Is Chico becoming a comedy town?

Aaron, Liz and the brewmaster.

Aaron, Liz and the brewmaster.

Photo By Jason Cassidy

You so funny, Chico! What has gotten into our little college town? We get a bona fide comedy club—The Last Stand—and suddenly it’s nothin’ but funny business goin’ on all over the place. In addition to the Last Stand’s weekly schedule of irreverent stand-up (which will include the one-of-a-kind Neil Hamburger on March 31!), we have a couple of local classics returning to the stage.

Any local worth their salty roasted almonds knows about the Merry Standish comedy duo. Aaron Standish and Liz Merry have been bringing their lampooning stage show to Duffy’s Tavern forever, and the Red Bluff comedians have announced that they are “back from the dead” and have been traipsing about the North State for the past few weekends with their Still Standish comedy extravaganza. They’ll be stopping at the Chico Women’s Club for a big show on Saturday, March 3, at 8 p.m., for which Standish says they’ll be keeping things simple with mostly stand-up and funny songs (also featuring bits and accompaniment by Feather Falls Brewing Co.‘s brewmaster Roland Allen), because “keeping it simple will allow us to perform more … and still leave time for naps.”

Final … daisy?

And, coming March 16-17 to the Last Stand, Chico ex-pat DNA rolls back into town with a crew of fellow Bay Area comedians for four performances by his touring Pawns of Comedy stand-up posse.

All that and we still have the occasional Sketch Valley sketch-comedy shows (next ones: March 30-31) and Bustolini’s comedy nights (March 23—and they are still looking for amateurs to fill out bill!) at the Blue Room Theatre; monthly comedy Fridays at Rolling Hills Casino in Corning (March 2); and weekly comedy nights at Gold Country Casino in Oroville (Wednesdays, 8 p.m.).

Laugh it up, my friends. These are funny days we’re living in.

Everything’s coming up Shawntel This Wednesday, March 8, at Lyon Books, local funeral director and former contestant on the reality-TV show The Bachelor Shawntel Newton will be on hand for a book signing of her recently released Final Rose. The book is a behind-the-scenes look at both her experiences on The Bachelor and life working at her family’s Newton-Bracewell funeral home in Chico.

Empire building Speaking of locals writing words, a new locally produced magazine just published its first issue. Empirical is “a literary and current-affairs magazine” that will be a “forum for discourse on contemporary issues.” Empirical isn’t officially launching until mid-May, but you can go to and purchase a copy of the first issue (or a one-year subscription) of this magazine put out by locals—Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Tara Grover Smith and Managing Editor Olav Bryant Smith.

RIP Paul Over the weekend I received the profoundly sad news that local musician Paul Harper had died on Saturday, Feb. 25. He was 27. The Butte County Coroner’s Office said that results of an autopsy won’t be known for six to eight weeks.

I first was introduced to Harper when he was playing in now-defunct Redding band History Invades. They were all a bunch of kids, but their high-energy hectic/noisy sound was way ahead of its time and would blow much of today’s lauded indie fare out of its hipster pants. But I didn’t properly meet him until a couple years ago, after he’d moved to Chico and started his lush-and-noisy shoegazer crew Soft Crest. He was a very sweet and very talented guy, and it’s going to be rough for his family, friends and those of us in the local music community to come to terms with losing someone so young.