How-to’s of comic wizardry on stage again in new series at Tempe Arts Center

One person probably can’t teach another to be funny. On the other hand, if there’s funny somewhere inside a person, that person can probably be taught to use it to best advantage.
This is what Tony Vicich has been doing for more than a decade now. A veteran stand-up comic himself, Vicich has been teaching aspirants to that noble art through, a crash course in making ‘em laugh.
The class was held for many years at the Tempe Improv, now sadly closed, so Vicich has found a new home, not far away: Tempe Center for the Arts. The next free intro class is at TCA, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5.
What makes Vicich’s class—alumni of which have landed on MTV, Comedy Central and Jimmy Kimmel Live—different from others?
“It’s write, rehearse, perform,” says Vicich, a St. Louis native who broke into the L.A. comedy scene in 1985.
“Stand-up is primarily a performance art. That’s what people who want to get into it don’t seem to understand.”
Vicich says a wise mentor once told him that “‘jokes are what you tell while you’re busy being funny’—but you have to have them. Once you know how to write, rehearse and perform, you decide what’s funny, instead of letting a bunch of disinterested strangers decide.
“They may be wrong. They may be drunk.”
In addition to the classes, Vicich is producing a series of comedy shows for TCA, starting with the “Class Clowns Showcase” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, and continuing with different shows at 7:30 every subsequent Friday night in November.
“We do a lot of things here,” says TCA General Manager Don Fassinger.
“One of the niches we’ve been wanting to fill is stand-up comedy. And so we’re excited to be partnering with Tony Vicich and Comedy Schools.”
Vicich favorably compares the class performing on Nov. 4 to his successful previous classes.
“Not only is this crop excellent,” he says, “I think some of them have the same great potential as they do.”
The series continues on Nov. 9 with “Best of the West”—five top comics from the region—and on Nov. 16 with “Ten for Ten”—10 comics, 10 minutes each.
Coming up on Nov. 23 is “Kevin O’Dea’s Comedy Circus,” a mixture of stand-up, music and other odd acts, and on Nov. 30 a show featuring various area improv troupes.
Tickets for all of the above are a budget-friendly 10 bucks. And lest you worry that you’ll see nothing but amateurs and novices, Vicich reassures:
“We have cherry-picked the acts that we know are going to be entertaining; I run my workshops for the comics, but I run my shows for the audience.”
For details call 480-350-4311 or 818-571-JOKE.