Laughing Stock: Fringy, sketchy and forward-looking

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Are the Cosmonauts fighting over who will ride shotgun on the drive from Phoenix to the Tucson Fringe Festival? - THE COSMONAUTS ON FACEBOOK
  • The Cosmonauts on Facebook
  • Are the Cosmonauts fighting over who will ride shotgun on the drive from Phoenix to the Tucson Fringe Festival?
Funny at the Fringe

By definition, Fringe Fest performers don’t fit any category, but many of them are comedy acts, and this year’s Tucson Fringe Festival, January 9 through 11, features more than most.

“There's so much comedy!!!” fest honcho Maryann Green texted us. "’<=2’, (less than or equal to two) is sketch comedy from the directors of the Elgin Fringe Festival. 'How To Contract Lycanthropy' is dry humor from award-winning Minneapolis Fringe Festival artist Matthew Kessen. 'Sexology the Musical' promises to be a rockin’ good time.” And Green is just getting started.



Tucson Fringe Fest is popular for a wide range of great, little-known talent. Green and her team see, screen and invite plenty of fringe acts they know will find a Tucson audience. But their strategy of short shows and low prices all but guarantees a good time. If you don’t love the show you’re seeing, there’s another within the hour that could blow you away.

Admission to the fest is $3 for a button. Shows are $10 each, but passes are available for two, five or eight shows each for $18 to $64. Tickets and details of all the shows are at shop.tucsonfringe.org.



Twenty-two shows will be performed more than 50 times in five venues that are less than a mile apart downtown. They include The Screening Room, Steinfeld Warehouse, StudioONE, the Cabaret Theatre at the Temple of Music and Art and The Circus Academy.

Much excitement around this year’s fest is about the 16 acts appearing for the first time, including Phoenix sketch comedy team The Cosmonauts. The eight-year-old ensemble has performed in multiple festivals. They suggest that the audience think of them “like Saturday Night Live, but R-rated”

Green continues, “Space Force is a political farce.” And then she touches on the one we want to see most: “‘Silly Woman’ is about two young comedians discovering the comedy genius of funny females of the past, like Phyllis Diller and Lucille Ball. ‘Tammy's Bachelorette’ is an interactive comedy romp through a ‘Whiskey Tango’ wedding.” We think she means “white trash,” but she wouldn’t ever punch down.

“(Longtime local favorite) Tom Potter is doing a set he calls ‘The History of American Musical Humor’," she says, comparing him, a little hesitantly, to Dr. Demento. We get that one! He’ll have funny lyrics to songs we recognize.

"’What Will You’, Green says,"is a modern queer take on Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night, and, finally, ‘You've Got To Be Kidding Me’ is a live comedy podcast about carrying the emotional baggage of childhood."

If you’re reading this on Thursday, you can head over to Café Passé for a preview party from 6 to 9 p.m. Fest acts perform two-minute samples of their sets, and audience members win raffles and prizes.

Martin Luther King Day weekend

There is so much comedy headed your way, you should just block out the next two weekends. Upcoming we have an impossible choice among three top comedians plus the usual great improv shows. And from Jan. 25 through Feb. 1, every night has at least one and up to eight shows for the Tucson Comedy Crawl. It’s more than two-dozen shows, produced by and with members of Tucson’s burgeoning comedy scene, and it’s all sponsored by Tucson Weekly and Tucson Local Media.

Here’s a head start on next weekend, though, with comedy booked especially for Martin Luther King Weekend.

Matt Kearney’s LOL Jam returns to The Viscount Suites at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18. Tickets are $15, or $20 for VIP seating, via grownsexy.ticketleap.com. Rob Rodriguez hosts, reminding us once again that we don't see him often enough in Tucson. The Lineup includes BET Allstar Drew Frazer, Kool Bubba Ice and local newcomer Janize.

Laffs Comedy Caffé hosts Jon Roy for five shows the same weekend. Clever and clean, with a megawatt resume, Roy riffs like a funny best friend on cultural anomalies, dilemmas of childhood, racial tolerance and the chaos that is contemporary media. His jokes can land with impressions or inspire a song. Jimmy Calloway features. Details and tickets are at laffstucson.com/coming-soon.html.

More Comedy

Friday, Jan. 10: Standup with Tyler Boeh featuring Jeff Horste at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv Happy Hour at 7:30 p.m. ($5) and The Soapbox at 9 p.m. ($7) at TIM Comedy Theatre (TIM)($10 for both shows. All shows $2 off with Cat Card). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. and Freeform Friday at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).

Saturday, Jan. 11: Standup with Phoenix prop comedian, Dan Hanson, featuring local favorite Josiah Osego opening and Nick Chant as host at 8 p.m., The O ($7 door; $10 Eventbrite. Tyler Boeh featuring Jeff Horste at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Kids improv, F.O.M.P. (Friends of Make Pretends) at 2 p.m. at TIM Comedy Theatre ($5) Improv at 7:30 and 9 p.m. at TIM ($7, both shows for $10, $2 off with Cat Card). Improv with Unscrewed Family Hour at 6 p.m., Family Friendly NBOJU at 7:30 p.m., and NBOJU: Uncensored at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Jan. 14, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy, The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., The Screening Room and 8:30 p.m., The Mint.
Thursday, Jan 16. 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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