by John F. Kaiser III | Navarro County Gazette
On March 18, The Palace Theatre will set the stage for a Stand Up Night featuring the hilarious stylings of comedians Mark Christopher, Grant Toliver, and Dean Stanfield. Show starts at 7:30pm.
Comedy is an art form that has evolved over the years, from slapstick to observational humor, from jokey-jokes to emotional storytelling. I took a moment to talk with Mark, Grant and Dean to discuss their craft, their process, and their perspective on the role of comedy in society.
Mark Christopher shared his process for developing new material. “I try a little bit of everything,” he said. “Sometimes I just sit at my computer and type until I come up with something I think I can work with. Other times I write while rehearsing jokes I’ve already written. After a while, you learn to spot the places in your act where you can add something more, and new material just seems to ‘grow’ in those places, like a weed through a crack in the pavement.”
When asked about the role of comedy in society, Christopher emphasized its importance in allowing us to approach certain topics that might otherwise go undiscussed. “I would never want to live in a country without comedy, although they tend to have great skiing,” he joked. You can follow Christopher on Instagram at @markchaha.
Grant Toliver discussed his thoughts on the evolution of comedy. “I think comedy has become a lot more personal,” he said. “The audience wants to hear more about their lives and connect on a deeper level, so most comedians tell stories about their trauma, identity, etc.” Toliver, who prefers to tell “jokey-jokes,” admires the emotional comedians who are willing to share their personal struggles with audiences.
One of Toliver’s most memorable performances was doing a five minute set in Spanish. “I had taken Spanish courses in high school and college, but never dreamed that I would actually be on stage performing in another language. I spent weeks before translating/practicing with my tutor to make sure the jokes made sense. It was great, the crowd loved a Gringo with his terrible accent telling jokes. And I’ve done Spanish sets almost 10 times now.” You can find Toliver on social media at @tallhumancomedian.
Dean Stanfield shared his inspiration for becoming a comedian. “My inspiration comes from multiple different areas in my life,” he said. “My storytelling ability came from my grandpa’s friends. Every summer, I would hang out with them fishing, and every winter, we were hunting. I learned the love of storytelling from them, and that translated into comedy.” Stanfield also drew inspiration from coworkers who had become old without chasing their dreams during his six years of building power lines.
When asked about how he handles hecklers or difficult audience members, Stanfield emphasized the importance of identifying what they want. “If it’s for attention, you can give them some kind of temporary gratification,” he said. “Most will shut up. Some people want to be a part of the show, and that behavior can’t be tolerated, or everyone’s night but that person’s will be degraded in some capacity. So usually I stop and engage that person by talking through what they interrupted with and move on to my act. Or, if the crowd is unruly, I’ll just use the rest of the set doing crowd work and messing around. Some crowds just want to talk, and you might as well put your notes aside and make the most of it.” You can follow Stanfield on social media at @deanastanfield and catch his weekly shows in Austin, Texas at The Creek and Cave.
These three comedians represent a diverse range of perspectives and styles within the comedy world. Whether through personal storytelling, jokey-jokes, or engaging with hecklers, each comedian brings their unique approach to the stage. And in a world where laughter can often be the best medicine, their contributions to society are invaluable.
Tickets to their March 18 comedy show can be purchased at corsicanapalace.com/stand-up-comedy.
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The Hull Creative Arts Foundation and the Lampier Family.
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