Hi there, Minnesota Microphone Readers! It’s your friendly old pal Wonder Dave, back on MN Mic with another guest blog. I’ve had the fortune of performing multiple times at the Monday Night Comedy Show held weekly at The Beat Coffee Shop just off 28th and Hennepin in Uptown Minneapolis.
The Monday Night Comedy Show features a variety of Comedy Acts from improv to sketch comedy to stand up and most recently, you guessed it, spoken word. Over the past year, The Monday Night Comedy Show (here after MNCS) has featured local spoken word artists including a large number of local slam poets & storytellers. The show has also been host to Doomtree’s Dessa Darling and traveling spoken word performers such as Karen Wurl, Ami Matison & HBO Def Poetry Jam performer Big Poppa E.
After two very successful years, MNCS will be closing up shop on June 15th as its curator moves onto bigger and brighter things that are sadly not in Minneapolis. The good news is, however, you’ve still got a few more chances to check out the show!
MN Microphone sat down with the show’s intrepid producer & host Andy Brynildson to chat about how the show came to be and his thoughts on spoken word & comedy.
Wonder Dave: First off, What led you to decide to create a cabaret style comedy show?
Andy Brynildson: I started The MNCS with the hope of creating an improv show where the performers who didn’t want to pay to perform would have a space to show off their talents. I used to work at the BNW. As Tech Director. I thought that creating a stage outside of 2605 Hennepin would be a good thing. Perhaps expose more people to something I had a passion for. I knew it wouldn’t be a money-making venture so I would not be anchored to the rules and traditions that are generally held with improv shows. We began with a $2 cover to see four improv acts in a given show.
WD: Tell us about your background and influences. Why did you decide to go into comedy?
AB: Like I said before, I worked at The BNW. My influence came from there. I took the classes they offered, and knew so many performers that were frustrated with all the same acts performing so often. I started out doing ‘regular theatre’, the stuff that everyone expects: Shakespeare, Mamet, Ives, plays that have a strong history of being performed. The thing that made me fall in love with improv was the way it would change every night. The non-scripted aspect of the form.
I had seen ‘Whose line is it anyway?’ on TV, and was amused by it, but I knew that it was heavily edited for broadcast. The stuff that they did at the Workshop was different. Always new every time. I became enamored with the idea of making people forget about their problems for a while. It sounds cliche, but that is what made me like comedy so much.
WD: Do you have any personal philosophies on comedy as a medium?
AB: Again, the ability to make people forget the everyday problems that burdens them during the day. Dudley Riggs, Founder of the BNW, once said (and I am paraphrasing) “We make them laugh during the show, and argue on the way home”
I love that. It usually is associated with satire, which is an aspect of comedy I really like, but I think it holds true with most forms. Be it stand up, improv, sketch, etc.
My main philosophy is do anything that makes them (the audience) laugh. If it makes them think as well, you did it absolutely right. And if they come back for more, you signed a deal with Satan.
WD: When Did you first make Spoken word a regular part of your Comedy Cabaret?
AB: I first saw Wonder Dave performing as ‘Panty Boy’ at Stillettos and Straps Burlesque at The Bedlam Theatre. I went to see it because there was a girl I had a crush on for years performing in it. And truth be told, I wanted her to see me in the audience and live happily ever after. I had never been to a Burlesque revue, so I didn’t know what to expect. I had a rough idea, but what I took from that night stayed with me, and not for the expected reasons. Wonder Dave performed some poems that were so good that I liked his performance as much as the girl I was there to see. And he didn’t even take off his clothes…
WD: (Interviewer’s note: I remember this show I was totally shirtless at the end Clearly Andy has blocked this out of his mind for some reason -WD)
AB: WonderDave came to see a MNCS in late Summer of 2008 and through sheer luck, he agreed to start booking slam poets for the show. It all worked out for the best, as it has added an element of variety that was missing. I am happy to have it, and cannot imagine the MNCS without at least one spoken word artist in a given week.
WD: Had you heard of Slam Poetry prior to having it as part of your show? What do you think of it now?
AB: I had heard of slam, but I thought it was a form of verbal competition. Kind of like Vilification tennis, where the poets would insult each other or something. Looking back, I smile at my naivete.
Now I look forward to it every week. Maybe I will try and compete someday. I have done stranger things.
WD: In your opinion what are the differences between spoken word comedy (story-telling, comedic poetry etc…) and stand up comedy?
AB: Each is challenging in its own right. I have notebooks filled with ideas for stand up sets that will never happen. I will probably end up incorporating them into stories or blogs I write. Something inside me is prohibiting my participation in both forms. Inner demons, I suppose. As for differences, the main one I see is slam and spoken word artists use very personal experience as their inspiration. Very emotionally driven.
Stand up is based in pop culture and requires being able to look at situations everyone can relate with, make fun of it, and quickly move on to the next joke or observation. With slam, you can slow down and make the audience think and feel.
WD: Do you think there are things each genre can learn from the other?
AB: Everyone can learn form everyone else. Dancers can learn from poets and poets can learn from improvisers and improvisers can learn from musicians and musicians can… keep playing music? I have no idea. Your questions are hard.
I think the best compliment for any performer is to inspire a respect from a performer who uses their talents in another genre. Maybe getting that person to want to branch out and try something new. To grow as an entertainer and artist.
WD: What are your 3 favorite moments from The Monday Night Comedy show over the last two years?
AB: Opening night at 7:30pm, Our one year Anniversary Prom Show, and what will be our closing night on June 15th, 2009.
WD: Robo-Cop II the novelization of the the Film is the Monday Night Comedy Show Book Club Book. Tell the People about Robo-Cop. And what are your plans for Robo-cop’s future since the show will be ending before the book does?
I started the Robocop II thing when I needed some time filler, and I have been known to try anything once, twice if I like it.
I thought it would be funny to read aloud a page from the most random book I had on my shelf. The runner up was going to be The Necronomicon or a biography on George Burns. But I didn’t want to summon any demons during the show. That last statement works for both books.
It became an instant hit with how ridiculous it is. It really was a terrible sequel.
As for the end of RoboCop II: Don’t we all have a little bit of Murphy in our hearts? I often refer to myself as Half Man, Half Machine, All Cop.
The future is never written in stone. I cannot plan for something that has a life of it’s own. That, and you will have to see the last show to find out.
WD: Any other Spots you’d recommend for Folks to check out Comedy in the Twin Cities?
AB: Sweet Odin on fire! There are TONS of places! I try my best to plug a lot of the shows that my friends have worked so hard to produce. Here is a list off the top of my head:
Kieran’s Irish Pub for Slam and spoken word. Not a comedy show, but I want people to go there anyway.
Grumpy’s downtown on Washington on Wednesday nights for the Death Comedy Jam.
BLB has all sorts of good shows going on. And some don’t even compete with the MNCS…
Andy Erikson runs a room at the Melrose Apartments on the U of M campus. I think they have free pizza too. You have to check with her for show dates, though.
Gus Lynch produces “Laugh. Rock. Repeat.” at the St. Paul Eagles club about once a month. You can find his group on facebook and myspace.
Bill Young and Eric Nigg do “Pee Your Pants Monthly” at the BLB.
Comedy Sportz has shows on weekends.
Stevie Ray’s also has improv shows on Friday & Saturday nights at the Sheraton in Bloomington.
The Joke Joint in Bloomington in the old Thunderbird hotel has comedy shows and an open mic.
And The Brave New Workshop has Improv-a-go-go and Six Ring Circus and mainstage shows to see.
It’s everywhere in this town. I know I have forgotten a bunch.
WD: So what are your plans after you leave Minnesota?
AB: I want to write a book. And I want to make a comeback.
WD: If folks would like more insight into the man that is Andy Brynildson where can they go?
AB: I run these blogs right now:
www.andybrynildson.blogspot.com (A blog dedicated to the thoughts and musings of Andy)
www.yesandy.blogspot.com (An Advice Blog)
I’m also on facebook and myspace.
I’m very approachable and very long winded.
There are five Monday Night Comedy Show performances left May 18, 22 and June 1, 8, and the show will end on June 15th. MNCS is all ages and costs $3 at the door. Show starts at 8pm show up early to get coffee & a good seat!
Here’s a link to MNCS on Facebook: MNCS Group
(Photographs by Katy McGrath!)