This weekend a very special, very weird event will take place at the DoubleTree in Bloomington, Minnesota: Die Laughing 2: Laugh Harder, a 50 hour comedy marathon fundraiser for Fearless Comedy Productions.
The Hubby and I attended last year’s Die Laughing fundraiser and had a pretty darn good time. The highlight was getting a noseharp from MST3K’s Kevin Murphy, and hearing him play noseharp, play ukelele and sing a lyrical version of the Game of Thrones intro song. But then there were all of the local comedians, the improv, the sweet silent auctions, the sleep deprivation. It was a heck of a weekend.
And this weekend they’re coming coming back for more. This Friday at 7pm the intrepid members of Fearless Comedy and their guests will kick off the 3000-minute event. This year I’m volunteering at the box office; I’m excited to support a group that has provided me with many laughs and entertainment over the past year.
I reached out to Tim Wick, a local, actor, writer, director and musician who is involved with the Die Laughing Marathon and Fearless Comedy Productions. He graciously agreed to be interviewed for this post. Enjoy!
B: What is your role in Fearless Comedy?
TW: I’m the artistic director. What that means is I make the creative decisions for the shows we will produce. I hire writers and directors as well as make artistic contributions where I can.
I don’t make the decisions alone. We have a company of over 25 members who are encouraged to come up with their own ideas.
B: Why should people support Fearless Comedy?
TW: I think we are a great voice for comedy in the Twin Cities. Last fall, we produced our first original show, “The Secret of Gravethwait Manor” and we are going to produce two more original shows this year.
In May and June, we will be debuting “Jenny Bandage vs. The Unpronounceable A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.” I’m writing the show and it is about a scientist who is also a secret agent. She is defending the world from bad research and junk science. You want jokes about homeopathy and anti-vaxxers? I’ve got you covered!
This fall, Duck Washington will present his original show “Caucasian-Aggressive Pandas and Other Mulatto Tales.” It is a comedic look at the experience of being mixed race in America.
As a company, we are committed to paying people for the work they produce. Our actors, directors and writers are all compensated for their time. I think that is really important because helping artists make some sort of living on their art is important to me.
I hope people support us because we’ve made them laugh. I’ve always said that I think comedy is the best way to deal with all of the tragedy that surrounds us. We can either laugh at it or be buried by it. I prefer to laugh.
If you are reading this and we have not made you laugh, please drop us a line and we will send you jokes until one of them makes you laugh. We will make people laugh one at a time if required.
B: Where does the money that Die Laughing raises go?
TW: Several places.
First, it will help produce our original shows. As I said, we pay our artists. We also need to raise money to rent our venues, build scenery, and produce marketing materials.
In addition to the shows I discussed above, our 2015-2016 production schedule includes a remount of two very successful shows I wrote – “Highlander: The Musical” and “Top Gun: The Musical.” Then in the summer of 2016, we are looking to produce an adaptation of the film “Clue” that will be set in a Victorian mansion.
As you can probably guess, the cost of producing a show in a non traditional venue is likely to be rather steep. But I love the idea and can’t wait to see it produced.
Second, it will help cover operating costs. An example I like to use is our original radio show – Big Fun Radio Funtime. The writers are paid from show revenues but we have to produce scripts for all performers to be used during the live performance. Toner and paper for ten 60 page scripts comes to about $50 per show.
Currently the producer eats that cost. We’d like to see that arrangement change.
Third, we are looking to sponsor original works. For the last two years, we have offered a sponsorship at the Minnesota Fringe Festival where Fearless agrees to pay the producer fee for original comedy works.
We are also looking to add some internal sponsorships for Fearless company members so we can provide them with a $500 grant to produce their own original work.
Fourth, Die Laughing is not free to produce. The cost for the venue and tech has to be covered.
Fifth, we run a big room party at CONvergence along with producing several comedy shows over the course of the weekend.
Finally, we want to earn enough money to afford our own space. There is a lot of comedy in the Twin Cities and we want to create a multi-purpose performance venue that gives comedy of all stripes a place where they can produce their work with low overhead. That goal is 3-5 years off but anything extra we make is going into the fund to help covert the right space into the Fearless Comedy stage.
B: What will you be doing this year for Die Laughing?
TW: The event has stand up comedy, improvised comedy, musical comedy, variety acts and a more kinds of comedy that don’t have easy definitions. We’ve got 50 hours to fill!
I’m personally going to be judging Vilification Tennis, performing with my band The Dregs, recording two episodes of the Geeks Without God podcast, running an Epic Lip Sync battle, storytelling, hosting, playing sleep deprived party games, and a whole lot more.
I’ll have my full schedule posted on my blog at petsnakereggie.com on Thursday. You can see the entire schedule for the weekend at dielaughingmarathon.com.
B: I see that there will be special fundraising challenges again this year. What challenges are you involved in?
TW: Well, Geeks Without God has an epic challenge for this year. If we can raise $1000 between now and the end of our 9:00 PM podcast, the three of us are going to a Scientology Center to be audited. We will then record a podcast about the experience.
Last year, we raised $666 and were forced to attend a service at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. That was not fun.
During the Epic Lip Sync Battle, most of our performers have agreed to a $20 challenge. Each of them has selected a song they want to perform and a song they don’t want to perform. For $20, the audience can force them to perform the song they hate.
If people would like, they can donate $10 to have me record a voice mail message on their phone or they can donate $30 to have me woken up during the 3-5 hours of rest I have scheduled over the course of the weekend.
We also have a chocolate challenge that will be open to anyone. You can donate $10 to have a member of Fearless eat something covered in chocolate. I’ve been assured that almost all of the options are gross.
B: Will you wear a funny hat for some portion of your stage time? For me?
TW: For you, Brianne? Anything!
B: What’s the first word you think of that starts with “Y”?
B: Are you celebrating Pi Day?
TW: My parents were both math teachers. So of course I’ll be celebrating Pi day. My band plays at the BLB that night and we are going to be performing a song I wrote called “Square Root of Two.”
Also, and this is extremely important, I will be eating pie.
B: If people can’t make the entire weekend, what are your recommended “don’t miss” acts?
TW: So many! Here are the ones I’m super excited for:
Stand-up comedians Elizabeth Ess, Jakey Emmert, Patrick Ryan Bauer. PowerPoint Karaoke, Fearless Story Hour, Noon News, two live Geeks Without God podcasts (featuring Levi Weinhagen and ZM Thomas), phillip andrew bennett low, EPIC LIP SYNC BATTLE, The Insufferable Spiteness of Beaver, Fearless Game Night, Big Fun Radio Funtime, The Dregs, Joke-Me-Off, Vilification Tennis.
I’m going to say I wish I could have mentioned everyone who is performing and my apologies to all the people I didn’t specifically mention.
[Biodork note: Tim went into great, great detail – 517 words of detail – about each of these performers and performances. He’s really excited. I cut all of that down to the above 88 words. You can read about the awesome that is each of these events, including times and dates, on the Die Laughing website schedule page.]
B: Anything else we should know?
TW: Is anyone still reading? If so, yes!
One – the entire event will be streaming online at dielaughingmarathon.com. If you can’t make it in person, watch online.
Also, we have a donate button at the top of the page and a $500 matching grant going on until the event starts at 7:00 PM on Friday. If people can’t attend but they think this is a cool thing to support, they can donate right now and have their contribution doubled!
If you want to help send some atheists to a Scientology center, just make sure you note in the comments that you want your contribution to count to the Geeks Without God Challenge.
Thanks, Tim! And I hope that you’re catching up on your sleep now because you have a looooong weekend ahead of you, my friend.