FREMONT FUNNY BUSINESS
by Kirby Lindsay
On Saturday, September 19, at 7 p.m., while Fremont Oktoberfest rages outside, the Brew HaHa comedy show will take the stage at Fremont Studios (155 North 35th St.) Down the street, at Töst Lounge (513 N 36th St), comedy has become part of the entertainment line-up. As last week’s host, Nick McCord, announced, “Welcome to the free show at the Big Bully.” This Sunday, September 20, the show will begin at 6 p.m. as an option for those looking for fun after Oktoberfest closes.
This is the second year Bold Hat Productions, organizers of the Oktoberfest, have introduced comedy to the festival. “We’ve seen a huge comedy uprising in the last few years,” Kelly Pflugrath, event coordinator for Bold Hat, admitted, “this year, in advance, we’ve sold more tickets than we had in attendance last year.”
Finding A Place
Jen Seaman, a local stand-up comic, brought the Big Bully here, after the last venue, King Cobra, closed. “I feel like Fremont is an ideal location for comedy, and for art,” she explained, and Töst offered “an intimate setting, good for trying out material.” Seattle has few comedy clubs - Comedy Underground in Pioneer Square, Laughs in Kirkland and Giggles in the University District – and “it does become a little daunting at an open mic,” she admitted, as a comedian wedged “between acoustic guitar sets.” Big Bully, Seaman said, “almost has an open mic feel but you know the audience is there for comedy.”
Both Big Bully and BrewHaHa are ages 21 and over shows, but BrewHaHa also charges for entrance. The audience must pay to enter the Oktoberfest MicroBrew Garden, then tickets cost only $5 for the show. Pflugrath explained, “with a ticket price we can get bigger names and a headliner,” such as Jubal Flagg, Kane Holloway, Jim Toombs, and Dan Sapegin. Also, as Pflugrath described, “Fremont Studios is a beautiful venue sitting in the midst of our event.”
Big Bully remains free, and Seaman thinks that best considering the economy. “We really aren’t paying the comics, except in hugs, and beer,” she admitted, and while she is generous with the hugs, she doesn’t overvalue them, “I’m just thrilled comics are willing to do this.” For the audiences, “it’s free escapism. It’s a treat for people in Fremont. I just don’t want to put a price tag on that.”
Building An Audience
“I know other people say they’ve always wanted to do stand-up,” Seaman explained, “I’ve really always wanted to do this.” As a kid, Seaman impersonated Fozzie The Bear, but it wasn’t until her mid-twenties when she moved to Seattle in 2005 (coincidentally, as an intern for Bold Hat) that she braved the “boys club” at Giggles and found success at an open mic.
Now she also produces, although “what I’ve been doing with [Töst owner] Chris is kind of impromptu.” Big Bully doesn’t have a set time or day yet, and Seaman has turned to unorthodox publicity methods. “I got tired of people not taking flyers,” she described of her distribution attempts at the Fremont Sunday Market to a flyer-phobia public. Now, she gets on her knees and scrawls her message on the sidewalks in chalk.
Look for the chalk art, or follow the laughter this weekend. Between the BrewHaHa Comedy Show (not to be confused with the Brew HaHa 5K run on Sunday morning) at Oktoberfest, and The Big Bully, this weekend should give everyone something funny in Fremont.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.