Are we watching comics fist fight to the death in an alley somewhere? No, but Washington believes that this new show is definitely one that will improve a comedian’s act and stage skills.
“It’s a comedy show like no other. I had an opportunity to start a new show and I didn’t just want to have another open mic,” he said.
Started in March of 2018, Comedy Fight Club is an interactive comedy show where the audience participates as much if not more than the comedians performing. The audience is there to throw “curve balls” at the comics.
The show centers on a wheel, almost like a game show, that each comic spins when they first jump on stage. The wheel has different slots with sets of rules for the comic’s set. In other words, a comic can’t just go on stage and tell the same old set again.
“The wheel allows comics to develop a certain muscle. It’s more of a gem than a comedy show or open mic,” Washington said.
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For clarity, one of the audience’s favorite rules is Tough Crowd. If a comic spins and lands on this option, the crowd is instructed to basically torment the comic while they are on stage. They can yell, throw things or actually get on stage with the comic.
Speaking from experience, I landed on Tough Crowd when I performed at the show. Basically, I was yelling my set at the crowd and trying not to get flustered by the comments and objects whizzing past me.
“If you go to a comedy club there’s going to be a time when someone is going to want to yell out. You have to be able to deal with that and work around it. Some comics are intimidated by that moment. I know that was my biggest fear,” Washington said.
One moment that stands out to Washington was when local comic Travis Charles spun the wheel and was forced to sing his entire set. As a country singer. In front of the entire audience for five minutes. He said it actually helped him though.
“Singing my set was extremely terrifying. But it was a great exercise for my mind to have to adapt and think on the fly. I actually rewrote my jokes on the spot to make them fit the country back track. It was a lot of fun and made me even more comfortable taking chances on stage,” Charles said.
And that’s why comics go to this show. The show even has regular audience members who love to watch because as Washington said, “the show is just so bizarre.”
Washington doesn’t want to give away all the rules on the wheel, but he said that he does try to change them regularly. Typically, he will change two or three slots per show. However, there are some rules like Tough Crowd that are on the wheel indefinitely.
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So why do comics put themselves through this? The torture of telling jokes already exists. Why throw gas on the fire? Washington said it is because it is necessary.
“It’s a difficult room to do well in. Most open mics are for comics to feel like they are doing well. Comedy Fight Club isn’t designed for you to go crush, but you will learn. It’s a needed room and people are becoming better comics because of it,” Washington said.
The next Comedy Fight Club will be Wednesday, Feb. 6. Sign-ups for comics is at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. at Ned Pepper’s in the Oregon District. Shows are also planned for March 6 and April 3.
Come watch comics squirm and lose their self-esteem in five minutes. Or get on stage and spin the wheel yourself. If you have ever wanted to learn how to deal with a heckler, it’s the place to do it.
WANT TO GO?
What: Comedy Fight Club
When: Feb. 6, March 6 and April 3. Sign-ups for comics begin at 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.
Where: Ned Pepper's, 419 E. Fifth St., Dayton