Comedians embrace onomatopoeia; hilarity

By Andy Williams

T he only taboo is hack,” says Jeff Kubik, one of the founders of a new local comedy initiative for the “alternative mind,” Kaboom… Hooray!

Kubik, along with fellow comedian Alan Cho, have a very specific idea of what they aim to accomplish with their new project.

“When people hear comedy, they see it with this broad lens,” says Cho. “There’s this idea that comedy is comedy, but comedy is just like music — there’s different genres, there’s different styles. Even within standup itself, there’s so much range and I think people forget that. For us, we wanted something that was a little more weird, a little more hipper — much more hipper, please quote me exactly.”

With one successful event down, the two former Gauntlet contributors are currently basking in their glory.

“It’s a very high bar we’ve set for ourselves,” says Cho. “We’ve sold out, turned away people and the audience response was fantastic. It felt very special, very charged. There was a very special energy that night. And because we believe in things like that energy, we’re very happy with that.”

“Our main goal is to replicate the success of the first night,” adds Jeff Kubik. “We’re doing it as a monthly room obviously, so it’s great to have a good one-off show.”

The events are specifically targeted and the style of the show is something the founders, who have both worked in the Calgary comic scene, are very focused on.

The two aim to cultivate a niche and a community around their events. Though it’s impossible for them to explicitly predict what material comedians will bring each month, they are structuring the evenings around a comedic aesthetic that has become more and more popular.

“Our comedy heroes are people like Louis C.K. and Patton Oswalt and Eugene Mirman,” says Cho. “Those are the kind of people we look up to. Canadian comedy doesn’t have to be in the narrow band that people have placed it in because they see things like Ron James’s stuff. We just want to say, ‘There’s something different, there’s something weirder, there’s something that can maybe scare the shit outta you, but you’re going to laugh.’ “

In the past, the two have tackled everything from bear rape to sexing up Spiderman.

“Al and I are both big fans of dark humour and darkness can be a really hit-and-miss thing on stage,” says Kubik. “Another thing that we try to convey when we talk about alternative comedy is that we are also courting a certain audience that might not be otherwise getting out to a comedy club. We’re hoping they are into the all the same stuff we’re into — stuff that’s designed to have a couple levels.”

Though the two have structured the event around what they want, they also have clear ideas about what they don’t want.

“There’s one kind of joke that I won’t truck with and it’s Chinese driver jokes,” states Kubik. “It’s big a discussion in comedy because that stuff can get laughs, but we want to get more than just laughs, we want to get recognition, you know, ‘Oh, that was very smart.’ “

It’s a sentiment that Cho shares.

“The problem with something like that is: who’s the victim of the joke?” asks Cho. “For our comedic sensibilities and the sensibilities of the room, we want to be the victims of the joke or explore who the victim of the joke is, rather than laughing at someone for being gay or being a Chinese driver.”

Cho and Kubik felt that to avoid this kind of humour, it was best to curate their own event.

“We want to be less craven about it,” explains Cho. “We don’t want to push those buttons. Especially in clubs, a homophobic joke is an easy go to. You know that a drunk audience at 10:30 at night is going to laugh at the word ‘faggot.’ That’s just not funny to us. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s disrespectful.”

That said, Cho and Kubik stray away from hard and fast rules about what material their shows will or will not cover.

“There is no subject that we don’t expect to explore and we do laugh at some off-base, crude things,” says Kubik.

The nights are bookended by Cho and Kubik. There are also a wide range of sketches and skits and other stand-up comedians from around Calgary and the shows vary greatly in material. There is one rule the two do stress though.

“We just ask that you own it,” says Cho. “We own it — we will stand by the joke, we’ll accept the consequences. I feel people will tell a sexist or misogynistic joke and be like, ‘Hey, I didn’t mean . . . .’ We, don’t believe that. Jeff and I talk about how, when we tell a joke, we want some blood on it. We have ownership, we stand by it, it’s our joke, it’s us.”

Kubik, promises though, that the concessions are now “99 per cent blood free.”

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