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Cleveland Comedy Festival: Marty Malloy

Originally ComedicCLE was designed more to report on comedy, produce content and help promote local venues, comedians and sponsors than to actually produce live shows ourselves. We do produce a few events and shows around town but our main focus is on expanding the reach and exposure of Cleveland comedians.

A little something called COVID really threw a wrench into that mechanism for a while but now that everyone’s had ample chance to re-establish some great live shows and gain some stability… we are going to get back to what we love to do!

And what better way to kick things off than with the 16th annual Cleveland Comedy Festival?!!

Let’s run some numbers… first off, 16 years. That’s how long the CCF has been bringing people together to share laughs.

A few more relative numbers would be the 6 venues included in this year’s event list along with 20 shows in 4 days. Those are some fun numbers unless, of course, you’re one of the festival organizers. The shows are all planned, promoted and expedited by Kyle Haunhorst, Elton Lytle, Logan Rishaw, Steve Guy, C.J. Clem, Amanda Averell, Clem Pantalone, Levester Johnson, Paul Patterson, Jake Harness and Buck Newman. For them fest week is probably just a really fulfilling and sleepless blur.

Fulfilling because their hard work had already shone through by the end of day 1. Things kicked off with a laid back mini-show upstairs at All Saints. This was the perfect beginning to the festival’s festivities as the setting was low lighting and low key with some really good comics having fun with the room. Joe Briggs and Joe Graham were even on hand to drop some fun sets and perpetuate the charade that they live in NYC despite being at every comedy show in Cleveland.

You guys fuck with Mike Strenk? He’s funny so you probably should. Mike brought a casual and unprepared feel in the most professionally funny way. If that makes sense. Mike can be found doing lots of different funny stuff all over Cleveland. Check him out.

Chris Paugh was there. Possibly to make Schrenk look energetic. Chris is the epitome of low bar meets high bar. He gives off an extremely DGAF low energy impression throughout his sets yet he has very intriguing takes on a variety of things. Political views are definitely not off limits for Chris but he seems to insist on including them in a playfully sarcastic way to keep things light. Because his comedic darkness is already quite plentiful. Spotlight Cleveland on Madison Ave is where you can find him every Tuesday. It’s a great little place with extremely supportive and cool ownership. And it’s free!! Tuesday nights.

Then the most impressive number of all took its place. That number is 188. Here’re why… we took the short ride from All Saints over to 78th St. Studios (they conveniently have numbers right in their name!) to see some really funny features. The show was hosted by Bob McLure. Bob set the tone for the night very well. His style seems relaxed and conversational. His material is personally revealing while also fairly matter-of-fact. He did his job well as the crowd immediately settled into listening mode.

Cam Godfrey is another award winning Cleveland performer and she filled us all in on some relationship facts that some people might consider very private. Not Cam. She just swirls them into whimsical, girl nextdoor punchlines. Her boyfriend is also an award winning Cleveland comic (we have so much talent here it really is silly) so it’s fun to sit near him during Cam’s sets to gauge his stoicism while he’s being discussed. I must admit, it’s pretty solid. Gaga has no poker face compared to Tim Wolfe.

Zach Welch is quickly becoming one of our favorites. He took the stage and did as he does… he started off with some cursory jokes to set the scene and then got increasingly funny as he went. Zach is easy to listen to and just has nice person vibes radiating from him which has a tendency to win people over pretty quickly.

Tanner Longs came from Michigan to fest with us. Tanner is black. I feel like he would want me to tell you that right off rip because he has some very funny insights regarding stereotypes and assumptions that his name can invoke. His cautionary tale about opening up for unknown rap groups is basically a public service announcement for other comics. In retrospect, he may have been here to in-person scout our comedy here in Ohio but after hearing his takes on U of M fans, we highly doubt it.

Olivia Wit came all the way from Wisconsin to get some solid laughs. Olivia has deceivingly mischievous comedy. She initially seems familiar and similar to other female comics. That’s a ploy. She quickly and stealthily sneaks her own stamp and style into the equation more and more until it’s an original experience with that same, familiar feel. And that was her intention all along.

Chris Scriva hopped over the PA border to bring us some of his (Pittsburghian?) POVs about tub-drowning and liberal vs conservative politics. He is a fan of both Childish Gambino and Daniel Glover.

Brian Kenny then appeared and did the Brian Kenny thing. And that is to be inherently funny and tell hilarious stories in the most charming and engaging way. It’s just what he does. He added some seasonal tidings with a detailed and eye-opening account of how he thinks the birth of Christ went down and how the soundscape might have been vastly improved.

Brian is funny in a technical and strategic way even though he doesn’t really have to be. He has a style that would be listenable even if he just read the dictionary. Brian is yet another Cleveland Comedy Award winner and he has headlined Hilarities and numerous other clubs. He is a versatile entertainer and the best story teller in the game.

All of these comics would’ve been a great show on their own had there not been a headliner. But we chose to cover this first night of the fest because this show was headlined by a true Cleveland comedy legend: Marty Malloy.

Marty took the stage and set the timer on his watch to let people know shit was about to go down. Then he dropped 188 jokes. 188 short-form/1-liners in about 45 minutes. That’s more than 4 jokes per minute!!

Marty machine-gunned his comedy into the willing and happy ears of the 60-ish people that got to see what hard work and tenacious dedication (tenacious d?) looks like. No cellphone as a crutch. No written set list. No net. Just Marty with a water bottle and a bag of swag to sell intermittently throughout his set. 188 jokes from memory. Give that a try sometime. I’ll skip it because I know for a fact I couldn’t memorize 188 short jokes, let alone deliver them non-stop, pausing only to sip water and sling merch. Few people can.

Marty is one-of-a-kind and he is everything comedy should be. He truly loves it and he has persevered at making people laugh through a lot of his own internal adversity. And yet, there he is. It may be 2 hours early for a large show or slamming Pepsi at a weeknight open mic to which he also likely arrived very early. But he’ll be there. He may wear a straight jacket and ask for help sipping his Pepsi through a straw. But he’ll be there. Marty is one of the hardest working and most dependable comedians in a town that is absolutely bursting with comedy talent.

Marty has won the Cleveland Comedy Open. There were some excellent and very solid comedians in that competition but Marty has a certain way of standing out. He knows this and he embraces it. We have seen him countless times and he has never disappointed.

Marty has also won multiple Cleveland Comedy Awards and was recently named Best Comedian in Cleveland by Cleveland Scene. His delivery is his trademark. No frills. Just some shimmy and lots of jokes for your face to make it laugh. That’s what he brings. Every single time.

I honestly had some concerns that Marty would struggle to fill 45 minutes. That’s a lot of jokes for his style. 188 jokes to be exact. But the Cleveland Comedy Festival took a chance and their insight paid off big time. The show was great, the room was packed and Marty absolutely killed.

188 jokes. Marty Malloy. Cleveland comedy legend in the flesh.

There were tons of great comedians and a nice array of venues. Brad Wenzel, John Armstrong, Chris Harvey, Chevy Terrill, Morgan Gallo and Bill Squire all also headlined different shows. The list of all the performers is too huge to list but every person that participated played a part in making this year's fest great.

You can catch Marty performing on Bill Squire’s live taping at The Agora on December 22. That show is absolutely going to be a great time and the lineup is as solid as you’ll find anywhere. Tickets are on sale now. Get yours before they sell out.

A huge thanks to the Cleveland Comedy Festival team for putting on a great series of shows and helping to promote Cleveland’s talented comedy community. Congratulations on a job well done!!!


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