A Diverse And Relevant Comedy Show
By Kathryn Merta
Hidden beneath the Corner Bar on West Bank lies an entrance covered in multi-colored posters of previous events that are sure to catch your eye. Welcome to the Comedy Corner Underground.
Upon entering the bar’s basement for a recent event, guests were greeted by Miley Cyrus’ “Party In The USA” and a staircase surrounded on three sides by a wallpaper of even more colorful posters of past comedy shows, creating an ambiance that takes you to a new world within seconds—slightly mysterious, but filled with excited chatter and soft candlelight.
The dark venue was illuminated by a spotlight directed at the tiny corner stage and twinkle lights draped across the ceiling in various patterns. The leopard printed fabric that hung from the back wall screamed out in bright red letters: PSSY CTRL.
PSSY CTRL is a monthly comedy show that showcases the best of new and practiced comedians. The show normally runs for about 90 minutes with about 10 of those minutes dedicated to each performer.
A tip for all UMN students: these shows are free for students who bring their U-Card. So there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying it.
With 20 guests in total, the show started at 8 p.m. on the dot. Rana May and Shelley Paul, the producers and hosts of PSSY CTRL, opened the night with some fun banter to warm the audience up for the performers.
The six comedians set to perform were incredibly diverse and covered topics such as depression, puberty, coming out, sexism, and so much more in a way that was edgy but never insensitive. They graced the stage with impressive professionalism while engaging the entire audience.
At times, the audience members seemed close to literally rolling on the floor. This was especially evident when the fourth performer Amanda Kosner, a self-proclaimed “LGBT redneck,” performed her songs “Lesbian Jesus” and “Are You Still Interested?”
Yes, these songs are on iTunes.
May credits the original idea of PSSY CTRL to a friend and fellow comedian, Jan Syverson, who submitted the idea to The Comedy Corner Underground. Then he, along with May and Paul, worked on it until his life led him away from the Twin Cities. However, he is still a part of the show’s decision making progress and communicates with the show via a facebook group.
According to May, from the first performance in February of 2016, the goal of these monthly shows has been to give a platform to “fresh new comedians and those with years of experience.”
Mary Jo Peel, an older woman, was one such comedian with years of experience. She joked about the recent phenomenon of “tiny homes,” her incredibly hot younger neighbor, and her eye doctor who is just too “Minnesota nice” to actually do his job correctly.
Another performer by the name of Maddie T got some big laughs, leading her to be an audience favorite that night. Mentioning her degree in environmental studies, she joked that she got a “degree in depression.” She also spoke about her pride in being half Mexican which, according to her, gave her a little white privilege while still getting to speak Spanish.
As for how the show got its name, May said that it’s an abbreviated form of the title of Prince’s song “P**** Control,” as the Minnesota songsmith was an early supporter of personal empowerment, which is an important part of the show as they cater to women, non-binary, agender, and trans people.
Plus, is there anything more Minnesotan than Prince?
A Variety of Voices
This show is especially refreshing in a society that has just started to expand its viewpoint to minorities. But more than trying to broaden the minds of their audiences, May believes the main purpose of this monthly show is to have fun and make the audience laugh.
“Laughter is focused, meditative, and helps people feel vulnerable with each other when presented with challenging ideas,” said May. “Our show offers a variety of voices that are not mainstream.”
Caroline Skoog, a junior at the University of Minnesota, and the first of the comedians to perform, enticed the audience with a funny take on her own coming of age story, from her skater girl phase to some really bad dates. Skoog got involved in comedy at a young age when she and her older brothers would watch stand up on television.
After growing up with a love for comedy, she went to a Comedy Club meeting during her first week in school. She’s been in the club ever since and spends some of her time volunteering at the Comedy Club Underground. This was Skoog’s third time performing for PSSY CTRL.
“Their intent is to give a voice to comedians in the community—women, people of color, [and] any marginalized peoples,” she said.
At the same time, there needs to be boundaries surrounding what is OK to make jokes about. Sensitivity is key in a good joke because there is a fine line between funny and offensive.
“Comedy is important right now because we are reorienting what to laugh at,” said Skoog.
Basically, there is a lot more sensitivity these days about what is actually funny and what is just offensive. Luckily, PSSY CTRL has found performers who are more than capable of treading that line.
Fantastically diverse and self-aware, this show is a great way to spend a Thursday night. The show plays every second Thursday of the month starting at 8 PM at the Comedy Corner Underground, and is best enjoyed with a friend or two. The bar also hosts an open mic on Friday nights for those interested in trying out their comedy skills or those that just want to laugh a little at the end of the week.
Believe it or not, comedy isn’t just for Saturday Night Live celebs, it’s all around us here in Minneapolis; all you have to do is Google it.