Published on June 25th, 2015 | by TLV News0
DIY Comedy Tour Crawls Up From Oxford Underground (by Alex Thiel)
Oxford comedian Connor King’s approach is simple enough: “In a sentence, ‘Screw it.’”
That’s how King responds when asked why he and four other regional comics have chosen the summer of 2015 to hit the road with the Beat Up Your Dad Comedy Tour.
“That’s kind of the theme of this tour,” he explains. “It’s a mixed bag of comedians… [T]he one thing we all have in common is that we have no reservations about taking the strangest routes possible to make people laugh.”
For much of July, these routes will take them from Memphis to New Orleans, with multiple dates in Oxford and other parts of Mississippi in between. And although this tour is evidence that they’re looking to branch out, these comedians have a burgeoning North Mississippi comedy scene to thank for their traction and success to date.
“Comedy is starting to take off in North Mississippi in a fresh and original way that Mississippi has yet to see. The comedy scene in north Mississippi is vastly different from what it was even a year ago,” says King. “In terms of live performances, it has gone from the occasional fifteen or so people in the audience to consistently packed houses. From the infrequent show every month or so to two shows in a week.”
“We think that North Mississippi has strongly established itself as the place to do comedy in the state.”
Connor King and fellow Beat Up Your Dad tour mate Stephanie Grammar both call Oxford home, and can routinely be found performing with local comedy troupe LaffCo. LaffCo has been around, in terms of Oxford comedy, longer than just about anyone else, and regular performances at Proud Larry’s have already endeared them to the area’s comedy fans. King and Grammar are two of the more recent additions to the LaffCo family, having only regularly performed in Oxford for roughly a year.
But while LaffCo specializes in improv and sketch comedy, this tour will be a showcase of stand-up acts from both Oxford and Memphis.
Rounding out the tour’s five members are three Memphians: France Armstrong, who frequents both towns’ comedy nights; William Montgomery, a crowd favorite at Memphis open mic due to his absurd, non-sequitur style; and Lila Bear, who has been booked at such Memphis comedy showcases as Those Girls Comedy Show and Don’t Be Afraid of the Comedy Show.
“All of the comics in this tour met working together regularly at both the P&H Café and Proud Larry’s open mic comedy nights,” King says. “No one really [has] the same style as any of the other comics.”
The tour will kick off in Memphis on Thursday, July 7, then make a pit stop at Proud Larry’s Friday night, July 8. From there, the Beat Up Your Dad tour will hit Hattiesburg, Jackson, Ocean Springs, and New Orleans on consecutive nights July 11–14, with more venues and dates still TBD.
These comedians will wrap up the tour in their own backyard (literally) with the Beat Up Your Dad Comedy Cookout in Oxford on July 18. Several other up-and-coming Oxford and Memphis comedians will perform alongside the touring five in this laid-back, one-off atmosphere. A few local bands, including Holy Ghost Electric Show, will play at the end of the night.
Though these five like to keep things lax and unpredictable onstage, they’re going the extra mile to make the tour both feasible and productive. They’ve set up an Indiegogo, King explains, “to raise funding for the tour’s logistics: travel, food, lodging, etc.” Friends of the tour can donate money online in exchange for “Beat Up Your Dad” buttons, koozies, posters, and t-shirts. Donations will be accepted until July 7, and links are available on the tour’s Facebook page.
Additionally, they’re bringing along a documentarian (Ole Miss Southern Studies/Art student Christina Huff) to capture the entire affair. King hopes that the resulting product can “prove to the state that the North Mississippi comedy scene is here to stay.”
“With the raw talent in this group… [w]e feel like this is the perfect time to showcase our abilities across the state.”
At the very least, these upstart comedians don’t lack confidence.
“Our comedy tour can beat up your Dad,” brags King. “I don’t care that it was Father’s Day and he didn’t see it coming, he’s a loser and I think the tour proved that and will continue to prove it starting July 7.”
This article was printed in The Local Voice #232 (published June 25, 2015).
To download the PDF of this issue, click here.