As Leland Long was serially abandoning potentially lucrative UA degree programs, he stumbled across his true calling: comedy. Now, he confesses, “I have no money.”
The sacrifice has so far been worth it. His comedy life is well-populated and fun-filled, and the rest of us get to enjoy its output. His latest project, in collaboration with standup comedian Matt Ziemak, is a unique mash up of stand-up and improv: “Set Unlisted.” The show makes its second appearance at Laff’s Comedy Caffe at 8 pm, Sunday, September 24. It’s free, but the club has a two-item minimum.
Set Unlisted, the name, comes from comedians’ common practice of making a “setlist” of their jokes as they warm up for a show. These pre-show setlists can be on bar napkins, in notebooks, on cellphones and often on the palms of a comedian’s hands.
Paper is the setlist medium of choice for Set Unlisted, the show. After each standup set, Long appropriates the setlist, slices it up, and gives its delisted contents to a team of improvisers. The team uses them as prompts for a whole different set of jokes, delivered in improvised scenes. Occasionally, the improvisers find the joke the comedian intended. Since the improv team has been sequestered out of earshot of the standup routine, these congruences can be magical. Only the audience gets them. The joke is on the jokers!
Standup comedians scheduled for Sept. 24 are Rory Monserat, co-host of a weekly open mic at The Loudhouse, Monte Benjamin, the comedian featured in our Aug. 7 column
; Nancy Stanley, who organizes the long-standing Estrogen Hour, and several other benefits around Tucson; and Chris Thayer, recently emigrated to Tucson from Los Angeles and featured in our June 15 column
Long recruited the improvisers from Tucson Improv Movement, where he is a performing member of the company. They are Andrew Hatch of TIM’s premier team The Soapbox, TIM artistic director Daniel Kirby, Esther Brilliant of TIM’s long-running all-female team The Riveters, and geo-scientist Jason Burwell, because improv.
Long says he “fell in love with improv” while watching a friend perform at the UA. He couldn’t make the team, so the friend suggested taking lessons at TIM. The same friend led him into standup comedy. Long says, “Laff’s was the only place I could do standup underage because I could stay in the green room.” That’s where he met Ziemak and they started writing together.