Special Issues » 2010 Charleston Comedy Festival

Comedy Marathon

Variety tops triple-bill show

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From experience, we can tell you that it's a lot more enjoyable to watch a marathon than to run one. Sure, those runners will tell you three days later that it was a terrific experience, but the words they're spouting as they hit the 13th mile is nothing that we can print here.

Fortunately, the comedy marathon at Eye Level Art requires nothing more of you than your God-gifted seat-warmer and a few laughs. The comics will do the rest.

Kanellis & Armstrong present No Swallow

The son of a Charleston native, Russ Armstrong is ready to return to his roots. With comedy partner Nick Kanellis, Armstrong is bringing the No Swallow sketch comedy show to the Comedy Fest.

"It's a bunch of sketches that spread the gamut from Hallmark cards to really hardcore porn," he says of the diverse offerings. "You can bring the kids, but you can also scar them for life."

The pair built the show in New York and have taken it to Chicago and across the border to Toronto.

"Now we're taking it down South," he says. "We're excited to see how it plays down there."

Armstrong's birthday is the day before the first show. "I'm going to spend that coming out of Newark," he says. "Which is great to spend your birthday in a New Jersey airport."

After Charleston, the show will get more traveling and tweaking before a return to New York. "We want to polish it and turn it into a more deadly weapon and kill people with it," he says.

The pair tried out some fresh material for the Toronto crowd and hope to bring a Charleston-specific sketch. Both actors are from the same Chicago scene that birthed the Hunter Family Crest, so the marathon will be a class reunion of sorts.

"It's going to be great," Armstrong says. "The public should expect this triple-bill to be the most deadly combination of hot sauce that they've ever seen in their life."

Hunter Family Crest

The Hunter Family Crest is mostly Chicago-based, with its four performers tracing their roots back to the Windy City's improv scene.

"We all have really different strengths in our improv that contribute to the variety that you see in the show," says Camille Lowman, known in these parts as one-fourth of Mary Kay Has A Posse. "It's not just character based and it's not just relationship based. It's a really good mix of everything."

Lowman offers some experience from her training as a classical actor in New York, while Anthony Overbeck provides a bit of absurdism, Chris Bragg lends a big-picture perspective with his experience as a writer and director, and Joe Phillips ramps up the energy.

For the show, two of the actors will do a monologue about a true story, usually stemming from an audience suggestion, then the monologues flow into a scene where all the actors get to play.

Audiences should be prepared for a refreshing night of improv, says Loman. Oh, and "safe sex is important."

Great, that was going to be our suggestion from the audience.

Matt Donnelly's Celebrity Tarot Lounge

It's pretty easy to find a good laugh in Las Vegas (you're familiar with Britney Spears, right?). So, Matt Donnelly needed a creative way to draw in the crowds. He went with fate — or, to be more specific, the comedic fate that befalls a celebrity guest or audience member who gets their fortune from a comic with a set of Tarot cards.

"In New York, the improv is very scene driven, but in Las Vegas, there isn't as cohesive an improv scene, so it's about putting a good show together," Donnelly says. "A cooler, glitzier show."

Donnelly will be bringing five comedians with him, and they'll act out scenes that play off of the reading. Donnelly hints at a local celebrity sitting at the table.

But, be warned, fate is in the hands of comedians, not psychics.

"It's more fun and light-hearted than it is serious," Donnelly says. Yet, most of the time, audience members consider it to be the truth.

"One man saw a card with a man on a horse and said, 'I'm moving to L.A.'," Donnelly says. "From then on, I've said, please don't let a comedy show tell you what to do with your life."

Guests usually provide more laughs when they don't believe in the cards.

"The less seriously people believe in Tarot, the more fun they have with what the books say will happen," Donnelly says.

In the end, it's just a fun way to get to a cooler interview.

"Instead of the typical questions, 'Who are you? What do you do?,' you make someone talk about a broad assumption made by a card," Donnelly says.

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