R.I.P. Craig Smith (July 15, 1975 – November 5, 2015)

Craig Smith. Photo courtesy Christine Hall.
Craig Smith. Photo courtesy Christine Hall.
Photo courtesy Christine Hall.

Craig Tyler Smith jumped to his death from the Parthenon Towers building in Nashville, Tennessee the evening of November 5th, 2015. He was a comedian, an arborist, an artist, a father and a friend. Debbie Smith, Craig’s mother, says he had been to a doctor because he has been coughing up blood for months and had severe chest and back pain for the last week. Craig believed he had terminal lung cancer and, we assume, didn’t want to be a burden to his family while he withered away, suffering.

The intros for Craig Smith from emcees that knew him varied from “Satan’s favorite comic” to “a very special person.” One of the darkest and most prolific writers on the Nashville comedy scene during the early 2000’s, Craig’s persistent honesty and tales of absurdist reality set audiences up for something they didn’t see coming – laughter, even if in spite. He closed every show with the line, “See you in the future,” and you got the feeling he meant it.

L-R: Craig Smith, Ryan Williams, Jesse Perry, Chad Riden at The Cantina / Bar Car, circa 2003-4. Photo credit: Candice Self-Perry.
L-R: Craig Smith, Ryan Williams, Jesse Perry, Chad Riden at The Cantina / Bar Car, circa 2004. Photo credit: Candice Self-Perry.

After months of working out material as an active regular at The Bar Car open mic nights in Cummins Station, Craig’s first paid gig as a comic was on September 25, 2003 at Christopher Pizza on Demonbreun where he performed with Mary Mack and Chad Riden. Within a few more months he had opened for Neil Hamberger at The End, and began organizing and hosting two monthly events, the Native Engine Comedy Show at The End and NashvilleStandUp.com Presents at Hair of the Dog.

Smith also booked shows at Springwater, Edge Hill Studios, Radio Cafe (which was where Mad Donna’s is now located) and Exit/In. Craig’s contribution to Nashville StandUp can not be overstated. He created opportunities for comics while understanding the importance of promoting the community as a whole – always mentioning NashvilleStandUp.com from the stage and on his show fliers. Not only was Craig a pro-active leader within the DIY indie comedy show scene, he also got work within the comedy club circuit. He performed at Zanies Comedy Showplace in Nashville and worked as a house emcee at the Knoxville Comedy Zone, often booking and hosting his own shows there as well.

Native Engine was a well loved showcase style show where comics could do 10-15 minute sets in a punk rock environment, whereas most other comedy shows in town at the time were open mics where comics performed for 3-5 minutes. The Hair of the Dog shows from 2004-2005 were also important because of the show format. Craig hosted, doing time up front before introducing one of two comics booked for the night, who could then do whatever amount of time they wanted. Other than the ‘Truth Beauty and Goodness Coffee House’ shows in Ashland City, this was the only show comics could learn to pace themselves over a longer set and structure a half-hour or hour-long act.

Craig Smith at The Bar Car in Nashville November 4, 2003
Craig Smith at The Bar Car in Nashville, November 4, 2003. Photo credit: Candice Self-Perry.

On January 29, 2005, Craig recorded his Hair of the Dog performance and self-released a 50 minute album called, “Craig Smith’s Pre-Apocalypse Comedy.” Chad Riden introduced him that night saying, “I’m always excited to see this guy do time. He’s incredible. He’s one of my favorite comics. Honestly, he’s one of the most prolific and introspective and perceptive.. and funny.. just raw, funny guys I know.” Craig’s topics ranged from crack whores to Friedrich Nietzsche, touching on his marriage, his father’s death, racism, politics and a lot of silly stuff. Here’s a few excerpts:

“You know how people have those angels and devils sitting on their shoulders? My devil is a really, really fucking bad one. He got my angel strung out on hard drugs and he doesn’t come into work any more. So now, it’s just me and my devil hanging out, shooting dice, writin’ comedy.”

“I had a brainstorm the other day. Large areas of my brain were devastated. Hundreds of thoughts were left homeless. Motor skills were severely disrupted.”

“I was walking home the other night and it was so cold my right testicle actually had to slaughter a Tauntaun and take shelter in it until a search party could arrive. If you get that joke, by the way, you might be a little bit of a geek. For those of you who don’t know the Star Wars reference, a Tauntaun is like a space yak.”

“‘Accelerate your life, join the Navy.’ You think by ‘accelerate’ they mean ‘fast forward to the fucking end?’ ‘If anybody wrote a book about your life would anyone want to read it?’ Maybe not so much like Mr. Navy Seal over there but I’ll bet mine’s going to have a few more fucking chapters and some pages you might want to jack off to.”

Although Craig had booked shows at Springwater as early as June 2003 using the show name “Standup Commanche,” the first “Dive Laughing” comedy show was on Thursday, September 15, 2005 and featured Craig with Justin T (“Spice J”), Robert Reeves, Chad Riden, Joel T Wilson, and Jesse Perry. Craig ran several more booked “Dive Laughing” shows through the first half of 2006, which led up to him performing on Doug Stanhope’s “See Me Before I’m Dead Tour” show there May 4th, 2006 with Brett Erickson. Craig booked and hosted random other dates until Wednesday, July 7, 2010 when “Dive Laughing” was re-launched as an open mic recurring the first Wednesday of every month.

Craig once had a lineup for a Friday show he had booked at Springwater fall through at the last minute and he wanted to do something special to fill the date. He arranged for Nashville’s Utopian Suicide Suspension Crew to suspend him from hooks inserted into his back for 33-minutes as he performed a standup comedy set while hanging from chains. Craig sent the full video out to comedy club bookers. This short promo video was produced by Joel T Wilson:

For years now, we’ve been promoting the Springwater shows by saying, “There’s always an element of danger with comedy shows at Springwater. Several things can be rough: the crowds, the language, and finding a seat in the packed house. You never know what’s going to happen, but you can bet it’ll be funny and exciting.” The reality was you kinda knew what was going to happen: it was going to be smoky, comics would sign up and do their best (or their worst), Dave Cloud would get up and do his thing (possibly exposing himself), and Craig Smith would be there drinking and smoking and telling jokes.

Craig appeared as himself in Todd Snider’s 2013 film “East Nashville Tonight,” telling jokes and credited on screen only as “Comedian t.b.a.” In April 2015, Craig performed at The East Room as part of the Guinness World Record breaking #BrokenRecordShow. Over the last four or five years or so your best chance of seeing Craig onstage or off was by dropping in at Springwater. Regardless, his presence has continued to loom large throughout the Nashville comedy scene.

Craig Smith's last performance - Springwater, November 4, 2015
Craig Smith’s last performance – Springwater, November 4, 2015

Craig often worked as an Arborist, tending to trees. In 2012, Chad Riden was being sued by his Homeowner’s Association because his awful neighbor wanted him to cut down a beautiful Cedar tree in his back yard. Craig and his son came to Riden’s house – on Father’s Day even – to help his friend and fellow comic by climbing up the tree to prune it and make sure it was in good health. Later, Craig’s testimony in court was the nail in the coffin that won the case for Riden. Chad and Craig always joked that it was the only time either ever walked out of a courtroom victorious.

Nashville StandUp will be soon re-releasing Craig’s 2005 album, “Craig Smith’s Pre-Apocalypse Comedy” with the proceeds going to Craig’s 16-year-old son, Tyler Chance. Christine Hall, Craig’s ex-wife and the mother of his son, says that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered as they did with his father about 15 years ago.

Rest in peace, Craig. See you in the future.

11/8 UPDATE: Official service for Craig Smith will be held Tuesday November 10th from 4pm to 6pm at the pavillion in Centennial Park by Springwater followed by an unofficial celebration of his life from 6pm-8pm at Springwater (115 27th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37203).

12/4 UPDATE: “Craig Smith’s Pre-Apocalypse Comedy” is now available to download from iTunes and Amazon but if you buy it right here from Nashville StandUp, a larger percentage of the money will go to Craig’s son, TC. THANK YOU for all of the support! It’s been a very difficult month.

Dive Laughing @ Springwater – 1st & 3rd Wed of Every Month

Dive Laughing open mic at Springwater - 1st & 3rd Wed every month

Dive Laughing open mic at Springwater - 1st & 3rd Wed every month

Open mic stand-up comedy show hosted by Sean Parrott the 1st & 3rd Wednesday of every month. Sign-up at 9p, show starts at 9:30. All are welcome. No cover.

There’s always an element of danger with comedy shows at Springwater. Several things can be rough: the crowds, the language, and finding a seat in the packed house. You never know what’s going to happen, but you can bet it’ll be funny and exciting.

1st & 3rd Wednesday of Every month
9:30pm show; 9pm sign-up
no cover

Springwater Supper Club & Lounge
115 27th Ave N.
Nashville, TN 37203
615-320-0345
SpringwaterSupperClub.com
Twitter.com/SpringwaterNash

(Facebook Event)

ANTI-Valentine’s Day Comedy Show w/ Craig Smith, Marty Linville, Josh Wagner & Chad Riden – Springwater Supper Club 2/13/2015

ANTI-VALENTINES DAY COMEDY SHOW w/ Craig Smith, Marty Linville, Josh Wagner & Chad Riden - Springwater Supper Club 2/13/2015

ANTI-VALENTINES DAY COMEDY SHOW
w/ Craig Smith, Marty Linville, Josh Wagner & Chad Riden

9pm Friday, 2/13/2015

Springwater Supper Club
115 27th Ave N, Nashville, Tennessee 37203

Facebook.com/events/1543299915942657/

See tomorrow’s stars tonight at open mic stand-up comedy shows in Nashville

Shure microphone

Every comedian you’ve ever heard of – Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, Daniel Tosh – ALL of them got their start at an open mic somewhere. They went to some bar or a restaurant with a microphone set up in the corner of the room and put their name on a sign-up sheet. They waited for their turn and got up on stage and for the first time ever, told original jokes that they wrote to a room full of strangers. Some of them got laughs, some jokes fell flat. They learned from the experience, made some changes and went to the next open mic to try again.

Tim Northern onstage at The Fiddle & Steel Guitar Bar April 1, 2013There is no shortcut in comedy. There are no “one hit wonders” or overnight successes. It takes years to get great and all of your jokes have to be consistently funny before people really start paying attention. Even then there’s no rest. Once they’ve heard your jokes and remember them, it’s time to write more to replace the old act.

This process happens just about every night in cities all across the world. Open mic comics work on the jokes they wrote that week. Traveling, full time comics drop in and try out that new thing they thought of. Some random guy sits watching the show with a page of jokes folded up in his pocket, trying to get the nerve to sign up for the first time. Comedy fans fill the seats watching live comedy in it’s rawest, most unfiltered, most unadulterated form.

Imagine being in the room when a young David Letterman went on stage for the first time. Or being a part of the legendary Boston comedy scene when Steven Wright was completely unknown to anybody who wasn’t there, watching him develop for years. The super famous incredible “breakout” comics of 10-15 years from now are trying standup comedy for the first time ever this week and you could be there to see them.

Nashville’s local comedy scene has had regularly scheduled open mic nights for decades. The current crop of new comics are energetic, excited and pro-actively putting new shows together all around town. Sometimes they’re great, sometimes they’re not, but in general they’re a lot of fun. Here’s a list of the current recurring shows where you can show up and go up:


SUNDAYS –

Another F***ing EN mic! - Sundays at The Cobra

Another F***ing East Nashville Mic

when: Every Sunday
sign up: 6 pm
show: 7 pm
hosted by: rotating hosts
set time: 4 min (depends upon the host)
cover charge: none
smoking: outside
food: burritos
drinks: full bar
ages: 21+

This fun and sexy open mic runs every Sunday at the Cobra in East Nashville.
*Weekly winner chosen by the weekly host
*For interest in hosting please contact MK Gannon or Chloe Stillwell

Bring your best stuff or your new stuff or the stuff that nobody has laughed at but you keep trying it anyways because “there’s something there” because it’s Another F***ing East Nashville Mic!

The Cobra Nashville
2511 Gallatin ave., Nashville, Tennessee 37206
https://twitter.com/cobraNashville
https://www.facebook.com/sweepthelegjonny/
629-800-2515


MONDAYS –

Bobby's Idle Hour Comedy Night OPEN MIC

Bobby’s Idle Hour Comedy Night OPEN MIC

when: Every Monday
sign up: 6:30 pm
show: 7 pm
hosted by: various – Chad Riden & friends
set time: 4 min
cover charge: none
smoking: outside
food: Chicken Pot Pies, B-B-Q Sandwiches, Pizza, more
drinks: beer
ages: 18+

Show up and go up stand-up comedy open mic at the ONLY live music venue on Nashville’s legendary Music Row, Bobby’s Idle Hour is America’s quintessential dive bar, serving as the “official” home for several of the music industry’s die-hard veterans: hit songwriters, recording studio guns, and emerging talent.

“…the walls of this joint bleed with 30+ years of beer, cigarette smoke, and the vibrant echoes of thousands hit songs written on these very bar stools by Nashville’s top songwriters. If you want a taste of REAL MUSIC ROW HISTORY stop in Bobby’s Idle Hour and ask for Jonathan the bar keeper..”

Bobby’s Idle Hour Tavern
1028 16th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212
(Historic Music Row @ 16th Avenue South & Tremont)
615-726-0446

BobbysIdleHour.com
Twitter.com/BobbysIdleHour
Facebook.com/OfficialBobbysIdleHour
NashvilleStandUp.com/bobbys/

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Roast The Host w/ Sean Parrott 10pm Mondays at Third Coast Comedy Club

Roast The Host OPEN MIC – Mondays at Third Coast Comedy Club

when: Every Monday
sign up: 9:30 pm
show: 10 pm
hosted by: Sean Parrott
set time: 4 min
cover charge: none
smoking: no
food: hotdogs
drinks: Beer
ages: 18+

At most comedy open mics you see the same thing over and over: a bunch of people trying out new jokes. At our open mic, a bunch of people will try out new jokes OR, if they are feeling especially vicious, they can ROAST THE HOST! Unpredictable Comedy meets Brutal Insults for a night of hurt feelings and FUN! Also, it’s only an hour show so not a ton of people will get to go up. Maybe ten! Hosted by Sean Parrott.

Third Coast Comedy Club
1310 Clinton Street
Suite 121
Nashville, TN 37203
615-745-1009

RoastTheHost’s Facebook Fan Page
thirdcoastcomedy.club
twitter.com/3rdcoastcomedy
facebook.com/thirdcoastcomedyclub


TUESDAYS –

AHHHH!!! Open mic at Tin Dog Tavern every Tuesday
AHHHH!!! Open mic at Tin Dog Tavern

when: Every Tuesday
sign up: 7:30 pm
show: 8 pm
hosted by: Micah Dean
set time: 5 min
cover charge: none
smoking: yes
food: ?
drinks: Beer and liquor
ages: 21+

AHHHH!!! Open mic at Tin Dog Tavern is a new mic with old furniture waiting for you to fall out of. Whether it’s due to some laughs or beer.. we hope you come back.

• Funniest comic of the night gets a $25 bar tab
(WHOA!! Those were some badass jokes!!)

• Worst comic of the night gets a $25 bar tab
(WHOA!! That sucked ass but its ok! Come back & try again!)

• Drink Specials (8-10PM)

RED HEADED HACK (Rob Haynes inspired)
$7 – 16oz PBR/ Double Shot Tequila

PROBATION VIOLATION (Monty Mitchell inspired)
$7 – 12oz PBR/ Shot of Jameson

$4 – Well Shots

Tin Dog Tavern
1401 4th ave S
Nashville, TN 37210
615-403-4734

tindognash.com
twitter.com/Tin_Dog_Tavern
facebook.com/TinDogNash

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ultimate comedy @ the east room every tues

Corporate Juggernaut presents ULTIMATE COMEDY Open Mic at The East Room

when: Every Tuesday
sign up: 8 pm
show: 8:30 pm
hosted by: Brad Edwards
set time: 4 min
cover charge: none
smoking: on the deck outside
food: Pizzas, Pizza Dogs
drinks: beer
ages: 18+

Ultimate Comedy is a loose, fun show where host Brad Edwards is joined on stage by house band “The Grey Grays” featuring Sean Parrot on guitar/vocals and Gary Fletcher on drums/vocals, playing intro music for comics, randomly interacting with the performers and playing them off if they go too long. Each comic gets four minutes.

The East Room
2412 Gallatin Ave., Nashville, TN 37206
615-335-3137

Facebook.com/TheEastRoom
Twitter.com/TheEastRoom
CorporateJuggernaut.com
Twitter.com/CorporateJugger
NashvilleStandUp.com/ultimate-comedy-open-mic/

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Red Eye Comedy open mic - 10:45pm Tuesdays at Wilburn Street Tavern

Red Eye Comedy Open Mic at Wilburn Street Tavern

when: Every Tuesday
sign up: 10 pm
show: 10:45 pm
hosted by: Josh Lewis
set time: 4 min
cover charge: none
smoking: yes
food: burgers, hotdogs, nachos
drinks: $3 beers & cider
ages: 21+

Cash only bar with pool, darts, and open mic comedy every Tuesday night (starting June 23, 2015). Miss Paulette has a few no-bullshit bar rules posted on the wall and is open late afternoon until the early hours. Originally hosted by Joe Kelley, now ran by Josh Lewis (since September, 2016).

Wilburn Street Tavern
302 Wilburn St, Nashville, Tennessee 37207
(615) 977-0511
wilburnstreettavern@gmail.com

Facebook.com/pages/Wilburn-Street-Tavern/497482297013391?fref=nf

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WEDNESDAYS –

Comedy at a Local Brewery @ Smith & Lentz Brewing - every wednesday

Comedy at a Local Brewery @ Smith & Lentz Brewing

when: every Wed.
sign up: 7 pm
show: 7:30 pm
hosted by: Josh Wagner
set time: 4 min
cover charge: none
smoking: no
food: some, and feel free to bring in whatever you want
drinks: beer
ages: all

Every Wednesday starting June 15th, 2016 – a comedy open mic hosted by Josh Wagner at a local brewery!

Smith & Lentz Brewing
903 Main Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37206

facebook.com/smithandlentzcomedy/
smithandlentz.com
facebook.com/smithandlentzbrewing/
instagram.com/smithandlentzbeer/
twitter.com/SmithandLentz

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KAMIKAZE KITTEN comedy show w/ Chad Riden & friends

KAMiKAZE KiTTEN comedy show w/ Chad Riden and friends at Dino’s Bar

when: 2nd Wed. every month
sign up: 8 pm
show: 8:30 pm
hosted by: Chad Riden
set time: varies from 3-15 minutes
cover charge: none
smoking: yes
food: yes
drinks: beer
ages: 18+

A stand-up comedy showcase featuring various comedians traveling around the country and local favorites. Comics are booked in advance but there are always several shorter “bucket” spots available for anybody in the audience. The show is always loose, weird and pretty hilarious. Bucket spots are five minutes each. Running since January 2013.

Dino’s Bar
411 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
615-226-3566

Twitter.com/dinosbaren
Facebook.com/pages/Dinos-Bar/232420103441283
NashvilleStandUp.com/kamikazekitten/

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Twin Kegs Open Mic - 3rd Wed of every month

Twin Kegs Open Mic

when: 3rd Wed. every month
sign up: 6:30 pm
show: 7 pm
hosted by: Jessica Carter
set time: 5 minutes
cover charge: none
smoking: no
food: yes
drinks: full bar
ages: 21+

Starting June 17th, 2015, Twin Kegs Open Mic is a monthly show hosted by Jessica Carter the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the NEW Twin Kegs II location on Hermitage Ave. Comedy + legendary burgers + beer = Wednesday winning!

Twin Kegs II
327 Hermitage Ave, Nashville, TN 37210
615-301-8675

twitter.com/twinkegs
facebook.com/Twin.Kegs
twinkegs.wix.com/twinkegs

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THURSDAYS –

open mic comedy night at 404 Bar & Grill every Thursday

Open Mic at 404 Bar & Grill

when: Every Thursday
sign up: 7:30 pm
show: 8 pm
hosted by: Brad Hinderliter and Renard Hirsch
set time: 5-ish min
cover charge: none
smoking: yes (the show is out on the patio)
food: full menu
drinks: full bar
ages: all

Renard Hirsch and Brad Hinderliter co-host this open mic out on the deck at 404 Bar & Grill every Thursday. Get there early for happy hour from 4p-7p with 2 for 1 drinks. If the lineup isn’t crowded you might get more than 5 minutes. This show has been running since June 25, 2015. Originally on Wednesdays, it switched to Thursdays October, 2016.

404 Bar & Grill
404 Elysian Fields Road
Nashville, TN 37211
615-331-8944
www.404barandgrill.net/
facebook.com/404BARandGRILL

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Comedy On Tap OPEN MIC - 2nd & 4th Thursdays at Belcourt Taps.

Comedy On Tap

when: 2nd & 4th Thursdays, beginning January 14, 2016
sign up: 6:30 pm
show: 7-9 pm
hosted by: Bo Shuster and Maria Tucker
set time: 4-5 min
cover charge: none
smoking: designated area
food: local sourced burgers, fries, baby back ribs, brisket, pulled pork, salads, tacos
drinks: full bar
ages: 18+

COMEDY ON TAP is a show-up-and-go-up comedy open mic, held every second and fourth Thursday. This is a “clean” show with PG-rated material only.

Belcourt Taps offers a full bar, an array of brews, five signature stuffed burgers (or build your own), fresh cut fries served seven different ways, baby back ribs, brisket, pulled pork, salads, tacos, and other goodies. All beef, veggies and jokes are locally sourced and made with love.

Belcourt Taps
2117 Belcourt Avenue
Nashville, TN 37212
615-915-3622
www.belcourttaps.com

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FRIDAYS –

(no Friday mics at this time)


Go check out some of these shows. Pick out your favorite up and coming local comics. Tell them what you thought about their sets. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter and share their videos with your friends. Buy them a beer! Every famous comedian you’ve seen on tv started off the exact same way and they probably remember the first time they had a fan. Support your local comedy scene and you’re supporting tomorrow’s comedy superstars when they need your support the most.