It’s another slow local-music-news week, so here are some items of minor note that have crossed this desk in the past few months. First, local cover band 99 Years are almost ready to release their first collection of original songs. The demo version, Who We Are, is currently making the rounds with the group’s press kit. For more information on 99 Years, visit www.99years.net.
Also, local “techno rock” mystery group Oddstar announced plans to release their first album, currently titled Stellar Anomaly, by the end of this year. For more information on the group, visit www.oddstar.com.
For a little more than three months now, local improv-comedy troupe The Oxy Morons have ruled Tuesday night on Wall Street. Their shows are almost always packed — often standing room only — and, in just a few short months, they’ve gained a very loyal following. For a group originally intended to keep the seats at the Artist Resource Center’s Jester’s Cafe warm on off-nights, they’ve been surprisingly successful.
Random Acts spoke with core group members Carrie Howard, John Howard, Lorriane Larocque and Graham Livengood — who met through productions at Haywood Arts Repertory Theatre — plus master of ceremonies Jeff Messer about what it’s like to be funny on the spot.
MX: Are you concerned about being compared to Whose Line Is It Anyway?
John Howard: We really can’t be compared to them, because they’re brilliant. That’s what they do. We’re working at it, and we’re getting better, but we’re doing different things than they are, and it’s a different format. It’s a whole different thing when you get to become a part of the audience.
Graham Livengood: They’ve also got an editing crew behind them.
Carrie Howard: If they say something stupid, it goes “snip-snip.”
Jeff Messer: They don’t do that live. They film that for probably about two hours, and cut it down to 22 minutes. So, you do the math.
JH: And if people did compare us to them, then that would be great. That’d be fantastic. I’ve got no problem with that at all.
MX: The format of the show involves a first half, then an intermission, then a more adult-themed second half. Why?
CH: It’s turned out that way.
Lorraine Larocque: Yeah, it has, because a lot of times we’re going to have people that come in and have to leave after the second show because it’s 9:30, if they have children. If they bring their teenagers here, we kind of want to not be as … saucy.
GL: It’s just so difficult not to be really, really bawdy in the first place.
JM: Being profane is actually quite funny. I know you can’t print this, but …
MX: Oh, watch me.
JM: Think about the word f••k. It’s almost as much fun to say as it is to do. I think people appreciate that.
CH: A lot of times the audience dictates the tone of the show because of their suggestions. When you get to “world’s worst proctologist,” things just evolve out of that.
JH: The great thing is that the audience is a part of the show. That’s the important thing. People coming in have to realize that they’re going to be a part of the show. When you can hear crickets when we ask for suggestions, that slows down the tempo.
CH: And by 9:30, they’re more loosened up, too. They feel more comfortable, and they know what’s expected of them.
MX: Tell me some of the better audience suggestions you’ve had.
GL: I can tell you that a disco in Siberia is possibly the least funny thing on Earth.
MX: This is directed at John. A lot of your jokes last week fell very flat. How do you feel when you walk away from a joke that doesn’t work?
JH: If it fails, it fails, you know? You just keep trying. You just do what comes to your mind. That’s what improv is. If it falls flat, which mine did last week, really badly, that’s all part of it. If you don’t get the laughs, then hopefully you get the groans. Hopefully, you get the boos, the hisses. That’s what it’s all about. You know [at that show] somebody [suggested], “world’s worst improv person,” and I got up and I took a bow. It’s all just fun.
GL: And plus, if the jokes go completely flat, they get what they paid for.
He’s speaking metaphorically: No admission is charged on Tuesday nights. The Jester’s Cafe, adjacent to the theater, sells food and drink (including alcoholic beverages). The Oxy Morons perform at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. every Tuesday night at the Artist’s Resource Center’s Area 45 Theatre (45 Wall Street).