Evolve laughing

Free-thinking comedians bring jokes about religion, politics and science to Sacramento

The Evolution of Comedy Tour, 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 22; $15 plus a two-drink minimum. Punch Line Sacramento, 2100 Arden Way, Suite 225; (916) 925-5500; www.punchlinesac.com.

Punch Line Comedy Club

2100 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95825

(916) 925-5500

Three skeptics walk into a bar, order some beers and actually taste it before taking on faith the content of the glasses.

OK, so Ian Harris of the Evolution of Comedy Tour is right: Rational thought just isn’t that funny.

“I used to ask, ‘How come you never see any conservative comics?’ And I came to see that, other than [former President Bill] Clinton saying he didn’t inhale, there’s nothing to make fun of,” Harris says. “What are you going to do, make fun of education? Seriously? There’s just nothing to make fun of in logic and science.”

That’s why Harris, Jason Resler and Maurice Northup can say that their Evolution of Comedy Tour is a natural selection of funny stuff. After all, when it comes to comedy, it’s survival of the funniest, right?

The trio appears at the Punch Line in Sacramento on Wednesday, August 22.

Of the three, former Sacramentan Resler—this is his first time back in the area since he moved to Los Angeles—tends to focus on politically driven humor, while Harris goes for the jugular—he makes fun of religion. And Northup is, according to Harris, “somewhere in between.”

As for the “evolution” of their comedy, Harris says that they “wanted a name for the tour that wouldn’t turn people off, but would still clue them in to what we’re doing.”

“We are evolving,” he says. “This is comedy about something other than air travel and the usual. We’re making jokes about ideas. It’s intelligently designed comedy.”

“I am the one that brings the left-leaning crazy-whack liberal point of view,” says Resler. “I thought it was just common sense, personally.”

He didn’t start out doing political comedy. Instead, Resler says, as a young father fresh out of the military, he was doing what he now calls “typical jokes.” But he was also in school during the day, and he wanted to stay away from “prepackaged, mass-commercial material.”

“Political’s just the way I went, because that’s the way I think,” he says. “Conservative audience members don’t bristle so much, because I don’t go after the party or the candidates. I apply it to everyday things.”

And, he noted, “It’s not like there’s a shortage of material for me,” rattling off a list of current issues that are rather laughable before he’s even had time to formulate a joke.

From Harris’ perspective, it’s irrational or magical thinking that forms the target.

“We’ve got a country that’s just full of superstition and magical thinking, and I wanted to make fun of that,” says Harris. Among other things—psychics, paranormal and supernatural “investigators” and Bigfoot, etc.—Harris also likes to joke about the apocalypse and is currently working on a show scheduled for December, Live From the Apocalypse, to coincide with the much-anticipated Mayan apocalypse.

“It’s hysterical,” Harris says. “The Mayans don’t believe the world is going to end. My calendar ends on December 31 every year, and I just go get another one.”

Because they’re usually classified as “free-thought” comedians, the natural draw is people who are already somewhere on the skeptical-free-thinking-agnostic spectrum. But, Harris notes, “We also want to bring in other people—people who just like good, intelligent funny humor.”

In fact, there’s a surprising appeal in comedy that’s aimed at people who appreciate logic and reason. Or, as Northup puts it, “Smart crowds exist, they just don’t turn up for the banal.”

Northup says that what he particularly enjoys about this tour—in addition to working with Harris and Resler, of course—is having audiences that appreciate shows that aren’t “influenced by a bevy of suits that ‘know better’ and dumb down my material for the lowest common denominator.”

“I was told that audience doesn’t exist,” he says. Apparently, it does, and that smart audience can expect plenty to laugh about from these three comedians.