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by Octavia Silva — July 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Alyssa Cowan_005 (2)

Q&A with a Local Comedian is a frequent column that profiles funny people across the city. Want to be featured? Know someone who ought to be on here? Drop us a line.

I first met Alyssa Cowan before a show at Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar in Adams Morgan.

She and another comedian I interviewed, Ahmed Vallejos, are the driving forces behind Laugh Owens Laugh, the production company that puts on great shows like “Virgin Material” and the upcoming “Meryl Streep Stories.” She also helped produce the 202 Comedy Festival that took place earlier this spring.

Alyssa and I met up again and had a conversation on the origins of Laugh Owens Laugh. But we started by talking about WWE Battleground, which took place at the Verizon Center last Sunday.

Borderstan: Tell me about Battleground.

Alyssa Cowan: It’s a pay-per-view. Basically, every week, [the wrestlers] have TV episodes that are leading up to setting up these big story-lines that’ll transpire during the pay-per-view, so that’s when titles change hands. That’s when fancy stuff happens. That’s when people go crazy and get put through tables.

That’s what I associate with wrestling, like the chairs and tables, getting to the edge of the ring and slamming their body down.

Yep, all that stuff… All that cool stuff.

So, they’re going to bring it; every wrestler is going to come bringing every trick they have up their sleeve and just unleash it wildly.

This is when they go balls to the wall, like when this is go bananas. And it’s happening in D.C., it’s very exciting.

How many wrestlers are there?

Oh man, I don’t know… maybe twenty-ish?

How long does that go for?

It’s going to go for four hours. The first hour of it is going to be matches no one gives a sh-t about. They’re just kind of there to warm up the crowd. It’s going to be until 11.

Wowza. Do you guys get an intermission?

No, but they always put a crappy match in the middle, so you’re like alright, now’s my time to buy funnel cake.

I wanted to ask you about Laugh Owens Laugh. Just how it started and everything. I love the shows that you put on.

We love doing them and we love making them exist. The reason why we wanted to do them in the first place is because these were shows we wish existed and we can try to put them on ourselves in an appropriate venue. It just means that we can watch them, we can see them and we know they have opportunities to grow. It started mostly because I was somewhat gifted at open mic, so I was running it as an open mic for a while, but it was on a Wednesday and in D.C. comedy, there is so much going on on Wednesday that’s an open mic.

So, it’s not exactly something that the scene needs, like no one’s looking for stage time on a Wednesday – you can usually find it.

I ran an open mic in Reno for a couple of years and we used to do a bunch of challenges and gimmicks, like we would do something different every week. And it used to make it so much more fun. The community’s so small there, like, there are hundreds and hundreds of comics in D.C., whereas in Reno, there were maybe 30 or 40. Adding a different challenge where you had to do something different made it interesting for us to actually see each other and like each other.

So, when I had the open mic, it wasn’t really working very well as an open mic and I remember there was a concept show that Ahmed wanted to put on and I was like “Oh I’ll just ask if we can loan you the venue for that show.” And it was the Switcheroo.

Oh yeah, I went to that.

I’m glad, that one is a hoot. That one’s so fun. Especially if you like watching comics struggle, which is very funny. I feel like it’s very funny to everyone and it’s funny to be a comic struggling on stage. Not because you did a bad job writing, but because you’re in a situation that’s so difficult. I feel like people empathize with you, so they’re not angry that you’re not funny. They’re understanding about it.

When we started loaning the venue for shows we wanted to, we switched over and were like, we should just be doing this because no one’s asking for another Wednesday open mic. So, that’s kind of how it evolved. It’s cool to have a venue where we can try whatever we want and we’ve been fortunate enough to where people seem to be interested in the stuff that’s going on.

The venue that we’re at now is amazing. The guy that runs it is super cool and I think these are shows that he’d want to see. It’s awesome to have that venue support.

Yeah, definitely. How did the name Laugh Owens Laugh happen?

When Ahmed and I had one of the previous names, we had this chicken guy. This rooster guy that I made that we just really liked. He was just this rooster wearing a suit and we didn’t want to get rid of him. We just thought he looked funny and classy, so we were trying to think of names where we could keep him and the reason we thought of Laugh Owens Laugh is because there’s a wrestler right now named Kevin Owens and one of the chants people yell at him is “Fight, Owens, Fight!” I think one of us made a passing joke of calling it “Laugh Owens Laugh” and then having the rooster be Owens and we were just like, that’s great. We’re going to go with it. We like it.

Mostly because the acronym goes to LOL, which is perfect for comedy. It just came from us ’cause we’re dumb wrestling fans.

***

Information on Alyssa Cowan and her upcoming shows/festivals, including The Summer Camp Show at Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights, can be found on her website. To find out more about Laugh Owens Laugh shows, visit the group’s Facebook page.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity; photo courtesy of Alyssa Cowan.

by Courtney Brown — July 29, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Star Trek starship (Photo via Flickr/Ezra S F)The latest “Star Trek” movie is set to play at a Union Market theater this weekend, with some additional perks for Trekkies.

To celebrate the release of “Star Trek Beyond” and the science fiction franchise’s 50th anniversary, the Angelika Pop-Up movie house at 550 Penn St. NE is scheduled to hold a free “SciFi convention” Sunday from 1-8 p.m., event organizer Elyse Roland said in an email.

“We’ve got Sci Fi fever,” the theater said on its Facebook event page.

In addition to screenings of the flick, Angelika is slated to have Fantom Comics, Riverby Books and Intervention 7 on hand with toys, comic books and clothes geared toward science fiction fans. The theater also will sell hot dogs, nachos and other food.

“There’s no better way to catch Star Trek Beyond for your second or . . . third time,” Roland said.

Photo via Flickr/Ezra S F

by Courtney Brown — July 27, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Photo via Facebook : Mount Pleasant Poetry Project

Mount Pleasant soon will have published poets to call its own.

The neighborhood’s amateur authors have submitted more than 100 poems since the Mount Pleasant Poetry Project dropbox program launched in April, according to the group’s leaders. The poems collected from boxes around the neighborhood now make up “The Mount Pleasant Poetry Anthology,” which the organization plans to release at a free party at the Mount Pleasant Library (3160 16th St. NW) at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow.

“There are over 100 poems in the book, written by all ages on all topics, ranging from the silly to the serious,” Oliver Bendorf, co-founder of Mount Pleasant Poetry Project, said in an email.

Added Temim Fruchter, the other co-founder of the Poetry Project: “We kept interrupting each other to read [the poems] aloud, because they were just so great.”

Bendorf and Fruchter will have some copies of the free anthology at the party and will leave the rest of the books at the places that hosted the dropboxes.

Food and drinks, such as cake, chips and guacamole, and Jarritos sodas, are on the menu for the celebration. The co-founders also plan to have local poet and activist Quique Aviles give a brief poetry reading at the party, Bendorf said.

“I think people have felt inspired and excited by the opportunity to connect to each other around poetry… and that’s a really cool thing,” Fruchter said.

Photo via Facebook / Mount Pleasant Poetry Project

by Alyse Mier — July 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm 1 Comment

Dozens of small press publishers from across the region will gather at a church in Columbia Heights this weekend to celebrate the art of making zines.

The sixth D.C. Zinefest is set to kick off at St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church this Saturday at 11 a.m.

The annual festival showcases work that is independently produced, published and photocopied, according to event organizer Jeff Okun-Kozlowicki. More than 50 “zinesters” will exhibit homespun works of fiction, sketches, poetry, personal narratives, fan essays, comics and art, Okun-Kozlowicki said.

Though the subject matter varies, the end goal is always the same: creating something original.

“If we don’t create, no one will exercise our creative muscle for us,” Okun-Kozlowicki said. “More broadly, it’s about providing a space where people can share their work.”

This year’s event will also include panel discussions, added Kozlowicki.

“Panel discussions have been done before, but not in recent years,” he explained. “The panels will be about zinesters of color and mental health and zines.”

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. All proceeds from the event will benefit activist collective Positive Force D.C.

by Courtney Brown — July 20, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Facebook Monologues - Host, photo via Dee Ahmed

A group of performers will gather in Adams Morgan tonight to act out heated Facebook discussions.

Comedian Dee Ahmed is scheduled host the performance, dubbed the “Facebook Monologues,” at Rendezvous Lounge (2226 18th St. NW) with local comedians Max Wolfson, Denise Taylor, Steven Chen and Natalie Mcgill tonight at 8 p.m.

The show revolves around some of the “funny and ridiculous” Facebook arguments Ahmed and his cohorts sometimes see on Facebook.

“A very good chunk of [the performance] is legit and verbatim comments of what people have said on Facebook,” Ahmed said.

According to the event’s Facebook page, comedians will riff on arguments centered around “everything from politics to race to who was supposed to bring the brie.”

“You get very, very random people that post something completely unrelated to politics,” Ahmed said. For instance, he said he once noticed “someone just asking for a good recipe for a chicken sandwich” in the middle of a serious political discussion on Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page.

There was also a melodramatic debate on Facebook that had “two girls arguing about whether or not someone should be friends with someone or not anymore,” Ahmed added.

Still, although the upcoming show was inspired by Facebook arguments, Ahmed explained he doesn’t get into arguments on the social media platform.

“It’s kind of ridiculous,” Ahmed said.

Photo courtesy of Dee Ahmed

by Alyse Mier — July 19, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Fans of pie and NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” can get a slice and catch a former show contestant on the H Street corridor next week.

Singer Sarah Potenza is scheduled to give a free performance at the Dangerously Delicious Pies at 1339 H St. NE next Thursday, July 28, at 9 p.m. But the shop will have music starting at 8 p.m.

The Season 8 contestant known for her signature white glasses and raspy rock vocals made it to the competition’s top twenty last year.

Potenza traveled back to her hometown of Nashville after the show and continued her career as a musician, selling out shows at the Grand Ole Opry, according to her website.

She is touring the nation before her new album,”Monster,” is set to come out Aug. 19.

by Alyse Mier — July 14, 2016 at 2:35 pm 0

A longtime art gallery in Adams Morgan will showcase hundreds of works from local artists as part of an annual show that runs through the end of August.

More than two dozen emerging artists visited the DC Arts Center (2438 18th St. NW) yesterday and paid $15 to secure a space on the gallery wall as part of the annual exhibition called 1460 Wallmountables.

Executive Artistic Director B. Stanley said the event regularly attracts dozens of artists from around the District.

“Over the last 10 years, people have really taken it seriously and show something of quality and show it well,” Stanley said.

The local art is displayed across the gallery’s walls and includes photographs, paintings and other mediums. There is no curation or selection process. If an artist pays the $15, their work goes on the wall. As the gallery’s slogan goes, “if it fits, it shows.” And it’s worth it, Stanley said.

“In my 22 years working here what surprises me is just how much quality work is out there that we don’t get to see,” said Stanley.

Artists come and display “a lot of high quality work that doesn’t get shown anywhere else,” Stanley said. “It’s usually political, esoteric or silly.”

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by Alyse Mier — July 11, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Tim Six String General Granlund, photo by Whitney Young

Performers in outrageous costumes are ready to rock out with invisible guitars at a popular music venue on 14th Street this weekend.

More than a dozen of the country’s best air guitarists are slated to gather at Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW) Saturday night to compete for the title of U.S Air Guitar’s 2016 D.C. Champion, according to the annual event’s organizers.

“[D.C. is] probably our biggest show of the year,” said Stroock, who describes the annual competition as “a combination of stand-up comedy and a rock concert.”

The winner of Saturday’s competition will then travel to Austin, Texas, for a shot at becoming the nation’s best, said former D.C. champion and U.S. Air Guitar host Doug “Thunder” Stroock.

Among the air guitar aficionados slated to perform in Saturday’s show are five-time D.C. champion Lance “The Shred” Kastan and two-time national champion “William Ocean,” who will also help judge the competitors.

D.C. itself has come in second in the world or country in the last three years,” Stroock said. “This could be our year to win the whole thing.”

And there’s an added bonus for this year’s extravaganza, Stroock said. This year’s competition will be sponsored by Air Jamz, a company that promises to make a device “that turns air guitar into wear guitar and your moves into music.” Air Jamz will demo its new device during Saturday’s show, Stroock said.

Photo of Tim “Six String General” Granlund Whitney Young

by Octavia Silva — July 8, 2016 at 1:20 pm 0

Ahmed Vallejos (Photo courtesy of Ahmed Vallejos)Q&A with a Local Comedian is a frequent column that profiles funny people across the city. Want to be featured? Know someone who ought to be on here? Drop us a line.

I’ve met Ahmed Vallejos a couple of times, but one of the first was at a show he was running at the Handsome Cock on U Street. It was called the Switcheroo, where the first half of the show involved comics performing their own stand-up and for the second half of the show, each comic had to imitate the styles of famous comedians. I thought that was such a good idea and he plays a huge part in developing and putting on shows with a unique premise, adding to the increasingly abundant local stand-up scene.

We chatted about a few things, including some of the shows he’s currently working on.

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by Alyse Mier — July 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Photo courtesy of Pink Line Project

A new art show at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is looking to teach locals about social divides using a competition between runners as a metaphor this weekend.

RACE: Talc & Ash,” a performance about gentrification, race and class in D.C., is set to occur in the library at 901 G St. NW at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The production, starring Holly Bass and Christopher K. Morgan, will mirror a sporting event, with pre-show tailgating and live commentary.

“Showing two people racing against each other is my way of distilling the conflicted social dynamics caused by gentrification into a very simple, easily digestible image,” Bass said.

The two artists will race each other while standing inside of a bottomless, square wooden frame. Talcum powder will fill one of the frames, while the other one will have ash. The racers must keep the sides of the two frames touching at all times.

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by Alyse Mier — June 28, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

Die Die Die, photo by Ben Johnson

An “improvised slasher movie” is on its way to a 14th Street theater.

The Washington Improv Theater will resurrect its horror flick parody “Die! Die! Die!” at Source (1835 14th St. NW) as part of its upcoming “Summer Camp” series of shows.

The show follows a group of teens spending their summer in the isolated Camp Crystal Lake. Naturally, the campers make typical horror movie mistakes like having sex and experimenting with drugs and are picked off one-by-one by a costumed killer. By the show’s end, only one camper lives to see the true identity of the murderer — or not, said Dan Miller, WIT’s external relations director. This is improv, after all.

“Sometimes we decide to flip the script and the sole survivor ends up dying,” Miller said. “There’s really no guaranteed happy ending.”

But this is not a graphic slasher flick, Miller added. “There’s never any blood or gore,” he explained. “We will tell you there is somebody whose guts are spilling out, but all you see is them making strange faces.”

The show is often just as much of a surprise for the actors as it is for the audience, Miller added.

“You step on stage and don’t know if you’re the killer or the first person to die,” said Miller, “We figure it out with the audience. Once we do, we own it.”

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by Tim Regan — June 27, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

Town Danceboutique 2016D.C.’s “largest gay danceclub” is ending one of its longest running holiday traditions.

Town Danceboutique (2009 8th St. NW) plans to host its final “WTF” party this weekend, according to a Facebook event post.

WTF is a themed event series usually held around holiday weekends. Previous parties have attracted blasphemers for Good Friday, fitness fanatics for Thanksgiving and a big yellow cat for MLK Day.

“WTF is retiring at the ripe old age of 7. In party years, that’s like 107,” the Facebook post reads. “We’ve had seven solid years of late-night fried chicken, Pu$$y Noir’s milk showers, Dirrty Pony’s disappearing act, JaxKnife’s radioactive bearlesque, Salvadora Surrealness and Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 10 or 11 contestant BaNaka!”

The last hurrah before the event’s “gaycation” will revolve around a “happy ending” theme.

“Take this opportunity to wear that lewk you’ve always wanted to wear, to bring that squirrelfriend you’ve always wanted to bring or eat that hotdog you’ve always wanted to eat in front of that boy you always wanted show how well you eat a hot dog,” the Facebook post continues.

The party starts this Sunday at 10 p.m. and will include appearances and performances by Ed Bailey, Aaron Riggins, BaNaka, Pu$$y Noir and Salvadora Dali.

Read the full event listing below:

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by Courtney Brown — June 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm 9 Comments

Water gun firing, photo via Flickr : Graham Dean(Update on Monday, July 5: This event has been cancelled, according to its Facebook event page. Bummer.)

Read our original story below:

Combatants are prepared to wage war with water on a playground near U Street next month.

More than 6,700 people have signed up to attend “the largest water gun fight D.C. has ever seen” at the Harrison Playground (1330 V St. NW) on July 9 at 1 p.m., according to a Facebook event page.

Though the water war was originally scheduled to occur at the Washington Monument, the event’s organizer, Alex Gonzalez, said the National Park Service “[wasn’t] too pleased” about hundreds of people with squirt guns year the National Monument.

No matter the location, Gonzalez said the water gun fight is meant to evoke the kind of squirt gun battles he had as a child.

“I have fond memories of the insane water gun fights I had as a kid,” Gonzalez said. “I’m just trying to recreate that magic on a bigger scale.”

Gonzalez, who also organized the snowball fight in Meridian Hill Park in January, said that he expects between 300 and 2,000 people to show up to the event.

Attendees should bring squirt guns with portable water tanks but should leave the water balloons at home, Gonzalez said.

Photo via Flickr / Graham Dean

by Octavia Silva — June 20, 2016 at 1:20 pm 0

Photo courtesy of Pearl Rose Hood

Q&A with a Local Comedian is a frequent column that profiles funny people across the city. Want to be featured? Know someone who ought to be on here? Drop us a line.

Pearl Rose Hood is lovely. I’ve seen her perform a few times and every time, her sets are simultaneously bold and charming; truly a combination anyone, comedian or not, should strive for.

Borderstan: So, three [shows] a night? I feel like when I first started going to shows, it wasn’t quite to that level, that there would be that many opportunities.

Pearl Rose Hood: There’s opportunities. There’s different kinds of opportunities. If you were to try and do multiple shows a night in D.C., you’re going to inevitably do a range of rooms, based on what would be going on those nights and a lot of people talk about the benefit of doing rooms where it’s not that many people. Maybe they didn’t even know that there was comedy happening and that’s a tough crowd to win over. But that’s the kind of stuff that makes you better in front of crowds that are more accepting, as well. And sometimes it is nice to bomb somewhere and you can do better somewhere else. I at least try to get up six to nine times a week.

69?

420 days a year.

[Joking aside,] that’s a lot. And you feel consistently enthused and motivated?

I feel like there’s different kinds of motivation and maybe I’m a little bit of a masochist because the bombing is the best motivation to do better. My spectrum of how I feel I perform is really bad to could’ve been worse, ’cause I feel like I’m still growing. Like, I would never say I crushed or that I killed.

You’re optimistic.

I’m optimistic, but I’m also trying to be realistic. So, it’s always, well, that was pretty bad, or could’ve been worse. And either way, I always wish that I could immediately do another set, but especially if I bombed, it makes a little bit of a fire incentive to go again.

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by Courtney Brown — June 20, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

(Correction: Though the block party is free to attend, the food is not free. We’ve updated this story to reflect that.)

A Detroit-based retailer of high-end goods will hold a party with food and music this weekend.

Shinola is scheduled to host a party “inspired by the classic American summer” in the Whitman-Walker parking lot across from 1631 14th St. NW this Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m., the company said in a press release.

During the event, attendees can munch on snacks from the Dog Tag Bakery and bring their pets along for the festivities, organizers said. The party will also feature free activities and other “seasonal treats.”

Michigan band Greensky Bluegrass is slated to perform during the party along with local group Howard Gospel Choir.

Shinola will also sell tote bags in collaboration with FEED during the event to benefit Forgotten Harvest, a Detroit nonprofit that feeds children and families in need.

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