Local jokers

Photos by Justin Belleme

The 60 comics performing at Laugh Your Asheville Off come from all over the country — a testament to the festival’s national drawing power. Four of this year’s performers at the main events — Tom Emmons, Cary Goff, Tom Scheve and Becca Steinhoff — are longtime denizens of Asheville’s stand-up scene. They’ve been hard to miss at venues like Athena’s, Pulp and the Magnetic Field.

If it’s true that some of the festival’s funniest moments arise from jokes about Asheville’s unique attributes, then these four have a leg up on the out-of-towners. After all, this city has been their comedy bread and butter for years. So we asked each of them for some choice Asheville-related riffs.

Tom Emmons

“I have a friend who had to milk her dog. I asked her, ‘What do you do with that? Do you make yogurt or cream cheese, maybe coffee creamer?’ I mean, it is organic. I know someone in Asheville is thinking, ‘Organic dog farm — nobody is doing that. I don't even think they have it at Trader Joe’s.’ She also had to get it a baby monkey to take care of, but that is another story.”

Becca Steinhoff

“I went to high school here. They used to interview the homecoming court on mandatory high school television. They once asked this homecoming queen where she wanted to go to college, and her answer was priceless; I'll never forget it. She said, 'I'm gonna go to Harvard, Yale or A-B Tech.' Oh, good, you have options. So if you don't get in to one of the top Ivy League schools in the country, you get into Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. Hope you can find somewhere to park. And hey, I saw her there four years later; she made her top three. That is excellent news!”

Cary Goff

“I love Asheville, but it gets a little too hip for its own good sometimes. Just found out that Santa Claus won’t be closing out the yearly holiday parade next year. He wasn’t progressive enough for Asheville. I heard next year the parade will end with Agnostic Holiday Man riding a sleigh made of recycled bottles pulled by eight tiny Toyota Priuses. No elves, of course, just yoga instructors throwing out gluten-free tree bark for the kids to gnaw on.”

Tom Scheve

“It's easy to confuse the bearded, hairy men of Asheville with your common black bear. I have discovered some key differences:

• After waking up from a six-month nap, bears have things to do.
• Bears do not perform interpretive dances that mourn the loss of foreskin during infant circumcision.
• Someone would take notice if a bear chained itself to the front doors of a downtown bank.
• Bears occasionally make it in the entertainment industry.”

— Jon Elliston can be reached at jonelliston@gmail.com.

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