John Ross moves his Comedy from the Couch showcase from Sac to Chico
Chico, CA 95928
John Ross is a stand-up comic looking toward the future of stand-up comedy. He realizes that in today’s mile-a-millisecond, multimedia world where cell phones perform the same function a roomful of electronic components did 10 years ago, attention-deficient audiences crave the same convenience of convergence in entertainment as they do in technology.
In an effort to provide an alternative to the typical stand-up routine, Ross has been hosting a comedy showcase called Comedy from the Couch in Sacramento for the last three years. He recently relocated to Chico and brought the show with him. Co-hosted by local actor/comic Bill Saporito, Comedy from the Couch is currently running every other Thursday at the Blue Room Theatre.
“It’s really changed format over the years,” explained Ross. “It started out as a show with three comedians sitting on a couch and we’d all talk shit on each other and interrupt each others’ sets. It was just one person doing stand-up and the rest would rag on him while he was onstage. It kind of gave the feel of what we do in the green room or when we’re hanging out, but bringing that to the stage.
“That was pretty hit-and-miss because it ended up being a lot of inside jokes, so I started adding little bits to carry it. It eventually ended up being more of a segment-heavy show, with the stand-up as more of an afterthought. It’s more just having fun with comedians in a non-traditional environment.”
The show has changed so much Ross said he sometimes feels it’s outgrown the couch, with any chat-show similarities sacrificed to the gods of more chaotic comedy. “Anything really fits,” he said. “If I could rename it now, it might be the Knee-Jerk Comedy Hour, because we want it to be so random with non-sequiturs and really have no rhyme or reason for anything we’re doing. We may never even repeat a segment; we just try to recreate the show every time we do it, so much so that from one week to the next we really don’t know what we’re going to do until a few days before the show.
“The only mainstay will be you’ll see a few comics do stand-up, but the rest of it just needs to come out of nowhere.”
For the showcase’s most recent installment, Ross and Saporito hosted musical comedian DJ Real (San Francisco), Nick Aragon (Stockton) and Rachel Burruel (Sacramento). Bits included Q&A Bukakke, in which guests answered a barrage of random questions into microphones sticking from crotches directly into their faces, and another game that had them guess names of Megan’s Law offenders. Saporito did some street magic—that wasn’t really magic—in a prerecorded video called “Mind Flip,” and the comedians each got a brief set. There was stand-up and sketch comedy, improv, filmed bits and plenty of chaos to fill the gaps.
Ross, who has been doing comedy for about seven years, said he knows dozens of comics from the Sacramento and Bay areas whom he would love to bring to Chico, and that he’s pleasantly surprised by the local talent: “There are some really funny people here, and of course I’m kind of new so they’re still coming out of the woodwork.”
The next Comedy from the Couch installment (tonight, July 28) will feature sometime-comic and Blue Room regular Steve Swim. Ross said he plans to include as much local talent as possible, and not just comedians. Other future plans include incorporating musical acts and more local writers and actors—“and they don’t necessarily have to feel forced to be funny,” Ross said. “I’d like to include more serious stuff alongside comedy—just make it totally random.” Interested parties can contact Comedy from the Couch on Facebook.
“I want to make sure people know this is an alternative comedy show, although I hate using that word,” Ross said. “It’s definitely not a standard three-act comedy show like you’d see at a bar. It’s really offbeat, so most of the comics are too, and we try to push those who may be more traditional into different areas. The show is meant to celebrate the offbeat and nontraditional.”