One part stand-up, one part improv — the Ruckus Room Stand-Up Show is an outrageous time for both the audience and the performers. It was created when Theatre 99 resident comedians Tim Hoeckel and Jessica Mickey began brainstorming ideas for a consistent stand-up show at the venue. "We were both kind of bored with the standard showcase format," says Mickey. "We wanted to do a show where the comics were having just as much fun as the audience and vice-versa. We knew we wanted to do a showcase with a twist and then figured why does it have to be just one twist?"
Here's how it works: several comedians are asked to prepare a stand-up bit to perform for the audience. When it's their turn, the comics stand on stage and present their act, but midway through the host stops them and chooses a random challenge out of a hat. These challenges can vary — from things like trying to continue their set while wearing headphones with a song on loop to creating an entirely new set on the spot. Tim believes this spin on stand-up enhances the comedic nature of the show, "Comics all react to the challenges in different ways and it actually brings the comic's persona to the forefront." Mickey adds, "Plus, it's kind of selfish: we just like fucking with our friends. The show gives us a formal way to get away with it. It also gets the audience involved. They're not just passively watching a dude drone into the mic."
Audience involvement is pretty much guaranteed at this show. Theatre 99's intimate atmosphere pulls the viewers into the ruckus — and sometimes the challenges even require audience participation. One particular challenge provides audience members with heckles to shout at the performers to which the comic must quickly (and cleverly) respond. Mickey says, "There's a 'go team' vibe to the show, and we include challenges that the audience can be a part of. They get to cheer for the comics and laugh at them messing up without just cringing in their seats. The 'failures' are usually the biggest laughs at our shows, and that's freeing for everyone."