by Casey Jaywork
- The Capitol Hill Times -
In a city ruled by grumbling rainclouds half of the year, laughter can be the best medicine. Happy news: Capitol Hill boasts a new place to flex your funny bone, Scratch Deli’s The Good Fun Show. One block east of Cal Anderson Park, GFS brings self-deprecating monologues and raunchy one-liners within walking distance of the Hill’s main hub.
This standup comedy showcase, masterminded by local comics Elicia Sanchez and Wilfred Padua, is held the first Saturday of each month and offers hyper-local standup in an intimate community atmosphere. With just four performances under its belt so far, the fledgling comedy night has already begun to attract crowds that threaten to overwhelm its seating.
“Wilfred Padua and I had been talking about running a smaller comedy showcase together for a little while,” Sanchez said. “Eventually Wilfred suggested going with Scratch Deli, which was previously People’s Republic of Koffee, a space that was operated by the Seattle comedy collective Peoples Republic of Komedy.” Sanchez added that Scratch Deli’s new management has been supportive of GSF, extending its hours to accommodate the show.
While her standup revolves around madcap tales of social incompetence, Sanchez’s dedication to the show is as sober and straightforward as a jet of ice water. The night that I attended, she juggled logistics, working the door and preparing for her own set, while still making time to chat about the nuts and bolts of running an event like this. Sanchez described GFS as “bare bones and basic,” comparable to a fun, intimate, backyard barbeque where your drunk aunt or uncle gets a stage and microphone.
While GFS mostly features local comics who perform in their spare time, it recently welcomed a mystery guest – Seattle’s prodigal son, Andy Haynes. Haynes, who began his career in Seattle and has since performed on Comedy Central and Conan O’Brien, combines wry autobiography such as the misadventures of white privilege with observational humor like the futility of home juicers.
“[I] went to high school with Macklemore,” Haynes said, laughing. “I’m trying to catch up; I have a lot of work to do.”
Haynes began comedy shortly after the start of the Iraq War. “I wanted to do something political, but I didn’t want to do activism because I thought it was kind of lame. I’m kind of a troublemaker… I drove down to Seattle to go to an open mic, just to see it, and – no offense to anybody there – everybody there was really bad. I was like, ‘Oh, I can be just as bad as everybody at this.’”
Working up the comedy food chain, Haynes now has gigs on national television and writes for MTV and TBS. While he welcomes the success, he says that, for him, standup is still about the comedy. “My motivation is to have a really fun time on stage, and to hopefully have a mutually good time with the people I’m trying to entertain.”
Sanchez also stressed that, as a standup comedian, her bottom line is to make people laugh. When pressed, she conceded that, for her, comedy is more than a diversion.
“Although the cynical side of me really prefers to avoid discussing art, I definitely think comedy is an art form,” she said. “Once I saw Janeane Garofalo for the first time, I realized, oh, I can just talk about me and all the weird and embarrassing things that have happened in my life, make people laugh and in the process, learn how to laugh at it… Great comedy is healing in different ways. Some is just fun and helps you to relax and forget your troubles, some makes you think about life differently, and sometimes performers can build a bridge and remind you that you’re not the worst person in the room.”
The philosopher Aristotle claimed that comedy exaggerates the ludicrous – portraying some defect or ugliness that isn’t painful or destructive. While any definition of comedy is probably incomplete, Aristotle captures the spirit at GFS, where the absurdities of human life are laid bare, laughed at and, to some extend, accepted. Asked what he thought of GFS, Haynes said, “Comedy right now, the fun part of comedy, is that shows like this are happening.”