Stephanie Hasz and Andy Fleming, two standup comics based in Chicago, are celebrating the anniversary of their friendship with a weeklong comedy festival called #lollaPALooza.
Yesterday I received a package in the mail, apparently from Hasz and Fleming, that contained a microcassette with the following note attached:
Dear Matt: In spite of your blunder of not asking us for an interview about our upcoming #lollaPALooza Comedy Festival, we have decided to grant you this tape. We’re sure you can make something of it. Maybe a series?
Kisses, Stephanie Hasz & Andy Fleming
STEPHANIE HASZ: What is this one for again?
ANDY FLEMING: For that comedy blog. Steampunker or something.
HASZ: Ugh. A blog?
FLEMING: Every little bit helps. Don’t worry, I’ll cut this part out.
HASZ: Good call.
FLEMING: Okay, this is Andy Fleming and Stephanie Hasz, and this is our press tape for the upcoming #lollaPALooza Comedy Festival. Steph, why don’t you explain what #lollaPALooza is?
HASZ: I mean, everyone knows this already, but #lollaPALooza is the second annual comedy festival celebrating the anniversary of our friendship.
FLEMING: Right; we’re performing together at a bunch of Chicago’s best shows, July 31 through August 11.
HASZ: I’m sure the guy who runs Steamballer can throw up a link to the full event listing.
HASZ: What do you think makes our festival so important to the city?
FLEMING: I think the answer’s obvious: it’s because WE’RE so important to the cit—
HASZ: BECAUSE WE’RE SO IMPORTANT TO THE CITY! I was just gonna say that!
FLEMING: Yeah! People have been saying for awhile that the entertainment industry is coming to Chicago, and I think when we do something so innovative, so us-centric—
FLEMING: —like this festival, it’s clear that industry has arrived.
HASZ: I think we fill a hole in this city. Before us, people had just been waiting for comedy to return to Chicago. And now—FINALLY—comedy has returned to the second city.
FLEMING: I think we give Chicago hope.
HASZ: But, just to clarify, not Chicago Hope, starring Mandy Patinkin as the neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Geiger.
FLEMING: Thank you, no. Just good old-fashioned hope. And, ya know, we do it for the kids.
HASZ: Oh, we should explain to the reader that we’re not using “kids” in that dismissive way that your dorky friend might when he wants to feel cool. It’s just a term we comedians use to describe other comedians who aren’t as good as us yet.
FLEMING: And the kids in this city are trying—they really are!
HASZ: And we see them trying! And so we reward them with something like #lollaPALooza. Those guys at Stand Up Stand Up, for example—lots of potential. They really could have something with that show one day.
FLEMING: We recognize that, so we say, “Hey,” ya know, “We’ll throw you guys a bone and let you be in #lollaPALooza this year.”
HASZ: And they love it!
FLEMING: They love it!
HASZ: Not only do we lend ‘em some good old-fashioned heat, drive some butts into their seats with our buzz, but they get to hob-knob with us.
FLEMING: Let’s be real: a lot of these kids owe their careers to us. We gave shots to the Katie McVays, the Nick Rouleys, the Goodrich Gevaarts of this scene at our shows—frankly, way before they were ready.
HASZ: We put them in front of so many of our industry contacts—the bartenders at Cole’s, the server at the Owl—they’re all seeing these kids because of us!
FLEMING: You can't buy that kind of exposure!
HASZ: And to these kids’ credit, they recognize that you and I are valuable resources for them. They go out there, they get their noses bloodied, then they come back to us and say, “Okay, tell me what I did wrong.”
FLEMING: Yup. They say things like, “YOU’RE comedy veterans, YOU’RE pillars of this scene, YOU’RE hardened road-dogs—how do I get chops like yours?” This city needs us, and that’s why this city needs this comedy festival.
HASZ: Also, if I may, Andy—this festival gives Chicago LOVE.
FLEMING: YES. A shining example of friendship.
HASZ: Aww, I’m so glad we’re friends!
FLEMING: Me too! Ya know, I think we show the kids how important it is to be making friends in comedy.
HASZ: We tell them, “You can go out and do all the open mics and focus on your writing, but all of that won’t do you a lick of good if you’re NOT. HANGING. OUT.”
FLEMING: I mean, look at Ever Mainard. Great comic.
HASZ: One of the best.
FLEMING: But I’ll never book her on any of my shows. You know why?
HASZ: She never comes to your birthday party?
FLEMING: She never. Comes. To my birthday party.
HASZ: How are we supposed to believe she’s serious about this industry if she’s not putting in the time hanging out?
FLEMING: If you’re not hanging out, you’re missing out. If we don’t see you at our barbecues, you’re not gonna be doing any of our shows in Logan Square, which means you’re missing out on both the opportunity and, of course, the money that lies therein.
HASZ: Yup, and it’s like Katt says—sorry, for the reader, that’s Katt Williams—“Get that paper, boo boo.”
FLEMING: [sighs] Ya know, to be honest...sometimes it feels like everyone just wants a piece of us.
HASZ: What’re you gonna do?
FLEMING: Give it to them.
HASZ: Give it to them.
[A fist-pound is heard.]
HASZ: Wanna watch some Whitney?
FLEMING: You KNOW I wanna watch some Whitney.