Well, Nashville, it appears that we have become a comedy town.
Maybe that's overstating it a bit, but here are the facts: 1) We're approaching total open mic saturation, with shows at unlikely venues like Benchmark Midtown and 12th & Porter joining Springwater, High Watt, Jazz & Jokes and Spanky's in the regular rotation. And 2) we'll be stocked with great stand-up comedy shows through the end of the year. Hallelujah! It's a Christmas miracle!
For your benefit, I've cherry picked some of the highlights coming up at High Watt, Zanies, TPAC and more. And this is just the tip of the iceberg — there's plenty more to see in the coming months. Assuming we're not all wiped out by the Mayan apocalypse.
If you're into alternative comedy or nerdy stuff, the remaining days of October is a jackpot. You can read all about curmudgeonly comic Kyle Kinane (above) in this week's dead tree edition, but, suffice to say, fans of stories about the horror of seeing someone eating individual pancakes out of a plastic bag on an airplane will find a lot to like about Kinane's misanthropic storytelling comedy at High Watt tonight.
For something a little weirder, Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job regular David Liebe Hart brings his puppets and borderline-upsetting cable access tune-smithing to The End tomorrow, Oct. 23. I've heard that Hart doesn't like being labelled as a “comedy act,” which would explain why local bands Leather Nightmare and Mystery Twins are opening instead of comedians, but he's inexorably connected to the outsider anti-comedy perpetuated by Tim & Eric and that's the crowd he's going to draw.
If you're just now finding out about Rifftrax Live at The Belcourt on Thursday, you're probably out of luck — tickets for the Belcourt show have been sold out since Day One. But you can still get tickets to the Opry Mills and Green Hills simulcasts. If you're really lucky, you might be able to scalp a ticket off someone in line. Be warned, though: Birdemic: Shock & Terror is barely a movie. Enter at your sanity's own risk.
Humorist, author and regular This American Life contributor David Sedaris returns to Ryman Auditorium at the top of the month, likely reading from his 2010 book of short stories Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and his own diaries — much to the chagrin of his family and friends. Ready your NPR tote bags and prepare yourself for hearing about Sedaris's often awkward interactions with humanity.
Guitar comic Stephen Lynch, who is probably best known for a 2000 Comedy Central Presents episode where he sang a song with the title “HermAphrodite,” appears at the James K. Polk Theater on Nov. 10. I have distinct memories of finding his terribly offensive folk songs hilarious when I first heard them as a teenager, but I've lost track of him since. Lynch's next album, Lion, releases three days after his Nashville show. Not to be confused with Sifl & Olly creator, former Nashvillian and fellow novelty musician Liam Lynch.
Pete “DENVER YEAH” Holmes will perform two shows at The High Watt on Nov. 16, lending a bit of podcast credibility to Cannery Row. Probably best known as the host of “You Made It Weird” on the Nerdist network, Holmes takes Brian Regan-style absurdity and ratchets it up to 11 and his total, unflinching goofiness was one of the best moments of the comedy tent at Bonnaroo this year. See him now before his Conan O'Brien produced talk show, The Midnight Show with Pete Holmes, hits the air. Assuming, that is, that TBS brings it to air.
I'm just going to go ahead and hand over all of my hard-earned dollars to Zanies at the beginning of December for one of the best consecutive comedy shows in recent history. Nerdist founder and erstwhile Tennessean Chris Hardwick comes to town for the first time in a while to work out new material. If you're interested in watching how a comedian rebuilds his act after burning a ton of stuff in a comedy special, Hardwick's shows are not to be missed. These are his first touring shows after the special airs, which is pretty cool. Definitely not to be missed — especially for fans of the Nerdist podcast or any of the 9,000 other things Hardwick hosts.
Here's where things get tricky.
A few days later, Brian Posehn appears at Zanies for one show only on December 12. So, metalheads and fart-joke fans, buy your tickets now — this one's going to sell out. I missed Posehn's Bonnaroo set because of responsibilities (in as much as watching Phantogram is a "responsibility"), but I loved seeing him way back when he was touring with Comedians of Comedy and stopped off at Exit/In. Also, his comedy is particularly appealing to dorks in their early 20s to mid-30s, so obviously, that is certainly my bag.
Also my bag? A dude who has guest-hosted Jordan, Jesse Go!, one of the finest comedy podcasts out there, multiple times. The High Watt's final comedy show of the year features W. Kamau Bell, the host of FX's Totally Biased and an outstanding political and social comedian. His solo show, The W. Kamau Bell Curve (tagline: Ending Racism in About An Hour) has been hailed as one of the finest and funniest comedy shows about race in recent memory. Appropriately enough, if you bring a friend of a different race, you get two-for-one tickets. Social engineering at work!
If you're feeling up to it, you may be able to time it so that you catch most of both comics — Posehn's set starts at 7:30 p.m. and Bell's set starts at 8:30 p.m.
Also of Note: Best of Nashville “Best Sex Tape” winner Ralphie May (Zanies, Dec. 21-23); The League's Steve Rannazzisi (Zanies, Dec. 28-31)