Comedy comes in all different packages, and it doesn’t necessarily fit in traditional comedy spaces. So says the Spit Take Comedy Series, which has since 2018 brought some of the best talents from all over the country—including Sarah Sherman (AKA Sarah Squirm), Johnny Pemberton and Ikechukwu Ufomadu—to perform outside of comedy clubs in Minnesota.
This weekend, Spit Take will be several local standouts taking their moment in the spotlight, with the culmination of the Spit Take Artist Residency. Since last spring, Devohn Bland, Monica Coleslaw, Christina Catherine Martinez and SuperGroup have been developing creative, funny and original pieces, with the financial backing of the Spit Take Comedy Series.
“The residency came together during the pandemic because we wanted a way to support artists who may not be able to do shows, while still keeping our audience engaged,” says Jeff Niblack, co-founder of Spit Take.
Alongside his wife, Niblack set out to find four artists with unique perspectives and creative ideas, and award them with $2,500 grants.
“We had probably 30 or 40 applicants,” Niblack says. “We chose these artists because they had these really creative ideas, and you could tell they had been waiting for the right time to bring them to life.”
“I applied on a whim and accidentally won,” says Monica Coleslaw. Coleslaw, who will present her show Juniper on Saturday night at 9:30 PM at Bryant Lake Bowl, is an accomplished musician who spent the majority of the past six years playing in the band, Hollow Boys. Her show this weekend will be primarily focused on storytelling, with an emphasis on some seriously personal topics.
“My show is partially about growing up mixed race in the Midwest and not really having a handle on who I am, really,” she explains. “So I kind of fell into adopting different hobbies and personalities to find something that worked for me. And the thing that did it for me, unfortunately, was alcoholism.”
While the focus is pretty heavy, Coleslaw feels that the show can still be funny, albeit in a non-traditional sense.
“I feel like you can’t tell a funny story if you haven’t been traumatized by something,” she laughs. “I hope that people who see the show realize that there are different aspects to comedy and they don’t always have to be ‘set-up, set-up, punchline.”
Also taking place on Saturday night, Devohn Bland, who has become a favorite of the Twin Cities comedy scene as a standup, musician and host of the weekly Uproar open mic, will present his show: Devohn Bland and His Keyboard.
“I wanted to keep it simple, but I wanted to give a little bit of myself too,” he explains of the show. “It’s kind of a typical hour-long special, but it’s also me doing my songs. I want to give it a heart.”
Though Bland has earned local notoriety over the past couple years with his incredibly catchy musical takedowns of prominent members of our local government, he says that the show this weekend is far more than just another gig where he talks about current events.
“This October I will have been doing stand-up for five years,” he says. “It’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned, and all my other creative pursuits.”
Jokes, music, storytelling and even some photos and videos will be a part of Bland’s performance, proving that there are no boundaries when it comes to comedy. In fact, Bland says he only set one rule for himself while developing the project.
“I can do whatever I want, but I have to make people laugh,” he says.
While both Coleslaw and Bland say they hope to continue performing their respective shows beyond this weekend, Niblack says he hopes this will be the creative spark that encourages even more performers to stretch their comedy muscles and take new chances.
“There are a lot of great ideas out there that we hope to support,” he explains. “I hope that that this weekend will inspire more creative ideas among artists, and maybe we’ll be able to do another residency in the future. Time will tell.”