Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« The End of Ron Paul | When the Bird Flu Comes »

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I Went and Saw Improv and Standup in the University District on Saturday Night, and It Was Actually Funny

posted by on January 8 at 11:52 AM

It is hard to get anyone to go with you to see standup and improv in the University District at midnight-thirty on a weekend night; no, not hard, it’s impossible. A friend who’s usually game for theater stuff declined in favor of going to see Blazing Saddles at midnight at the Egyptian; another friend, one who’s had a career in improv, so you think he’d be at least inclined, declined too, in favor of going to see Blazing Saddles with the first guy. A couple other friends said no too. I took the bus, which got from Capitol Hill to the University District so rapidly I had almost an hour to kill, and I spent it getting as drunk as possible.

Which isn’t really necessary, it turns out, because there’s a bar in the Historic University Theater, and not just in the lobby or something, but in among the seats, so you can drink and drink without missing a thing (although you couldn’t get a vodka soda on Saturday night, because the bar was out of club soda, as well as vodka). Dartanion London is the MC of Dart-Mondo (Saturdays through March 15; $8) and its curator of sorts. He introduces a standup comedian, the standup comedian comes to the stage and does a couple minutes, and then four actually funny improv actors come out and do actually funny improv based on the subjects that the standup was just discussing. Then someone else comes out and does some standup, followed again by improv. It is different every night, but the standup comedians on Saturday were Ted Tremper from Chicago and Bengt Washburn from California. Some of the subjects raised: John Wilkes Booth, Jamie Foxx, and the retarded. Tremper said he thinks Hillary Clinton is going to be out of the race soon, and added, “The only thing sad about that is I really want to see her pick up a baby and devour it.” Washburn was even funnier. He opened with the guy-eaten-by-a-tiger story. “I thought that was neat,” he said. “For the tiger. Looking all those years. Wondering.” I’d recount more of it for you, but I took bad notes because I was laughing. The standout among the improv crew was Amanda Williams—incidentally, the only woman onstage.

RSS icon Comments


Does EVERY article written about stand-up comedy by ANYONE in ANY publication in Seattle have to start with the premise that the expectation is that it's going to be shitty...and then the surprise when it isn't?

Dartanion London is an incredible performer who has been highly active in the local improv scene, he's done sketch work, he's done film work (including having been a Seattle Neutrino member) and video work (type "Stamos" into your YouTube search bar) and he's been an engaging presence in the stand-up scene for a few years now...

He's also one of the people behind the Week of Fun comedy festival (the second year of which should be happening soon).

The guy is an undiscovered gem in town and deserves to be profiled AS AN ARTIST PURSUING HIS ART IN UNIQUE AND OFTEN SUCCESSFUL WAYS.

And isn't it really time to get past the "Hey, I thought I'd need to get drunk to enjoy this show, but it actually turned out to be pretty good" attitude?

Seriously--it's great that you enjoyed the show, Christopher...but there are plenty of people in this world who don't automatically think of stand-up comedy like it's nasty tasting medicine...

Posted by pgreyy | January 8, 2008 12:38 PM

It would be nice if the people who go to the Wing-It productions would spend time/money in the neighborhood that it's located in. The clientele there is odd. A bunch of eager people (often families/teens for the earlier shows) will show up for a show and then disappear when it ends. You never see them again. Business owners in the area rarely see them. I think their audience is usually from Bothell or the eastside or a few UW dorms. It's bizarre and should be analyzed.

Posted by wongit | January 8, 2008 12:48 PM

Hey Peter. I definitely understand your frustration, but speaking as a non-comic who sometimes tries to get other non-comics to comedy shows, it can be a lot like trying to convince someone to go to the dentist for a root canal.

Combine that with the fact that Dart-Mondo combines stand-up comedy with IMPROV and it can be more like trying to convince someone to go in for a root canal without anesthetic.

This is definitely too bad because Dart-mondo IS a hell of a good time. The comics are always the best in the city and the improvisers are brilliant. So I agree with Cristopher's assessment that it can be a hard sell and most of the first-timers who I am able to convince to go to a show usually exhibit the same, "Wow. That was actually fun!" attitude that he expressed.

To someone who has been seeing these shows for awhile (especially as a comic), it is probably painful to watch the discovery process, but it doesn't change the fact that it is still reality. Sure there are plenty of people in the world who don't view comedy as nasty tasting medicine, but you already have those people showing up. I think Christopher is just trying to clue in some of the folks who aren't hip to it yet.

Posted by Clint | January 8, 2008 1:31 PM

Point taken, Clint.

And I'd much rather have Christopher report on this show than not.

It just gets so tiring.

It's like if every restaurant review started with "HEY! It doesn't taste like shit!"

Come to think of it, that would probably be rather effective...

Posted by pgreyy | January 8, 2008 1:44 PM

In my experience, most improv IS shitty and it's a pleasant surprise when it's actually funny. That doesn't keep me from attending, since the appeal doesn't lie so much in the hilarity of the planned jokes but in the weird psychology that it takes to pull off an improv show. Same with stand-up.

Posted by Katelyn | January 8, 2008 2:50 PM

the truth is, most places you go standup can be pretty crappy. but standup here in seattle is actually pretty fuckin good, a fact of which the stranger seems to be dimly aware (as well as the wider entertainment industry--MTV had a talent scout here for a few days last month)

even open mics here are better than actual showcase shows in many other cities including LA.

Posted by bing | January 8, 2008 3:21 PM

Nah... I wouldn't say that The Stranger doesn't give a rats ass about comedy I mean they sponsor the Laffhole and that's something. That place is packed every time. It's great!

However there are a lot of clubs around the Seattle area that comics go to that people often forget:

The Comedy Underground
Mr. Spot's Chai House
Cafe Amore

It's starting to really take off. I have a couple of friends who are comics and I'm noticing that they are spending more time doing comedy than their 9-5 jobs.

But I do agree with pgreyy that it doesn't come off to journalistic, but rather incredibly biased to pass that much judgment over a show that you haven't seen before you even are seated. It makes me a little skeptical of the next article or blog posting that I read by this guy, but I'm still glad that he wrote it.

I want to check it out now.


Posted by chrisrailey | January 8, 2008 4:35 PM

Don't forget that the Sunset and the Mars Bar both have great comedy at least once a month.
I love the Dartmondo. It is fun to watch and to perform in. Telling jokes and then seeing them disected through improv can be gratifying and humbling at the same time.
Dartanion has been producing this show all over Seattle for the past year and this run at the HUT should be the best one yet. I think the improvisers have really come together as a team and the quality of comics that have agreed to perform is really high. The Datmondo is great example of the quality of Seattle comedy, both improv and stand-up.
I am such a fan of the show, that I will be there every week by the bar with a flash light in hand, drinking whiskey and making sure the comedians behave themselves. Make sure come by and say hi.

Emmett Montgomery
People's Republic of Komedy

Posted by Emmett Montgomery | January 9, 2008 12:22 PM

Well, I saw Dart-Mondo for the first time on Saturday as well.
And even though I may be a BIT biased only because I work at the HUT, I was VERY impressed in the show.
People tried to explain it to me, and it was SO hard to understand what they were talking about.
I didn't want to see it, but stayed anyways.
I laughed my ass off! it's DEFINITELY something to check it out!

and ignore the obnoxious girl like laughing really hard in the front row. that would be me :D.

Posted by Alex | January 9, 2008 4:17 PM

In response to: wongit | January 8, 2008 12:48 PM

As the Artistic Director of Wing-it, i have to whole heartedly disagree! We have created more traffic and exposure for area businesses, and we are working with local bars and restaurants to create packages to drive more business their way. Our demographics show the majority of our crowd from the surrounding housing areas, the University of Washington and Capital Hill. I don't know where you get your facts, but we have questionnaires we do every year to support my facts. We have seen positive economic upturns since we took over this building, and we have purchased it to show our commitment to the community to stay around and keep providing community benefit.
This is above and beyond our work providing free classes to homeless youth, and other charity work in the University District.
If you want more info on all our programs - call the office: 206 352-8291. I'll be glad to show you all the programs we are currently involved with.

Posted by Amcmasters | January 11, 2008 3:46 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).