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Comedy Whatever:

 Stand-Up in the New South by Stephen Centanni

MASTERS  SAUCIER

 

For more than a decade, The Blue Collar Comedy troupe has created a prolific representation of Southern comedy. Consisting of Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry “the Cable Guy” Whitney, this group seems to have set a standard for Southern comedy with jokes filled with redneck-centric material filled with catch phrases and delivered with down-home attitude. This comedic phenomenon reached its apex in May of 2013 when Foxworthy, Engvall and Whitney (along with fellow investors including Tony Orlando) announced plans for the construction of a 500 acre, multi-million dollar “Blue Collar” theme park in Foley, Al. As the “Blue Collar” guys map out their theme park, the face of Southern comedy is changing right up the road. Just 45 min. west of Foley in Mobile, Al., “Comedy Whatever” is showcasing a new generation of Southern comics whose material bears little resemblance to the “Blue Collar” boys.

Meet Sir William Masters. This Mobile-based comedian serves as both the host and the founder of the “Comedy Whatever.” Held weekly at Alchemy Tavern, this showcase has served as a platform for a versatile line-up of alternative Southern comics. Each week, this wildly mustachioed comic slips on a bad pin-striped suit with a butterfly collar exploding out of the lapel and presents a cavalcade of young alternative Southern comics. He also gets a chance to present his own brand of comedy, which is really bad. However, it is really bad on purpose. His time american financial installment loans on stage is spent delivering imaginative stinkers (“Why are lesbians such conformists? They only think inside the box!”) followed by the crowd’s awkward silence and Masters’ equally awkward heavy breathing in the mic before delivering the next joke. Masters was inspired to start “Comedy Whatever” after performing comedy open-mics up and down the Gulf Coast. He and Alchemy Tavern eventually crossed paths, and each party expressed a mutual desire to bring comedy to Mobile. On this particular evening, Masters is celebrating the one-year anniversary of “Comedy Whatever,” which he sees as being “1000% better” than when the showcase started.

“We’ve had time to grow and learn and do what we have to do to put on good shows,” says Masters.

The impressive crowd is obviously happy with Masters’ selection of comics for this anniversary. The receptive audience meets young alt. comics such as Baton Rouge’s Shelby Taylor. Taylor explains how she cannot seem to remember the first time she had sex but keenly remembers her first faked orgasm, which she eagerly reenacts. Southern alt. comedy is not without their parody characters, and “The Most Powerful Lez” Mac Harde is one of the most memorable. Donning a black leather jacket full of studs and a greasy, jet-black mullet, this New Orleans comic’s set is a hilarious tirade highlighted by her domination of women worldwide and the sexual habits of Disney princesses.

Kevin Saucier (twitter.com/sosure) is definitely one of the stand-outs for this special installment of “Comedy Whatever.” Representing Foxworthy’s hometown of Atlanta, Saucier begins to deliver his first punch-line, when an Alchemy patron almost america lending group destroys the moment by tripping over some tables and chairs. Just when the crowd thinks they are going to witness the first bomb of the evening, the young comic resuscitates the moment and saves his set. For three years, this young comedian has been pulling laughs out of the Atlanta masses at venues such as The Star Bar, The Laughing Skull Lounge and Atlanta’s Improv. He builds his comedy on clever wordplays and frustrations over everything from his day job to dealing with memories of his high school bully. Saucier was a zealous fan of comedy before he began delving into this profession. This love for the art began to blossom in his college years.

“I was really into stand-up records and podcasts,” says Saucier. “I was such a fan of it that I started writing in my head.”

A comedy night at the Barking Kudu in Birmingham, Al. served as his introduction to the stage. While he admits that his first experience at stand-up was not his best show, Saucier felt confident enough in his set to continue his life as a comedian. After relocating to Atlanta, he met a comedy scene that did have its share of “Blue Collar” hopefuls, who he describes as fitting into the “80s comedy mold.” However, he also discovered that Atlanta had a group of emerging twenty and thirty-something comedians as well as people hungry for their material.

“I hate to call it alternative comedy, because we’re just telling jokes,” says Saucier. “That’s a weird delineation. If you just want to american cash and loan detroit sound like you and don’t want to play a comedian, then you get branded as alternative, which is odd. There are a lot of young up-and-comers focused on find their voice and trying to be themselves as a comedian.”

Saucier has successfully made his way through the Atlanta scene, but this city is just a stepping stone for the young comic. He is making plans to move to New York City and “pushing the reset button” on his comedy career. For him, the move is a personal challenge. He has established his reputation as a comedian in Atlanta, and now, he wants to try his material on a city that is extremely savvy, when it comes to comedy.

“You’re great in your hometown where you incubated, but can you bring it up there,” says Saucier. “No one cares how good you were back home.”

Atlanta’s Jake Head serves as the headliner of the “Comedy Whatever” first anniversary party. He regales the crowd with his analytical dismay of rediscovering porn after spending time in a relationship that forbids it. Masters takes the stage one last time to thank the patrons for coming and encourage them to visit Alchemy Tavern’s downstairs bar before departing. As the audience files out, they are met by a long line of comedy lovers paying their cover for the late night show. Southern comedy is alive and well, and it is evolving for a new generation of comedy enthusiasts. As long as the crowd is there to laugh, comedy showcases such as “Comedy Whatever” will continue to thrive.