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  • Chris Grant - Comedy Journey Update

    Here I am, roughly 6 months into my journey of doing standup comedy on a regular basis. I’ve always loved standup, and got my first George Carlin tape when I was only 12 years old, it was “What am I doing in New Jersey”. I was young and dumb, and had to listen to it over and over to actually understand all of the jokes, because a lot of them went over my head. This tape made me fall in love with standup, and I carried the desire to perform, for a long time before I actually did it. I can't tell you how grateful I am that my first tape was Carlin, and not some wack comedian from those days... Since then, I’ve basically been a fly on the wall, studying comedy, comedians, and joke writing. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent watching/listening to specials, and seeing touring comedians at the Blue Room (thanks Chris). I guess my point is that based on solid evidence, I've become pretty funny, and all my work is starting to pay off in the form of laughter. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t have a long way to go when it comes to comedy, but I think I have some pretty decent momentum going right now. I’ve also developed some goals and aspirations in this sphere, and I really thrive on having direction when it comes to anything in my life, really. I’ve also found that the open mics around the SWMO area are great, and that we have an amazing amount of talented comics performing just underneath the surface. In some ways, I feel like I’ve infiltrated a secret special underground unit of undiscovered talent. For the most part, the art coming out of these folks is original, honest, and hilarious! After being around the scene for a while, I feel like people are missing out on these comics, especially when they perform for free at open mics. At the same time, I don’t necessarily want anyone in these rooms that don’t appreciate these comics, because they are special, and they’ve worked extremely hard to craft their sets. Where are all the cool, cultured folks in this area that enjoy this type of thing? We need you!! At most mics around here, there will be around 15 comics on the list, and out of those comics, I would say that at least 11 of them are going to be funny. There are always a handful of standouts at every mic, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy watching a few people crash and burn on stage from a safe distance? At this point, I’d rather sit and watch local comics work out their material live, than watch a fully polished Netflix special. What’s even better is watching a comic who started out being absolutely terrible turn things around, and become someone folks look forward to seeing; I may or may not be one of these comics… From here, I’m looking forward to where things go! I’ve got about 30 minutes of good material banked, and I’m looking into booking some shows! One of my goals is to put some of these underground comedians in front of you, so you can realize what you’re missing! Having been to Austin, TX, the comedy capital of the world right now, I’ve realized that SWMO is in such a good position to be another significant hub for standup. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the quality of comedians in SWMO per capita is equal or BETTER than the quality of comedians in Austin. This isn’t fluff either, I’ve done the math, and more seasoned comedians I know have echoed the same sentiment. That’s right, if you’re not going to local comedy shows and open mics in SWMO, you are unknowingly robbing yourself of something beautiful, that’s happening right in your backyard. To wrap things up, thanks to those who continuously show up to spectate! Without you, the comics can't gauge how funny their jokes are, so we need you there whether you're laughing or not! If you haven't been to a comedy open mic in a while, or ever, I’m pretty confident that after reading this, you'll want to come out and support, so I’ve left some links for local open mics below. I've also left a couple of days blank for any venue owner who might want to try a comedy open mic, or a weekend show! A good Wednesday mic is definitely much needed in Springfield right now! That's about all I've got for now, If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for reading my blog!! - Chris Monday - Bugsy's (Springfield) - Hosts: John Spangler and Benjamin Gontor Tuesday - Bites and Pipes (Joplin) - Host: Russell Henley Wednesday - Thursday - Corner Pocket Comedy (Springfield) - Hosts: Levi Light and Layton Flatt Friday - Saturday - Sunday (every other) - Blackthorn Pizza (Joplin) - Host: James Hiser Blog post written 9/13/2023. Please double check venue information etc., as things may have changed. Thank you!!

  • Austin, Texas Comedy Journey

    Recently, I travelled to Austin, Texas for the largest record convention in the United States. Going to the Austin Record Convention is something I’ve dreamed about doing since before I opened our downtown Springfield, MO Heavy Heads Records location. I have a video and blog about that coming soon, but please enjoy my story about comedy while I'm editing! If you know me, you know that I’ve always loved stand up comedy, and although I’ve gotten up at several open mics over the years, I’ve only recently begun to really dive in, and see what I’m able to do with the art form. I’ll also let you know right up front that I am aware that I am not good at comedy. Up to this point, I’ve earned some groans, chuckles, and even gut busting laughter at some of the open mics I’ve been a part of, but when I say good, I mean consistently good, captivating, you get it. I have an enormous amount of respect for comedy, and those who have refined their material, and crafted lengthy sets. I think it’s responsible to be responsible with the word good. I’d like to say I know just how hard good comics work, but I don’t, because I haven’t experienced what they have. The best I can do at this point is imagine how hard it is for them, and let them tell you about it in their interviews. I arrived in Austin on May 5th, just shy of midnight, and lucked right into a great Mexican restaurant called Las Cazuelas, for a Cinco De Mayo feast. I’m not trying to talk badly about our local Mexican restaurants, and I’ve yet to try them all, but this was absolutely the best Mexican food that I’ve ever had in my life! After the meal, I made my way downtown to scope things out, and quickly realized I’d also lucked into being there the weekend of the Pecan Festival. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know drunk people liked pecans that much, because I didn’t see a single pecan the whole time I was there; they must have eaten them all before I arrived. My GPS was set to take me directly to the Comedy Mothership, which just recently opened on March 7th of this year. If you’re not aware, the Comedy Mothership is Joe Rogan’s new comedy club that has taken over the old Ritz theatre on 6th street. When I got close, I realized the pecan lovers had blocked off the streets for the festival. At that point, I made an executive decision to head to my Air BnB and call it a night. The Mothership would be there tomorrow. After the record convention on day 2, I went back to the Air BnB to clean up and change, then I grabbed a Lyft and headed back to 6th street. As soon as I was dropped off next to the barricade, I headed straight back toward the mothership. I don’t usually fanboy too hard, but I was absolutely enthralled by it, and so were a lot of other folks. We were all hovering around the club, like insects hover around a porch light on a hot summer night. That particular night, Ian Edwards was playing, but the show was sold out. The club did offer an overflow line around the corner of the building, for those who were willing to wait for seats that may come available. I’d done some Googling by this point, and I was also aware of the newer comedy club Sunset Strip, just a few doors down from the Mothership, so I had a tough choice to make. After a couple minutes of going back and forth with myself, I decided that the move was to hit Sunset Strip, and I’m very glad I did. At Sunset Strip, the cover was $30, but you got 50% off with a coupon code at the door. I know it’s a hustle, and promoters do what they have to do to get people in the doors, and I’m so glad they do! I was very happy to pay $15 with a 2 drink minimum, to see authentic Austin comedy on the legendary 6th street! The lineup for the evening was great, and all of the comedians were funny, but I’ll be honest, I don’t remember all of their names. There were two comics that absolutely made my night though. The first was a surprise spot by Tony Hinchcliffe, of the YouTube series Kill Tony. If you like dark comedy, this guy is an absolute beast, so much so he might actually have hooves. On top of Tony’s disgustingly funny humor, I watched him absolutely crush a heckler’s soul. It was so satisfying because the heckler dared to tell one of the most savage comedians in the world that he didn’t know what he was doing up on stage. I wish I could have captured it on video, but nobody did, because they made us lock up our phones! I assure you, it was every bit as gruesome as I’m making it out to be, and I’m holding back a lot to keep this article Springfield friendly. I’m actually glad they made me ditch my phone, it’s nice (and sad) to be forced to focus my complete attention on the performer, for the entirety of the show. It felt like when you get grounded as a kid, but then realize your parents were right, and were just looking out for your best interest. We’re ramping up now, and if you stick with me, you won’t regret it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the comedy stylings of Tony Hinchcliffe, but Casey Rocket was the standout of the night for me. I’m not saying I’ve seen every comic and every special out there, but I’ve absorbed a lot of comedy in my life, and I’ve NEVER seen someone with an act quite like this, wow. He was physical, had props, roasted, riffed, and did not stop moving the entire time. One thing I love about these random adventures is that I don’t do a whole lot of research, I just land somewhere and go. I find this method to be much more fun, and if I’m going to look every detail up online, what’s the point of experiencing it in the physical world? My point is that I had no clue that Casey had won Austin’s best comic in 2022, and I was seeing him for the first time, without knowing a thing about him. I’m grateful to have experienced his act for the first time, completely raw and unfiltered. I’ve dropped a link to a video from when he performed on Kill Tony, and I highly recommend going down the Grimace hole on all of Casey's socials. WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT Sunset Strip offered karaoke after the show, and I had good intentions of belting out a song, but I was too impatient to wait for them to set up the equipment for it, even though they were working quickly to get it going. I did, however, jump up on stage for a quick picture. If you saw the picture on my social media, I never said I performed at Sunset Strip, but I never said I didn’t either. I’ll know you actually read this, if you know that I DID NOT get to to do stand up at Sunset Strip. However, I left the comedy club that night, absolutely sure that I was going to find at least one open mic, where I could run a set the next day. I joined a few Facebook groups, which led me to the @austintexascomedy Instagram page, where some beautiful soul posts about all of the open mics that are going on throughout the week. There were two afternoon mics, but one had been rained out. Madrone Coffee Company was the only afternoon choice, and I was ready. I practiced my material at the BnB, and made my way over to the coffee shop. The vibe of the shop was super chill, and it was a mixed mic that was heavy on the comedy side, hosted by Derek Dimpfl. There were several comics there, and Derek was kind enough to put the list out early for everyone. All of the performers were very welcoming, even to an out-of-towner like myself. The room was adorned with an upright piano, and Derek played for about 15 or so minutes before the show started. When Derek opened the show, he informed everyone that he’d be playing the piano softly in the background while the comics performed, similar to Mitch Hedberg’s special “Strategic Grill Locations”, in which an upright bass was played. Derek’s playing provided a cool vibe for the afternoon, and some comics even incorporated it into their acts. One comic asked Derek to play a certain piece of music after every punchline, then scolded him when he would forget, they played well off each other. At this mic, I got a few laughs, and some fist bumps from other comics. I left feeling great, and ready to tackle another mic later on in the evening. My options for the evening were trying to get randomly picked for a 3 minute open mic slot at the Comedy Mothership, and another open mic at San Jac Saloon. If I was in Austin, and didn’t do everything I could to get myself into the mothership, I would have never been able to forgive myself. It was now Sunday, downtown was less busy, and street parking was free. The only way to sign up for a potential spot at the mothership is to physically show up in front of the club, on time, and write your name down. After you’ve signed the paper, your fate is up to the comedy gods. I’m not sure how they pick people, but the best theory I came up, while I was waiting, is that they have a team of folks checking everyone’s Instagram followings, while simultaneously looking out the one way tinted glass on the windows above, riffing on everyone who clearly doesn’t have a chance. If I’m honest, that’s probably what I would do too. The guy with the sign up sheet came back outside with the final list, and around 100 comics surrounded him like they were carp at a feeding dock, and he was throwing food. He taped the list to the wall, and it didn’t take me very long to notice his mistake, I was NOT on the list! I had zero expectations, but I was just happy to be there, so I wasn’t actually disappointed. As I stepped back away from the list, I noticed all of the other comics form a herd, and start heading down the sidewalk, over to the San Jac Saloon. At the Saloon, I ran into a couple of the guys I’d seen at the afternoon mic, including the host. This mic was run in a lottery style, where you pick a number, and that’s where they put you on the list. Out of over twenty comics, I picked number 3. At this mic, each performer got 4 minutes. After being there for a short time, I quickly noticed that the vibe of this room was wildly different from the room earlier in the afternoon. There was a much more serious vibe, with a dash of disappointment in the air from the rejection at the mothership. I don’t think serious is a bad thing though, I think it’s 100% necessary. The people I met in Austin are living and breathing their dreams, and have even moved to Austin specifically to pursue comedy, so they deserve every minute of stage time they get, and would be doing themselves disservices if they weren’t taking it seriously. I think now is just as good of a time as any, to admit that I bombed this set. The only joke that worked was when I asked if anyone had dropped a pin, because that’s how incredibly quiet the room was. Okay, I’m lying to you, I didn’t even tell that joke during my set, but I did write it because of my set. I know I’ve made it sound terrible up to now, but let’s turn it around. As bad as I’m making things seem, my set still at the San Jac Saloon managed to capture a couple of laughs. In retrospect, those laughs are huge to me, and those jokes are keepers. If they made people in that room laugh, I think they’ll work anywhere. Just to be clear, the room got better as the comedians got better. I think there are always external reasons why jokes don’t work, but I also think that truly funny and talented comedians can break through almost any barrier. I left this mic inspired to revise the material I have, and to write a lot more. There was one more mic that was happening that night, at The Creek and the Cave but I decided to skip it because I was wiped out. The concept was great though, each comedian got to do one minute of comedy, followed by 3 minutes of heckling from the crowd. The comedians were allowed to fire back at the audience members who were daring enough to heckle them. As I sit here, I wish I would have stuck around to see it, maybe next time. It was time to get some rest for the trip home the next day. I’ve said a whole lot about the Austin comedy scene, and myself, but I haven’t said anything yet about the comedy scene in Springfield, MO. After going to Austin, I’ve realized even more that what we have in Springfield is very special. Thanks to several folks in town over the past few years, Springfield has arguably surpassed its former glory, and continues to rise, when it comes to comedy and its future. Springfield hosts a lot of big name comics, but there’s a great underground open mic scene too, and Springfield has some incredible homegrown talent. We also have some great comics who have moved here from other cities, who bring a whole other element to the Springfield scene. If you’re reading this, and you’re not up on Springfield’s comedy scene, you’re missing out. It’s raw, hilarious, awkward, entertaining, hilarious, exciting, embarrassing, and hilarious. Do yourself a favor and check out one of these open mics ASAP. Springfield, MO Comedy Open Mic Schedule Monday - Bugsy Malones Tuesday - Paddlewheel (Branson) Wednesday - N/A Thursday - Corner Pocket Comedy (Inside Billiards) Friday - N/A Saturday - N/A Sunday - Blue Room Comedy Club

  • The Story Behind Michael Jackson's Well Deserved Production Credit for the Album "Thriller"

    Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album is a masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences around the world. One of the many fascinating aspects of this album is the producer credits listed on the back of the album cover. These credits reveal the key players who helped bring Michael Jackson's vision to life, including the legendary Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson's own father, Joseph. When "Thriller" was released in 1982, Michael Jackson was already a superstar. He had released "Off the Wall," which was produced by Quincy Jones. For "Thriller," Jackson knew he wanted to work with Jones again, as he respected Jones' musical talent and the chemistry they had developed on their previous collaboration. Jones, in turn, assembled a team of talented musicians and producers to work on the album, including Bruce Swedien, who served as the primary engineer and mixer. Swedien was a longtime collaborator of Jones and had worked on "Off the Wall." CLICK FOR THRILLER ON VINYL AND MORE! However, Michael Jackson was not content with simply being listed as the album's performer. He wanted his name to appear alongside Quincy Jones and his father, Joseph. This was an unusual move, as it was not typical for performers to be credited as producers on their own albums. It is important to note that only the first pressings of this album do not include Michael Jackson as a co-producer on the back cover. Michael Jackson's desire to be listed as a producer on "Thriller" was driven by his passion for the project. He was deeply involved in the creative process and had a clear vision for what he wanted the album to sound like. He worked closely with Quincy Jones and the other people involved to shape the songs, write lyrics, and even create sound effects. Michael Jackson was the driving force behind "Thriller," and his contributions to the album were critical to its success. By insisting on being credited as a producer, he was acknowledging the hard work and dedication he had put into the project. The producer credits on the back of the "Thriller" album cover are a testament to the collaborative effort that went into creating this iconic album. They serve as a reminder that great music is often the result of talented individuals working together towards a shared goal. Michael Jackson's desire to be credited as a producer on his "Thriller" album was an expression of his deep involvement in the creative process and his commitment to making the best possible music. Alongside Quincy Jones and his father Joseph, Michael Jackson played a critical role in bringing this groundbreaking album to life. Their collaboration and dedication produced an enduring masterpiece that continues to inspire and entertain audiences around the world. CLICK FOR THRILLER ON VINYL AND MORE!

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