Posted May 25, 2016 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment

Olympia’s Thriving Local Comedy Scene

By Sarah Bradley

Olympia has a lot to offer for aspiring comedians. There are multiple open mics that consistently draw a crown and provide a platform for new and seasoned performers alike. I talked with people with who bring passion, talent, and enthusiasm, making the Olympia comedy scene what it is.

The Olympia comedy scene is comprised of a network of performers who aren’t interested in recycling tired, cliche material, they are trying new things and providing platforms for performers who are underrepresented in mainstream comedy. There is a lot of funny stuff happening in this town rooted in collaboration and experimentation. Every week, there are open mics at downtown venues such as Le Voyeur, Ben Moore’s, and Pig Bar. Here on campus, Generation Friends puts on improv, sketch, and standup comedy throughout the year and has regular meetings that offer support and community for people interested in comedy. The Bad-Bish-Witch collective is a performance troupe that showcased at Dumpster Values earlier this year.

In addition to comedy that happens on stage, Olympia also has a wealth of comedy acts that appear on local public access channel TCTV, such as long running variety show Your Daily Hour With Me and a new sitcom called Bing Bong TV. If you haven’t been checking out all the comedy events happening around town, I suggest checking out an open mic. You’ll be supporting the community, and it’s a great way to plug into other events that are coming up.

The epicenter of Olympia comedy happens every Wednesday at Le Voyeur. Vomity is a an open mic that showcases around 20 local comedians plus featured performers every week. Vomity was started in October of 2014 by Sam Miller and John Manini, who were looking to launch an open mic that would provide a platform for anyone who wanted to perform. The open mic is highly regarded within the comedy community of the Northwest and has attracted performers from major cities in the US and abroad, while still being a platform for local talent to regularly perform and work on their act. The ‘low-stakes’ feel of an open mic creates a great mix of folks who are just getting started alongside more seasoned comedians.

Vomity has grown exponentially since its launch. Miller told me, “when we first started only like ten people signed up, but last week 38 people signed up last week and we’ve got 20 spots.” Anyone who gets ‘bumped’ from the sign up is encouraged to sign up next week. The Olympia comedy open-mic circuit, and the people responsible for organizing it, are not into competitiveness in the field. “There’s not a lot of beef [in the Olympia comedy community],” Miller says. Summer Azim expressed similar sentiment, “no one is being stingy over stage time here.”

Azim, who is originally from Chicago, remarked on the Olympia comedy scene, saying “I feel like it rivals bigger cities…even though it is smaller, there is a lot of condensed talent here.” Azim started doing standup at Vomity in fall of 2015, since then she has hosted Vomity, is a part of the Bad-Bish Witches comedy collective, and can be found performing at open mics regularly.  Azim and I talked about how Olympia’s brand of comedy is often labeled as alternative comedy. When I asked what that meant to her, Azime said “even if I was doing ‘typical comedy’ I would still be considered an alternative comedian because of how I look… I think that what gets called ‘alternative comedy’ is anything other than the ‘status quo’ of comedy… other than, you know, the typical white male in his twenties making unoriginal, racist, sexist jokes”

Comedy is a special art form in its ability to explicitly talk about subjects that often make people uncomfortable, which gives opportunity to create conversation and highlight different perspective. Sam Miller expressed, “you don’t often end up doing comedy because you have an awesome life.” While speaking about Vomity as a space for people to try out new things, Miller said, “with stand up it’s like ‘oh you’re a weirdo and you want attention? well, here, you found your place.’”

In addition to Vomity, you can check out “C U Next Tuesday”, an open mic held every other Tuesday at Ben Moore’s. This comedy showcase reserves half of the available spots for women and trans performers. Taylor Sikorski, we began this open-mic, was interviewed by the Cooper Point Journal in February 2016 about the launch of the women’s comedy open mic at Ben Moore’s. Sikorski has been doing standup in Olympia for a while, but is now moving out of Washington. The hosting duties of C U Next Tuesday are being passed off to another local comedian, Chocolate the Entertainer.

Chocolate has performed at Vomity many times since it began. She is a member of the Bad Bish Witches and can be seen performing comedy around town at different open mics. When I asked Choclate about her approach to stand up, she said “I like that I can just talk and see where a joke is going to go.” Now that she is taking over emcee duties for C U Next Tuesday you will have many opportunities to catch her sharp and poignant comedy.

There are so many great folks who make up the comedy scene. As Miller expressed when discussing Vomity, it is really the cast of regulars that makes Olympia comedy what it is. There are so many people bringing dedication and passion while working with one another for the sake of comedy. Open mics are an important space for performers and audience to engage with one another. Vomity isn’t going to go on forever, and that’s okay! Before Vomity there was “For The Love of Comedy” at the now closed Cafe Love, and other open-mics around downtown. Check out Le Voyeur on a Wednesday while the show is still going strong and make sure to support “C U Next Tuesday.” Who knows, maybe you will feel inspired to try out your own material… and if you do, there is a great community of weirdos ready to lovingly laugh with you.