I’m back, dear readers. You couldn’t get rid of me that easily! And what better time to once again grace the pages of the Mountain Xpress than the annual humor issue? The same issue where I made my print debut two years ago before becoming the publication’s first ever — and, according to my editor, much beloved — humor columnist.
Each month in “Best Medicine with Morgan Marie,” I gathered three new funny folks from across the region’s comedy, arts and business communities to weigh in on all things WNC. From favorite places to cry to suggestions for replacing the former Vance Monument, “Best Medicine” wasn’t afraid to tackle the hard stuff.
Yeah, yeah. TF have you been? Asheville needs you!
After a year of delivering giggles to the good readers of Western North Carolina, I’ve now found myself an unexpected citizen of Charlotte — Asheville’s buttoned-up, banker cousin to the East. (The one that gets extremely upset when Asheville arrives late to the holiday party bearing only vegan cheeses and gluten-free cookies before vaping throughout dinner.)
“Best Medicine” has since moved on without me, but I’ve been called back to this publication to chart the differences between Asheville and Charlotte. Admittedly, as only a recent citizen of Charlotte, I feel unqualified to be making sweeping generalizations about the city. However, as a comedian, I feel it my duty to express my unqualified opinions in print.
So, is Charlotte as bougie and judgmental as I’ve heard?
Known as a hub for business and finance, Charlotte wasn’t exactly where I saw myself living as a comedian with limited, if not nonexistent, understanding of both business and finance. Plus, I don’t even own a vest! However, Charlotte’s similarities to Asheville have so far been surprising. Maybe that’s because I’ve settled in North Davidson (aka NoDa), Charlotte’s eclectic arts district with live music, funky fashion and a vibe comparable to my former neighborhood of West Asheville.
Elsewhere in the city, folks dress to either work out their cores or their taxes. Going from day to night in uptown Charlotte means from law firm to spin class, while in downtown Asheville it implies from seance to service industry.
Mo’ money, mo’ problems … but also mo’ mics?
Comedy has by far been my biggest introduction to the city. After years of performing in Asheville, it’s both exciting and intimidating to be the new kid in town.
The comedy scene in Charlotte is bigger than Asheville’s, with open mic lists so long that hosts often rely on “bucket spots,” a show-running method in which comics put their names in a bucket and only go up if theirs is drawn. That differs from Asheville open mics where everyone almost always goes up, and hosts physically find comics to tell them they’re next. In Charlotte, hosts announce the lineup from the stage by saying who’s “on deck” between comics, requiring a level of attention that might devastate certain Ashevilleans.
How are the
tomato throwers audiences in each city different from the other?
Charlotte audiences are also different in that they’re mostly local, a far cry from Asheville audiences, which are often chock-full of out-of-towners. Perhaps that’s because unlike Asheville, Charlotte isn’t much of a tourist destination. Someone on a Charlotte subreddit described the city as “a great place to live, but not a great place to visit” — a stark contrast to Asheville, which seemingly works to ensure the city is a great place to visit but not live.
I could always count on the few Asheville locals in an audience to relate to my astrology material. Charlotte audiences? Not so much. At one of my first Charlotte open mics, I asked a man in the front row his moon sign, and he responded, “The f***?” While I may not be able to bank on Charlotte audiences to navigate the planetary alignments, they are reliable for crowdsourcing financial advice, to the extent that I recently had an audience member explain a 401(k).
That’s great, but what about the comics themselves?!?
I’m mostly seeing similarities. It seems open mic culture everywhere predominantly consists of loud, mostly cis, mostly young and mostly white men chain-smoking and drinking PBRs while waiting to deliver often teeth-clenchingly bad jokes to an audience of three. However, there are a few differences. Asheville comics live up to the city’s reputation for “keeping it weird” by showing off Dollywood tattoos and talking about sexual awakenings in church. Charlotte comics tend to keep it a bit more … mainstream.
Something both comedy scenes have in common is that, so far, everyone has been extremely welcoming and nice. That may sound lame and less than believable when referring to a group so often labeled as bullies, but the truth is that comics are some of kindest people you’ll meet. That’s because most of us have never been cool and therefore don’t take ourselves too seriously. Do you think that most people who grow up cool or attractive go on to be stand-ups? No! They’re probably doctors. Or if in Asheville, essential oils specialists.