Starting Sunday July 9th, 2023, Memphis Current is partnering with three local comedians to create a rotating showcase comedy show to highlight comedians from Memphis alongside traveling comics.
Doors open at 6pm, with comedy starting at 7pm. The organizers of the show are producer John Miller, host Justin Burgess, and talent acquisitor Nate Jaxon. The cover is $10 and happens every Sunday.
Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get started in Comedy?
NJ: I’m Nate Jaxon and I’m born and raised in Memphis TN. After being a musician for 21 years I wanted to just make people laugh.
JB: My name is Justin Burgess, I’m originally from Memphis, but I spent a few years in San Francisco, where I started doing comedy, before Covid shut everything down and I moved back home.
I went to a comedy show downtown, and at that show, I met most of the people who are still influential to me in the Memphis comedy scene today. The next week, I started going to open mics and I haven't stopped since.
JM: I’m John Miller. I spent my childhood in Miami, before moving to Memphis in my teen years. I officially started my comedy career at the ripe age of 17 at my high school talent show.
Are there any local comedians that have inspired you?
NJ: The late Judy Driscoll. She always pushed me to never hold a joke back and to give the crowd all I got.
JB: John Miller. He was at that first show I went to and has helped me navigate the scene ever since.
JM: Henry Coleman, Richard Douglas Jones, and Rob Love are my local inspiration.
Why is it important to develop/ maintain a local comedy scene?
NJ: It's important to maintain and develop a local scene because, It helps you to develop who you are and to understand the comedy of where you come from as a person and as a comic
JB: The individuals or groups of individuals who produce their own shows ARE the comedy scene in Memphis. Outside of that, there is no scene. It is crucial that comics continue to produce their own shows and maintain them.
JM: Comedy is important — socially and culturally.It serves as an easily-digestible social discourse and commentary in a way that other live performance art just can’t.
What makes comedy its own unique art?
NJ: No two comics are ever going to be the same or have the same viewpoint. So it makes it unique, and the fact that it can be really welcoming or really offensive. It's all about how the comic perceived the joke of what they're telling you.
JB: With comedy, the result is finite. Any other performing art can be interpreted many different ways from many different perspectives as to whether or not it was a "good performance." Not with comedy. Did the audience like it or not? Did that crowd enjoy that set? It's always a yes or no.
JM: Simple answer is that comedy can’t be conventionally taught. Only those with innate humor and no fear can be stand up comedians.
What makes a comedian good? What makes a joke funny?
NJ: Practice, practice, practice — also bombing because it makes you want to work harder and make the jokes better.
JB: Perspective. Comedy is like ice cream, there is a flavor for everyone. Just because I don't like pistachio, doesn't mean that Baskin Robbins doesn't sell 17 million gallons a year.
JM: Originality and knowledge of comedy makes a comedian good. A joke’s merit comes from simple surprise, misdirection, and relatability.
It seems with Tik Tok and Instagram, comedians have found a perfect medium to promote their work in the virtual world. What are your thoughts on how those formats affect comedy as a whole?
NJ: I give them a lot of props. But even though you know the struggles of working on hard jokes and sketches only for someone to flip past them to look at some chick's butthole.
JB: I miss comedy albums on vinyl records. To me, that is comedy. Unedited, raw, in its natural form. Stand-up comedy is a performance art, you have to be in the room to appreciate it fully for what it is. But, I also just found out Dave Matthews hasn't been cool for over a decade, so, what do I know?
JM: Social media has put the power back into the hands of the performers and the people. The people choose who they like and the performers aren’t necessarily chosen anymore. Whoever works hard gets the attention. I’m making a push on social media myself currently. It’s the current nature of the game.
For those looking to get into comedy, what do you recommend?
NJ: For those looking to get into comedy, the best thing to do is find an open mic or to go see comedy in your city and build a connection with those people. And don't be afraid to get on stage and tell your joke.
JB: Stick with it. Comedy is a skill that has to be learned and earned. No one is born being able to sink 3 point shots consistently. That takes the dedication to keep practicing until you get good at it. Same is true for comedy.
JM: If you want to get into comedy try finding a local open mic and tear your ideas out on stage. It’s not real until you do that.
What do you hope this show brings to the city that isn’t already available?
NJ: I hope that this show brings lots of new faces that should be seen and heard. But I also hope that it brings Memphians out to meet these up-and-coming comedians.
I also want this to be an open door for road comics and bigger named comics so that they see that Memphis is a formidable comedy city to be reckoned with.
JB: Sam Prager (the wise and noble young man that he is) told me that he designed this establishment to look like a 90's comedy club. I would love to bring other comedy show producers to Memphis Current to begin booking shows here as well, so that we all can help grow this place and use it as a hub for Memphis comedy.
JM: This Show is gonna provide a new vibe and energy within the medium. New energy will bring new attention. Memphis could be a top comedy talent producer here soon.