COMEDY

Seriously Funny Business at The Super Serious Show

0 Comments 14 September 2015

The Super Serious Show producers open up about stand-up comedy rules, documenting the live experience, and more!

By Steven Ray Morris

 

The Super Serious Show is one of the definitive stand-up showcases in Los Angeles. A different host each time (and occasionally different venues), CleftClips presents a show that has featured an amazingly diverse line-up since its inception in 2010—from Garfunkel & Oates to Hannibal Buress to Natasha Leggero to James Adomian, to Pete Holmes and everyone in-between. If you love stand-up comedy, you have probably already seen the show on more than one occasion. After celebrating their five-year anniversary earlier this summer and a brief stop at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Super Serious Show returns to The Virgil in Silverlake on September 16. Producers Joel Mandelkorn and Mandee Johnson took a moment to chat with Yay! LA about the impetus behind having a new host each show, the three rules as producers of live stand-up comedy, the care given to preserve the moment when documenting the live experience, and more!

 

Mandee Johnson

Mandee Johnson

 

Joel Mandelkorn

Joel Mandelkorn

How did The Super Serious Show get started?

We started the show in 2010 after a year of running a weekly show at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. We were fans of the local indie comedy scene and the still new UCB theatre shows happening around town. When starting our own show, we tried to run show combining the best of indie shows and doing the opposite of some of the bad habits we saw in the local club environment. When we had difficulty finding a venue that would take us in, we luckily had photography ties to Smashbox Studios, and then went with it, building out the full show setup each month in an empty photo studio.

 

What made you want to have different hosts each time?

Having a new headliner host each show and make it his or her own was a fun way to celebrate the large and diverse comedy scene. Again, we’re not fans of the traditional comedy club mentality of having the host be an afterthought at a show. It’s been very rewarding to encourage performers to embrace this approach to running a show.

 

Garfunkel & Oates at The Super Serious Show.

Garfunkel & Oates at The Super Serious Show.

 

What differentiates an “alternative” comedy show like The Super Serious Show from a typical club environment?

We’re trying to kill the term “alternative”—just seems outdated these days. We feel more a part of “indie” comedy; shows that tend to be D.I.Y. and take place outside of the mainstream venues and clubs, doesn’t necessarily mean the styles are one particular way. There tends to be more experimentation at the indie shows, which is something we wholeheartedly embrace.

 

Emily Maya Mills by Mandee Johnson

Emily Maya Mills by Mandee Johnson

 

The Polaroid-style portraits Mandee takes are such an integral aspect to the vibe of the show. Why are funny people so interesting to look at?

Comedians are performers and artists, guessing those creative and expressive skills are why they can have some fun and take a good photo when given the opportunity.

 

Hannibal Buress by Mandee Johnson

Hannibal Buress by Mandee Johnson

 

Ever Mainard by Mandee Johnson

Ever Mainard by Mandee Johnson

 

As producers of comedy, what are the three most important aspects of putting together a comedy show?

  1. Give a crap about comedy and comedians. It’s very rewarding to work with talented performers and find ways to let them do what they do best for strangers (and friends).
  2. A very unexciting answer but, organization pays off. Keeping track of invites, submissions, promotions and all the moving parts that make up a show helps the actual live show start on time and run smoothly so both the performers and audience members end up happy with how they spend their night.
  3. Kind of an extension of the first two—be decent. Being professional, honest and nice to the venue staff, people who help you run the show, audience members and the comedians really goes a long way in establishing the show as a positive creative place for people to come together and share a few laughs. It’s comedy after all.

 

The show is the most well-documented live comedy show in Los Angeles. Is there any tension between crafting the live experience versus putting together the content for fans on the net?

We always approached getting photos, both live shots and portraits, as a natural extension of producing a creative show and a good way to connect with fans and share what you’re doing with people who may not know about the show. Certainly, you have to put the live show first, making sure the people who paid money are enjoying their time and have a relaxed documentary approach to photos so it just feels like a natural extension of the night. Any videos we post are always approved by the performers. Music, theater, and other live arts have a long history of benefiting from a documentary coverage from both critics and fans. It’s been rewarding to try and be a part of nudging live comedy in that direction, too.

 

Jen Kirkman by Callie Biggerstaff

Jen Kirkman by Callie Biggerstaff

 

Nick Kroll by Mandee Johnson

Nick Kroll by Mandee Johnson

 

Al Madrigal by Mandee Johnson

Al Madrigal by Mandee Johnson

 

 

What have been some of your favorite performances over the years at The Super Serious Show?

It’s hard to choose a favorite. It’s always a treat when performers try out new bits and/or really let loose at the show. We have a special connection with T.J. Miller, who has performed and hosted numerous times, always making it a surreal and one-of-a-kind night for the audience. We always like to reference his 2nd time at the show doing a short set. He told us he wanted to work on material to prep for an upcoming taping. Instead he ended up doing a fully riffed set. It’s one of the only full sets we have online, too.

 

Aparna Nancherla by Callie Biggerstaff

Aparna Nancherla by Callie Biggerstaff

 

You return to The Virgil on September 16th with Brooks Wheelan hosting. Are you excited to bring the show back home?

While we’re still partial to the unorthodox venues for Super Serious (Smashbox Studios, Fais Do-Do) The Virgil has been a good home the past few years. It’s been an easy fit, while we work on other projects, including hosting our weekly show (also at The Virgil) Hot Tub With Kurt & Kristen. The Virgil staff is really supportive of comedy and makes it a fun and easy place to put down comedy stakes when we need a home.

 

Are comedians ever serious?

Most of the time!

 

Buy tickets for The Super Serious Show with Brooks Wheelan on Wednesday, September 16,  at 7PM at The Virgil here.

 

For more info on The Super Serious Show, visit their website.

Follow Super Serious Show on Twitter.

Like The Super Serious Show on Facebook.

Check out all the amazing photography on their Tumblr.

Follow Mandee Johnson on Twitter.

Follow Joel Mandelkorn on Twitter.

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- who has written 26 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Steven Ray Morris is an author, musician, cat owner, and an okapi in his next life. Floating around California with detours living in New Zealand, Great Britain, and Japan, he currently resides in Los Angeles until persuaded otherwise. He is a UC Santa Barbara Film & Media Studies graduate and occasionally cosplays as Carl Sagan. Jurassic Park trading cards are his jam. Follow him on Twitter @StevenRayMorris.

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