After a three-year break from live shows, Charleston’s alt comedy scene is making a return.
Rip City CHS, an experimental comedy/variety show featuring original sketches, characters, music, performance art and everything in between, is back. Curated and produced by Henry Riggs and Maari Suorsa, the comedy duo known as “Nameless Numberhead,” Rip City has been a staple in the underground comedian scene since its inception in 2015.
The show returns Nov. 12 and continues monthly at rotating venues. This month, Silver Hill Studios will host the show. In December, Hed Hi Studio, Tim McManus’ brain child and hub for some of the coolest studio artists in town, will host a free show.
“We love a nontraditional space!” Riggs said. Starting in 2023, Rip City will be hosted at LO-Fi Brewery on Upper Meeting Street.
After the pandemic-induced break, Riggs said he is excited to return to live shows and harness the energy he feels from his fellow artists.
“Talking to artists around town, they’re ready to get up there and get performing,” he said. “I feel like there’s an exciting, frenetic energy in the creative community here where people are inspired and ready to make stuff. Audiences are slowly getting back to consuming it.”
Riggs and Suorsa call themselves a “hyperbolic comedy duo with 400 years of experience.” For the past eight years, the married couple has produced, performed and taught comedy in Charleston.
Riggs said he is “freakin’ stoked to get this show back out into the world” after taking a break during the pandemic, with the exception of Rip City’s live streamed show, DigiRip.
Over the years, Rip City has been a catch-all testing ground for local comedians, musicians and artists of all varieties to explore the weirder side of their mediums.
The show features a rotating cast of artists, so it’s entirely new every time. Riggs said Rip City is about “providing an experimental platform for Charleston artists to explore a weirder side, to try things out.
“Charleston’s a very music-driven town,” he added. “So we’re friends with a lot of musicians and we’re always trying to find that crossover between comedy and other mediums … We feel like a lot of artists are just genuinely funny and they don’t get to show that side of themselves through whatever their medium is, because there’s this level of seriousness to it.
“It’s fun to get someone out of their element and say, ‘Hey do something that you might not normally do, on stage at the Royal American, or as an actor, something that you may not get to do in a play, that thing you’ve always wanted to do that’s maybe a little weirder, or something that you can’t quite describe because it doesn’t fit any traditional boxes.’”
Past Rip City performers have moved away over the last eight years, but the core principles of the show always encourage new voices, creating a comfortable atmosphere for audiences to discover new performers. And, for performers to experiment with their craft.
Past performers include: The EffinBRadio Podcast, Marcus Amaker, Andy Livengood, Secret Guest, Jessica Mickey and many more.
“Coming up, we’ve got some really fun guests,” Riggs said. “Jenna and Corey from Babe Club are gonna come do some stuff. They’re so silly online. We want to encourage that silly side of artists. Then there’s some old classic people returning: Tim Hoeckel is one of the funniest guys in town. I’m also excited for Camille Lowman and R.W. Smith from PURE Theatre.
“I try to curate it based on what I know of people’s work,” he said. “And then I trust that they bring something different and out there.”
Rip City is developing a more creative Charleston, which Riggs and Suorsa see as the antidote to the constant creation of more Charleston developments.
“We’ve always used Rip City as a subversive platform to have discussions about how the city is or is not making space for art,” Riggs said. “I like being tongue and cheek with it. I think we give a lot of money to developers, and art is often thought about in the least amount of priority. I wanna talk about why artists are constantly leaving this city. And I don’t have the answers to that. But I definitely want to question it … what can art be in a city that desperately needs it?”
Rip City CHS returns Nov. 12 at Silver Hill Studios at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
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