Author: Pat LaVone

In 1989, the soon-to-be-hit-comedy TV show, “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the brainchild of Minnesota comedian Joel Hodgson and television producer Jim Mallon, and further developed by fellow comedians Trace Beaulieu and head writer Mike Nelson, had just taken a big step forward. In addition to being the signature program for a new cable TV enterprise, The Comedy Channel (later to be known as Comedy Central), the show moved into a new location in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Along with the writers already on board, a young talent named Mary Jo Pehl was hired to meet the show’s new and growing creative…

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Back in the 1980s, we called them “open stages.” These days they are referred to as “open mics,” as in “open microphones.” Or, for comedy insiders, they are sometimes just referred to as “mics.” It’s where the vast majority of stand-up comedians first cut their teeth and develop their acts. As the name implies, it’s usually just a microphone on a mic stand on a stage where anybody can get up and try out three to five minutes of material – stories, jokes, one-liners – to see if anybody else thinks they’re funny. Jon Stannard hosts the Open Mic at…

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Most people who are stand-up comedians, comedy writers or comedic actors have their own “aha” moment where they realize that comedy is a career you can pursue. Before that, though, they often fall in love with a stand-up comedian, actor, group or show that is so funny it makes an indelible impression on them that forms the foundation of their love for humor or comedic performance. My first three In this article, I am going to ask comics from different generations who the performer, group or show is that made that first impression on them. I’ve got dozens of favorites…

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If you are a genuine devotee of comedy or even just a passing fan, you have probably heard the term “comedy festival.” But you might be wondering, what does that mean – exactly? Typically, a comedy festival brings together a wide variety of comedy acts, including improvisational and sketch groups, storytellers, musical acts, and – primarily – stand-up comedians, over multiple days, in several venues, in a specific geographic location. It might sound fun and straightforward; however, it is anything but simple. Even the smallest comedy festival has many moving parts and requires a ton of work and coordination (often…

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When Tommy Ryman, one of Minnesota’s most iconic stand-up comedians and a semifinalist on Season 8 of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” takes the stage at Fat Pants Brewing in Eden Prairie on Aug. 25, he won’t be wearing “fat pants,” but his trousers might be a little less skinny. “I have a 30-inch waist,” confesses the comedian. “But it was 28-inches before the pandemic.” Tommy Ryman Ryman, whose credits include two Dry Bar Comedy specials (the second special will be released this fall), has been busy performing this summer. The Fat Pants gig won’t be Ryman’s first brewery show, and…

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