Jun 21, 2019

Undiscovered talent from Comedy Central’s “Up Next” Clusterfest showcase share jokes and inspiration from their upcoming sets.

In anticipation of Comedy Central’s Clusterfest this weekend, Viacom asked a few of the comedians appearing in the “Up Next” showcase to give us a preview of their set with a joke and the story behind it. Turns out, sometimes it is funny if you explain a joke.

Read more about how Comedy Central is taking a chance on undiscovered talent with "Up Next."

Nate Varrone

Comedian Nate Varrone. Illustration by Hannah Kunkle.

"I’ll leave you all with a quote: “$20,000," which is the monthly rate I was quoted when I told General Auto Insurance that I direct softcore pornography using the back-up cam of my Dodge Caravan.”

The first time I was in a car with a back-up cam I thought, 'It would be hilarious if someone tried to shoot a feature film using this thing.' Then I changed it to softcore pornography because you should always incorporate softcore porn into a joke whenever possible.

Julia Shiplett

Comedian Julia Shiplett. Photo by Jenni Walkowiak. Illustration by Hannah Kunkle.

“I'm half-white, half-Chinese. My mom is the Chinese one, of course — we know the drill. My whole life people have told me I have a racially ambiguous look so you would think they'd be careful about what they say about other ethnicities around me, but I've overheard a lot of casual racism. Sometimes it's even direct to me. Like I recently told someone I was auditioning for the role of a Chinese woman on a show, and they told me, "You don't look Asian enough. Maybe you should wear more eyeliner so your eyes look more slanty." And I was like, "Wow, okay thanks Mom."

This joke was inspired by my mom actually saying this to me. If a non-Asian person said this, it would be super offensive and messed up. But it made me laugh because my mom is always super blunt and I know she genuinely thought this was a helpful tip. I love how it surprises people when I reveal her because the truth is no one is more brutal than an Asian mom.

Tim Platt

Comedian Tim Platt. Photo by Sam Burris. Illustration by Hannah Kunkle.

"If you ask me, all teeth are baby teeth. If you don't ask me, that's cool. I'm used to keeping that thought to myself."

I like stand-up because it's a platform where I can mix a lot of different performance interests into one space. My sets tends to be a mix of character work, voices, and songs with each piece having an (often) elaborate beginning, middle, and end. This joke is one of a few short, absurd-ish one liners that I like to throw out in between more performative stuff to mix up the energy/keep the audience on their toes. I also like this one because it makes the audience think it's about baby teeth when, in fact, it's about me (Timbeaux) and my secrets.

Luke Mones

Comedian Luke Mones. Illustration by Hannah Kunkle.

“Have you ever been alone in an Uber pool and they don’t pick anyone else up the whole ride, then you get home and you’re like ‘this is as good as my life is gonna get’?”

I wrote this after riding alone in an Uber pool, which is basically the bus with mints, and realizing I had lucked my way into a regular Uber. I was so grateful.

I think if you keep your standards low, you can be grateful all the time.

Five stars.

Tim Miller

Comedian Tim Miller. Illustration by Hannah Kunkle.

“My Black friends want me to move to Canada with them because of White people. I'm like, "you're worried about White people and you're moving to an even whiter country."

Canada doesn't want American Black people there. I've never seen a commercial for Canada on B.E.T. "Hey Jamal, you like chicken & waffles, well we have maple syrup."

The inspiration for the joke is a lot of my friends talking about moving to Canada and my thoughts when I heard it. It's more a joke about the lengths people will go to prove how woke they are.

Mary Beth Barone

Comedian Mary Beth Barone. Photo by Corbin Chase. Illustration by Hannah Kunkle.

“I was raised Catholic. We were super religious growing up -- we went to church every Sunday. But the older I got I just realized that all that stuff's made up... which is why I'm really into astrology right now. Show me Jesus Christ's birth chart. Then I'll tell you if he's worth worshipping.”

My family was fully Catholic and I was a very religious person in my youth. I would PRAY alone in my room, which sounds insane to say. During my two years in college, I pretty much gave up on organized religion. Astrology has really blown up in the last few years with the help of social media and internet culture. I always deeply identified as a gemini and I've leaned into that in my twenties. I understand that going from Catholicism to astrology seems like a lateral move in several ways so I wrote this joke to make light of that. While many young people have decided that religion is "canceled", we've been quick to latch onto astrology. I think it's because the memes are better.

Demi Adejuyigbe

Comedian Demi Adejuyigbe. Illustration by Hannah Kunkle.

Demi is part of the variety "Up Next" showcase.

My set is a satirical presentation on jazz, based on our own impressions of what it is and what kind of people it attracts. I talk about people's impression of jazz, how it's influenced everything we like, and how an audience member can concoct their own jazz songs, and then I end my set by performing a jazz song I've written just for the occasion.

I first had the idea when I did a show in LA called Drunk Education, where we were made to give presentations based on anything we wanted, and the central theme was "La La Land." So I went a little A to C and decided to give a presentation on jazz.

I really enjoyed doing it, but wanted to tinker with it a bit more, so I did the bit a few more times, making big changes every time I did it, and I think I've finally gotten it to a place where I really like it.


Max Wittert

Comedian Max Wittert. Photo by Dan Allegretto. Illustration by Hannah Kunkle.

Max is part of the variety "Up Next" showcase.

“Sometimes I feel like I have an angel on one shoulder, and a brunette on the other.”

This joke is part of a series of one-liners about tone-deaf pseudo-glamor of being blond, which I perform with a club track and illustrations projected behind me. It’s a lot of production for, well, a stand-up. I’m from LA where blondness, as a state of being, is tied into so much artifice and allure, so I sort of generated a character who sees the world through peroxide-tinted lenses. And of course I have visuals to go with it, because this is show business, and you gotta give ’em the ol’ razzle dazzle.


Photograph illustrations by Hannah Kunkle.

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