New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are well-known bastions of the American comedy scene, but the city of Atlanta is suddenly surprising people with a legitimate indie stand-up circuit, which is percolating up from the underground like a tough little flowering weed. Atlanta natives like Clayton English, Mia Jackson and a ton of others have dominated the finals of Last Comic Standing the last three years running, while others, like Andy Sandford, who got his start in Atlanta, is now staking solid territory in New York. Following are eight up-and-coming new comics presently kicking ass in Atlanta and not to be missed the next time you pass through:
1 & 2. Samm Severin and Jen Lenny
These two host the popular “U UP?” Comedy Open Mic at Noni’s Bar in Edgewood on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Recently Severin and Lenny based their entire opening set on their own inside jokes. An entire set on inside jokes! That’s some Andy Kaufman kinda brilliant.
3. Jen O’Neill Smith
This comic hosts the Schlitz & Giggles Comedy Showcase every other Thursday at the Highland Ballroom in the quirky Poncey Highlands neighborhood of intown Atlanta. Not only is her own set a slam-dunk (“I like to tell my husband, ‘Honey, there’s no one else in the world I’d rather murder than you.’”), she’s a walking savant of all things Atlanta Comedy, thereby making her the go-to for anyone looking to book talent to open for bigger acts coming through town.
4. John-Michael Bond
A regular at the city’s venerated Laughing Skull Lounge as well as the Atlanta Improv, Bond’s brand of hilarious love-and-fluffiness comedy is ripping holes through the conventional piranha pool of viciousness that is a normal stand-up staple. (“My wife and I do love the old-fashioned way, by not having a baby and keeping liking each other.”)
5. Dedrick Flynn
This Atlanta comic hits the stage with all the energy of someone who just won a Pontiac on the Price is Right. He’s young, raucous, animated, loud, charmingly sweet and awesome. “I think when people ask me, ‘Hey, do you work here?’ it’s because I look like the most unhappy person in the whole establishment.”
6. Lace Larrabee
This comic annihilates the male-promulgated myth that hot girls aren’t funny. Just her bit about the concept of sex-toy parties alone, and their similarity to Tupperware parties, will slay you. (“Excuse me, ma’m, do you have this in black? And more veins would be nice.”)
7. Mo Arora
Arora is the regular host of Schlitz & Giggles Comedy Showcase. Somehow he pulls off being huggable and edgy at the same time. (“Planning my wedding is the most stressful thing I’ve ever, ever, had to watch someone else do. My family is from India, and her family is from East Tennessee, so this big group of people were there making fun of everyone else’s accents.”)
8. Ismeal Loutfi
He looks like a high-school sophomore, but he has the comedic chops of a classic outsider. His bit on college public addresses walks the line of hilarity and mind-expanding. (“My name is Non-Threatening Minority. I’m here to tell you that Michigan State University is both inclusive and safe. Just ask my friends, Black Nerd and Asian Wheelchair Girl.”)
Hollis Gillespie is Paste Travel’s The Ugly American columnist. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, which is on bookstore shelves now. Follow her on Twitter.