Formerly a “Citizen of Portlandia,” comedian Kristine Levine brings 18 years’ experience as a comic to her new-to-Tucson show, Critical Comedy. Her unique format, an improbably entertaining combination workshop and mentoring session, was a hit in Portland for three years before she moved here last year. She now hosts what she calls an “episode” every Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Mint Cocktails.
The Jan. 25 series opener featured professionals rarely seen in Tucson’s many other open mics, no doubt a show of respect to their colleague but also likely because Levine’s keen comedy ear and spontaneous patter make the show as valuable as it is fun. “Tucson comics are just so kind and helpful and generous,” she says.
A veteran touring comic, most recently with Doug Stanhope, Levine also has guested at the Edinburgh Festival, among others, and appeared on several episodes of the series Portlandia, including the “Journaling Workshop” at the Woman and Woman First bookstore. Much of her comedy revolves around her eccentric mothering (she and her three kids have podcast their exploits) and ribald anecdotes from her years as a clerk in a porn store.
Each “episode” of critical comedy begins with seven to ten comics delivering material they’re working out.
“I ask them to bring in jokes that they're trying to get ready for shows,” she says. These are bits that the punchline isn't landing like you need it to, or you need some tags for it or it’s too long. You need to take some teeth out and make it funny. After you do your bit, I'm going to lead discussion, and we're going to ask questions or we're going to give you comic advice. That is always needed and I find the experience is valuable for everyone.
“Basically (the audience) can come and watch how comics discuss comedy, and how jokes are born, but the big picture, really, is to foster mentorship in comedy,” Levine says. Critical Comedy is free at 8 p.m., Wednesdays, at Mint Cocktails, 3540 E. Grant Road.
PLUS: Comedy Train Wreck!
Good luck on Wednesday, Feb. 8, comedy lovers! Levine’s Critical Comedy is at 8, but Female Storytellers starts at 7:30 p.m. at The Flycatcher, 340 E. 6th St., and Michael Paul Kohn is featured at Brew Ha Ha, an irregularly scheduled monthly comedy show at Borderlands Brewery, 119 E. Toole Ave. But don't count on heading to Mr. Heads afterward. After four years, the venerable pro Pauly Casillas hosted his last 10:30 p.m. open mic there on Feb. 1.