The Comedy Scene That Could

Yes, we have no club, but we have a lot of heart

Here in Boise, we have no dedicated comedy club. But we have a lot of dedicated comics. On any given night, you’ll find ten to twenty-five comedians showing up to hit an open mic, hosted by local legends like Nate Ford, Greg Sisco, Ian Yearsley, Josh Price, Tanya Cope, Danny Monsoon, and, of course, Mundek. You may not recognize their names or even their faces, but there’s a core group of comics, some good, some hopeful, and some, perhaps hopeless, but the common thread is that they show up, night after night, to practice their craft, “because,” according to Nate Ford, “this is what the open mic is. It’s a gym. It's target practice.”

I arrived in Boise last August from Los Angeles, one of the meccas of comedy. Most aspiring comics think of leaving Boise rather than coming here, but I’m just barely at the starting line. Mundek’s been in this business for eighteen years and he’ll probably end up in Vegas. Ian hasn’t decided quite yet. Maybe Austin, maybe someplace else. He’s only ever lived in Idaho, but he’s ambitious, a former front man for a band. Comedy allowed him to find his unique voice. According to Ian, “writing funny is way harder than being funny.”

Venues aren’t plentiful in Boise. We’ve got the Mad Swede (Downtown and “low energy chaos” at Cole), the Clairvoyant, the Handlebar, Watson’s, in Garden City, there’s Lounge at the End of the Universe, focused on bigger, out of town acts, And Don’t Tell Boise, a pop-up show hosted by Henry Russell Stoddard. You don’t know where Don’t Tell will pop up till Henry tells you on the day of the show. The Egyptian hosts big name acts when they’re not screening movies or doing other things. It’s not that comedy’s an afterthought, it’s just that it’s not the only thought. Local venues have to make a buck. There’s been talk of us getting a Wiseguys, but we’ll believe it when we see it. Liquor licenses are expensive. Or maybe we’re just too small. And where will they put it? Meridian?

There’s a risk in writing about our local comedy scene. I’m bound to leave somebody important out. Like Hailee Lenart-Wees, without whom there might not be any Boise comedy scene. Hailee is the driving force behind Blue City Comedy, a producer of shows like Boise’s Comic of the Year. She asks us:

“What does it mean to be professional? Professionalism involves being reliable, setting your own high standards, and showing that you care about every aspect of your job. It's about being industrious and organized, and holding yourself accountable for your thoughts, words and actions.”

You learn quickly just how professional our local comics are. Greg Sisco, comic and screenwriter, traveled the world where opportunity led him, like Mexico and China. He showed up in Los Angeles in February 2020, right before the pandemic. He came back to Boise several months later and has been active here in multiple roles like host, featured comic, and headliner. He was Blue City Comedy’s 2023 Comic of the Year. LJ Sullivan, along with comic/bartender Gabriel Benjamin, hosts the Tuesday night mic at the Clairvoyant. LJ treats funny business as serious business. He’s “trying to get on the road more. Trying to level up my merch game, like just sort of trying to be more serious about it being a business, I guess.”

Where will we go from here? We just celebrated the winner of Blue City Comedy’s 2024 Comic of the Year, Sophie Hughes. Sophie likes to clear the air right from the get-go. Yes, she’s a trans woman. The one you’d call to help you move. She’s a twelve on the funny scale, and though I didn’t get the chance to interview her for this story, I plan on remedying that in the future. Along with all the others I missed. In this tight-knit community of comics, there are so many stories to tell. These people are kind, and welcoming. They’re willing to share their knowledge and wisdom. And they’re the reason I feel there’s a bright future for comedy here in Boise. I hope you’ll come check us out.

Professionalism is about being industrious and organized, and holding yourself accountable for your thoughts, words and actions

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