Mike Brocki: After scoring first place in last year's Charleston Comedy Festival Stand-Up Competition, Mike Brocki is back to dole out more jokes. Originally from Chicago, Brocki has become a key player in the local comedy scene. He began writing jokes as early as age 14 and occasionally performed at open mic nights, but never seriously pursued comedy until moving to Charleston. Before relocating, Brocki was in the Air Force stationed in Dover, DE — a place that, according to him, lacked a real comedy scene — so he continued to write jokes in his spare time.
Like many of the local comedians in Charleston, Brocki found his way to Theatre 99 to give improv classes a try, but he claims that improv is not for him — sketch and stand-up are his forte. He describes his comedic style as "smart and silly." A tactic of his? "I write very concise jokes that waste few words and get to the funny quickly," he says. In order to pursue comedy full-time, Brocki often travels to bigger cities for larger venue gigs, and we have to wonder how Charleston's scene stands up to the competition. "Charleston's comedy scene is tiny compared to other cities," says Brocki, "We only have a handful of dedicated comics, but I think what we lack in quantity, we make up for in quality."
Brocki will perform a 10-minute set at Theatre 99 during the festival along with Hagan Chase Ragland, followed by the Ruckus Room Stand-Up Show. Although many are excited to see Brocki's humor in action, he says he's just coming for the perks: "I get a shiny badge that says performer." But it's not all about the glam, "I'm also looking forward to the Most Races Show On Earth at the Commodore. Neil Bansil always puts together the best comedy shows in town. After my set, I'm sneaking away and watching it." —Samantha Connors
Hagan Chase Ragland: Hagan Chase Ragland has been performing stand-up comedy in Charleston for four years. We know this because we found a Vimeo video of one of his first shows at Big Gun's open mic, dated 2012. And while Ragland assures us that he's come a long way since then, we thought he seemed pretty funny back in the day, too.
"I grew up in Kentucky until I was eight, when I moved to Charleston. Part of my material comes from growing up there. I also have a full-blooded Japanese grandmother, which I talk about too," says Ragland, who describes his comedy as self-deprecating humor with a party vibe. Hear, hear.
In addition to his comedy gigs, Ragland is a driver and manager for D'Allesandro's Pizza, where he credits owners Nick and Ben D'Allesandro with being flexible and understanding when it comes to performers' schedules. Despite his affinity for his current job, Ragland says that he does want to leave pizza life eventually. "Hopefully by the time I turn 30," he says. Ragland's immediate goal is to get out to more regional comedy scenes, like Greenville and Savannah. "I think it improves you to be able to go out and see other shows," he says, adding that he has his sights set on visiting New York and L.A. as well.
And while Hagland doesn't think that he necessarily performs better in other cities — he tells us that he "didn't do that great" on a recent trip to Asheville — he appreciates tapping into comedy communities around the area. "It's nice getting to know other comedians who know the struggle."
Hagland and his roommate Jon Antoine talk about "the struggle," among other things, on the Petty Couch Podcast, a podcast that is kind of just what it sounds like. The idea for the podcast came about when Hagland and Antoine were sitting on their couch, talking shit after a long day. One of their friends came over and deemed the sittin' spot the "petty couch," and the name stuck. The guys produce hour-long podcasts where they bring local comedians and other artists on to promote whatever event they've got coming up, and also, to talk some shit.
"We'll do the shitty song of the week, where we pick a song and rip it apart," says Ragland. "I did not expect the response, which is like in the tens of people," he laughs. "But I consider it a success."