular demand, Patton released a limited run EP of the very funny, very drunken end of the show which he called, “Patton Vs. Alcohol Vs. Zach Vs. Patton“.
What I’m saying is: You’re a fool if you miss this show. Tell ’em NashvilleStandUp.com sent ya. They won’t give a crap, but tell ’em anyway!
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