Stand-Up Tuscaloosa brings comedy to new venue


John Norman, a comedian, interacts with the audience at Brass Tap's stand-up comedy event, "Tap that Brass." CW/ Scarlet VanMeter

Desi Gillespie, Staff reporter

In the intimate space of the Brass Tap, there is no distance between performer and listener, and comics become like revered storytellers one might encounter at a regular dive.

“Tap That Brass” is a performer-only event featuring three to five comedians per evening. Thursday night saw the acts of Richard Lockhart, Ben Kronberg, Vincent Zambon, Caleb Garrett and John Norman.

“You know, most comics have day jobs,” Lockhart, the host, said as he introduced the act. “Me, I work in the health and beauty department at Publix. That’s especially funny to me as a part time comedian, because do I look like I care about either of those things?”

Garrett and Zambon were quick to follow suit, opening with every comic’s go-to: self-deprecation.

“I was sitting outside before I came in for the show and I noticed that the outdoor speakers were blasting this mic at full volume,” Caleb Garrett said. “I’m a little nervous that the kids in the Chuck E. Cheese parking lot are going to hear this stuff.”

“I don’t exactly have a real job, so I was just sitting at home in bed being bored and waiting for this show,” Zambon said. “That’s when I started tracking Hurricane Florence to pass the time, for far too long. I mean how depressing is it that, I’m tracking a national in bed, waiting to come and make a disaster of myself.”

Kronberg has appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Half Hour” and NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” His style is one of punchy one liners, making the audience think through exactly what they’ve just heard. The laughs he got were slow to develop but eventually echoed loudly throughout the bar.

“I met Richard [Lockhart] when I did a show for him a while back, and he just called me up and asked me to do this one,” Kronberg said. “I do shows all over. I started out in the South.”

Kronberg traveled to a show in Atlanta after performing at the Brass Tap Thursday.

Lockhart said he looks for comedians through Facebook and contacts them via Messenger. He works with Stand-Up Tuscaloosa, overseeing their calendar and occasionally running events like “Tap That Brass.”

“We bring in all types of comedy,” Lockhart said. “I look for people who will be good draws, look at who they’ve opened for, that sort of thing. A lot of the line up are local comedians.”

Lockhart said he encourages UA students to attend comedy events.

“It’s a good time,” he said. “Everyone with Stand-Up Tuscaloosa is part of a chill tribe, good people.”

Thomas Augeri, a senior majoring in geography, is a frequent customer of the Brass Tap and a good friend of Lockhart.Many frequenters of these shows are brought in by friendships or associations with performers and venues.

“I’ve been going to Stand-Up Tuscaloosa shows for a couple of years now,” Thomas Augeri said. “When I first moved here one of my friends was a comedian who performed for different events. They were the one who really got me into it.”

From the one-liner methods of Kronberg to comic storytellers, “Tap That Brass” will see a wide range of styles from a variety of comedians. The second Thursday of the month will host regional comics from all across the country, while the following fourth Thursday will feature local comedians from different parts of Alabama.

“We do our best to make sure everyone has a good time,” Lockhart said, “I look at audition videos, YouTube clips, I’m always looking for funny people to fill these shows up.”

The biweekly Thursday show at the Brass Tap is only one of many Stand-Up Tuscaloosa events. The Druid City Brewing Company BrewHaHa Comedy Showcase is held every first Wednesday beginning at 8:00 p.m., hosted by Adam Condra. Every fourth Wednesday there is another open mic night at Black Warrior Brewery, hosted by Louis Lartigue, sign ups are at 7:30 p.m. and the show at 8:00.

The mission of Stand-Up Tuscaloosa is “to provide a state-of-the-art stand-up comedy experience in its rawest form.” And with so many open-mic nights, it’s clear that participation is a large part of their operation.

“We believe comedy is something that, if you feel like you can do it, you should at least try, but once you start, there is no promise that you will ever be a normal person again,” Lockhart said.