If there’s one thing the Charleston Comedy Festival is known for, it’s producing shows with random comedy acts together on a single stage and letting the laughs roll in. This year’s festival has a few such shows, and one of them, the Comedy Marathon with Squirm and Germ, the Bartenders, and Shock Ts, promises a night of musicality and hilarity unlike any other.
And why wouldn’t it? Combining musicians with a flair for the dramatic, a hip-hop rock comedy duo, and an improv team dedicated to bringing only the most interesting and intense characters to light, how could it be anything but a night of chaotic fun?
Squirm and Germ
This hip-hop/rock/jazz/funk musical comedy duo (yes, they do all that!) of Tim Girrbach and Rodney Umble have the musical comedy thing down pat. They’re a couple of down-to-earth guys from New York and New Jersey, but they’ve trained with some of the best in the business including Upright Citizens Brigade and Second City. But these days, they’re all about the music. Heavily influenced by hip-hop, rock, and the craziness of the world around them, their act is part Beastie Boys, part Flight of the Conchords, and all super high-energy. Their song topics ranging from Neti Pots to kids’ birthday parties to pregnant women out on the town, and they’re all about getting people up on their feet. They’ve performed all over New York City and are excited to make their debut in the south at the Charleston Comedy Festival.
“We hope people are ready to have an amazing time,” says Umble. “We love getting the crowd going, and we love encouraging the audience to dance.”
Next on the night’s agenda will be the Bartenders, a pair of gorgeous girls (Mary Guiteras and Christine Holt) from New York who decided to work together in comedy after working together as (shocker) bartenders in a Manhattan nightspot called the Magician.
“We would make each other laugh to the point of being unable to make drinks — usually about customers,” says Guiteras. “We’ve been performing together for two-and-a-half years, and although our shows are not necessarily about bars, we bring in those extreme characters and the ridiculous behavior we encountered during our time working.”
Since then, they’ve gone through improv training at the People’s Improv Theater and have taken their act up and down the East Coast, even coming to Charleston for Piccolo Spoleto in 2013. Theirs is a straight-up improv set, using the stories and experiences they’ve gathered for years to create, every night, an exciting, unique experience.
Festival alums Shock Ts, starring Sarah Shockey, Tim Dunn, and Tyler Paterson, will round out the marathon with their acoustic brand of musical comedy. With a single guitar to accompany them, played by Paterson, the trio may sing about failing relationships, younger and more successful people, and botched American Idol auditions. But with an ever-changing, ever-growing catalog of songs, their act will always be fresh and original.
The group’s been performing together for a number of years, since they all met at Second City’s conservatory program. “Shock Ts started as a one-off show that we wrote a few songs for — just because that seemed more fun than just another run-of-the-mill improv set,” says Paterson. “And we found that we had a lot more fun being musical. After our second show, we were so stoked on this thing that we had stumbled onto that there was no question on if we’d continue. We absolutely were, and that became our first priority.”
Since then, they’ve performed around the country, and Charleston is one of their favorite stops along the way. They’ve performed at the Comedy Festival, Piccolo Spoleto, and are looking forward to being in town once again. —Leah Rhyne