Todd Barry * Hannibal Buress * Pete Holmes * Brent Weinbach * Kyle Kinane * Moshe Kasher * Baron Vaughn * Rob Delaney * Kumail Nanjiani * Eric Andre * Anthony Bedard * W Kamau Bell * Ali Wong * Jonah Ray * Matt Braunger * Hari Kondabolu * Rory Scoval * Scott Capurro * Brendon Walsh * Beth Lisick * Sheng Wang * Louis Katz * Laurie Kilmartin * Marga Gomez * Bobcat Goldthwait * Rob Cantrell * Ryan Singer * Jarrod Harris * Beth Stelling * Aparna Nancherla * Tara Jepsen * Heather Thompson * Robert Selander * Tarter Control * Jason Wheeler * Kurt Braunohler * Julian Vance * Amy Dresner * Janine Brito * Ashok Kondabolu * Emily Maya Mills * Matt Knudsen * Christina Lowery * Jabari Davis * Joe Tobin * Issac Witty * Shawn Pearlman * Dave Ross * Jake Weisman * Brendan Lynch * Matt Morales * Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits * Mike Spiegelman * Andy Haynes * Mike Recine * Erin Lennox * Marc Maron * Colleen Watson * Rachel Swan * Hiya Swanhuyser * Greg Edwards * Mary Van Note * Joe Klocek * Edwin Li * Reggie Steele * Kevin Camia * Matt Ruby * Grant Lyon * Clare O'Kane * Jules Posner * George Chen * Travis Irvine * Andy Wood * Zach Coulter * Marcella Arguello * Abbey Jordan * Miles K * Kevin O'Shea * Emily Heller * Kasseem Bentley * Rusty Mahakian * Stefan Stignei * Butt Problems * Andy McFood * Anna Seregina * Sammy Wegent * Tony Dushane * Derek Sheen * Bob Kohsravi * Mike Lebovitz * Jack Boulware * Myq Kaplan * Mischeivous Maidens * Lester Milton * Dan Goodman * Just Morgan * Jesse Fernandez * Casey Ley * Julien Rodriguez * Corey Loykasek * Irene McGee * Ron Funches * Whitney Streed * Karl Hess * Kevin Hancock * Jodi Miller * Stacey Scowley * Jeff Seal * Paul Marino * Josh Androsky * Ali Leibegott * Ivan Hernandez * Emily Lake * Andy Erikson * Max Fox * Dave Thomason * Will Hatcher * Reid Faylor * MariNaomi * Cassie J. Sneider * Ryan Clauson * Emmet Montgomery * Jono Zalay * Shawn Robbins * Chris Remmers * Paco Romane * Knuckles and Tits * Byron Bowers * Jesse Elias * Rajeev Dhar * Daryus Monday * Phoebe Robinson * Erin Judge * Kurt Weitzmann * Dave Ross * Joe Starr * Jeff Cleary * Sylvan Improv * Matt Gubser * OJ Patterson * The Awesome

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Every Day You Don't Do This Is a Day You're Not Getting Better at It

I turned 45 on the 13th of June. In comedy years, I'm headliner age. I recently was passed from being a showcase comic to being an opener at our local club. But I've only been pursuing comedy since I was 37. The problem is, most people in the industry will look at me and do the comedy math and think that I've been doing comedy around 25 years, in which case, I should be much more accomplished than I am.

In 1996, I saw Blaine Capatch and Patton Oswalt open for Rick Overton at the old Cobb's. I was 26. I thought, wow, I would love to be a standup. Too bad I'm too old to start something now. You see, I had tried standup once.

The week I turned 21, I went to the Holy City Zoo on Clement Street and signed up on their open mike list. I went on next to last. I didn't do well. I never went back. I had a whole other life in the poetry world. I was good at it. In the poetry scene, I could meet women, there were drugs, and I had success. The Zoo was all guys and if anyone had drugs they weren't sharing. Fuck it.

At 32, I got sober. There's a step where you have to take full inventory of your life. Most of these are resentments and fears. Through this process I also made a list of everything I quit because of addiction or fear. Comedy was on that list. I had a nagging "what if" in my heart. But school was also on that list. I spent years clearing my finances, getting back into school, and graduating. After that, I was in a "what's next" phase.

Three things happened:
  • I saw Matt Besser's "Woo Pig Sooie" one man show.
  • I saw Patton Oswalt four times in three days, including two shows from backstage at Cobb's.
  • Christopher Titus' "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding" aired on Showtime.

All three shows were great for different reasons. Three different approaches to comedy. But they all had the same impact: this is something I should be doing. But hell, getting where I wanted to be would take me ten years or something, right?

I was 37. I thought back to that Cobb's show. Had I started then I would have had 11 years in comedy. I may have been headlining clubs, who knows? That's when I had to say "fuck it" again. Fuck it, I'll start now. Today.

In a few months, I'll emcee a show at the Punchline for the first time. It took me longer than I thought it would. The rest of my journey probably won't go as I think it will, either. But it will happen, and I'll experience it at every moment.

Blaine Capatch told me when I started comedy, "every day you don't do this, is a day you're not getting better at it." It's true. Every day you're not moving toward your goals and dreams, every day you don't start your wish machine, is a day you're going to be a What If instead of an I Am. I can't live with What If. I can live with I Am a Failure, if that's the worst case scenario. If you're the same way, start now. Whatever it is.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Is Long Form Comedy?

One of the attendees asked me last night why the comedy at The Business is different from other places. It's a question with a lot of answers. A lot of it depends on what you think comedy is before you come to the show. The short answer: it's long form comedy.

Long form comedy doesn't have a strict definition. If you Google it, you will find articles about long form improv. I don't have the time or patience to explain that as well. The term is so new that it doesn't show up in Internet searches. But if you say it to a comic, he or she will likely have a good idea of what you are talking about.

Long form comedy revolves around a concept, idea, or story, and the comic explores it onstage in front of people, unfolding it and twisting around, wringing the laughs out of it. Short form comedy is centered around a setup and a punchline. Long form often doesn't have one payoff punchline, but rather the laughs that happen along the way.

It's not a new idea. My favorite example is Bill Cosby's "To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With" from the album of the same name. It's one cut. It's 26 minutes, the ENTIRE SECOND SIDE of the record. It was recorded in 1968. Long form wasn't called that at the time, it was just called comedy. But as the storytelling has gone out of vogue in standup, the label does serve a purpose.

There are also plenty of headliners currently doing it. Patton Oswalt, Dana Gould, and Janeane Garofalo all have long bits that I would consider long form comedy. But none of these would consider themselves long form comics...just comics. They wouldn't consider themselves "alternative comedians" either, even though they were big in the alternative comedy scene. Does that make sense?

So what happened? If long form was around, where did it go? Why did it fall out of favor with comics? I think we'd have to go back to the eighties, right before the comedy boom happened. The comedy boom is also something comics talk about I don't want to get sidetracked with here.

There were a lot of years in which comics tried to hone a tight five to seven minutes that would work on television. Talk shows were the way to stardom. Then came the standup show glut of the eighties and nineties. With a few of these credits, you were a headliner, doing forty-five minutes on the strength of five minutes on a show.

There were a bunch of people who did comedy for the sake of getting into acting. They only needed as much standup as it took to get cast as the weird neighbor on a sitcom. From Freddie Prinze getting a hit sitcom deal off one appearance on The Tonight Show to Drew Carey getting his deal, there was also the possibility of not only being cast, but becoming the star of the next big show. The problem with this was there were a lot of people who didn't want to be comics, just wanted to be on television.

There's no room for this in long form comedy. If you don't like being on stage and making people laugh, you can't pull it off. If you don't genuinely like telling stories to strangers, there's nothing in it for you.

The problem is there are few places to do it. Once you're a feature act or headliner at a club, sure, you'll have time to work out long bits. But before then? Open mikes won't cut it. The crowds aren't ready for it, and you don't really have the time to do it.

Thus, the Business happened. Even comics who don't normally work this way jump at this chance to try it out. In our first year, I remember Reggie Steele telling a long story about his childhood that I've never heard since. It's been exciting for me as a comic to watch other comics take chances and go weird places with material. Hopefully, it's exciting for the audience as well.

--Bucky Sinister

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hello World!

This is my first blog for The Business.

I'm one of the founding members. It started with four of us way back when.

I was two years into standup and getting nowhere. I couldn't get stagetime on a regular basis. Any comic of any genre or era will tell you stagetime is the key to developing your act, material, and voice.

I kept looking at how people got their first regular timeslots and it wasn't relevant anymore. There aren't as many clubs as there used to be, and there are more comics. Comics in the '80s were able to get feature gigs for giving rides to headliners. They were able to get onstage in timeslots that don't exist in clubs anymore. Neither of the clubs in San Francisco had an open mike night. So what to do?

Luckily, I found the help of three other comics: Alex Koll, Chris Garcia, and Sean Keane. I was good at running shows and they knew much more about comedy than I did. They helped me learn not only about the craft, but about the politics of the scene as well, which is vital. Together, we rented out The Dark Room and started the first of hundreds of shows.

As people's careers and lives changed, so did our lineup. Nato Green, Anna Saragina, Caitlin Gill, Mike Drucker, and Chris Thayer all joined the crew. Nato still remains, and now, we have three new ones: Natasha Muse, David Gborie, and Jules Posner.

There are also Business shows in three cities: New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Alex, Caitlin, Sean, Anna, and Chris Garcia are all still part of the action. New York also includes Kara Klenk, Jared Logan, and Michelle Wolf.

It's become much bigger than the initial four of us. It's evolved on its own in weird ways. The reputation of the group as a whole has grown organically. It's been a fun ride so far. I'm excited to see what happens in the future.

--Bucky Sinister

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Business January 29th 2014: The Festival? MORE LIKE THE BESTIVAL. SF Sketchfest Edition

The best fest is SF Sketchfest, and it’s here once more! The Business is once again a part of the festivities, and we have a couple of stellar guests for you.


Guy Branum was born and raised in Yuba City, California. He attended the University of California, Berkeley from 1994-1998 where he was a history and political science major. He wrote a column for the Daily Californian, one of which brought the United States Secret Service to his apartment in November 1997 before the Big Game between Berkeley and Stanford University, in which he made suggestions that Berkeley students murder Stanford Freshman Chelsea Clinton.[2][3][4] He was also involved in campus politics on the Cal United Masturbaters party[citation needed]. He played quizbowl for the Berkeley Quizbowl Team.[citation needed]

He then moved to Minnesota, where he attended the University of Minnesota Law School, and was on the U of M Quiz Bowl team that placed third at CBI nationals in 1999.[citation needed] After graduating he returned to California.[citation needed]

After being recommended by co-hostess Laura Swisher, Branum was hired as a writer for Unscrewed with Martin Sargent while it was still on TechTV in San Francisco.[citation needed] On Unscrewed, he regularly appeared as a sweater model and as The Ambassador of Gay. He was also a writer and producer on,[citation needed] and head writer on the G4 channel program X-Play. He also contributed to the comedy podcast Weezy and the Swish. In December 2007, Branum became a writer and an onscreen comedy performer on Chelsea Lately. He made his feature film debut in January 2011 in No Strings Attached. In 2012 Branum became a writer for the show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, performing a recurring segment "No more Mr. Nice Gay."[5]

He is also openly gay.[6]


Plus!!! Megan Beth Koester, who is stunningly witty. She is the best kind of bright and the best kind of dark. She is not just a stand-up treasure, she is also a good writer who is good at writing stuff. See for yourself on

And of course, your regulars: “Bonnaroo” Sinister, “NATO Summit” Green, “Annapalooza” Seregina, Hardly Strictly Caitlin Gill and “SXSW” Kean.

$10. And get those tix like right now cause this well SELLLL OOOOUUTTTTT.

BYOBurrito and make it a super YOU DESERVE IT.

The Business January 22nd 2014: The Dolly’s Partons Edition

The Business will always love you, which is why we hope you’ll be there with bells on this week while we welcome some of our favorite guests, just when you needed them most.

She’s back for a minute from Portland, and we just know she’s gonna shine, it’s Amy Miller!

Amy Miller gets on stage to tell jokes and you’re all like well she doesn’t look funny at ALL. I hope she doesn’t blow this! Maybe I should go for a smoke break? 2 minutes in, your pants have been charmed off by her rosy cheeks and the fact that she sounds like a 6 year old Asian boy. 5 minutes in, you start to feel sad for her and sometimes feel the need to go “AWWW” out loud in the middle of her set or, occasionally “YOU’RE ADORABLE.” 10 minutes in you’re not sure if you want to have wild sex with her or have her pretend to be your mom and tuck you into bed at night while lightly stroking your hair and singing You Are My Sunshine because she’s also an excellent singer. Any exposure above 15 minutes and your head is just a chaotic swirl of love feelings and a crippling fear of eventual heartbreak and rejection at the end of which you decide you should just be best friends. It’s fun!

Plus, Matt Louv! He’s so handsome, you’ll be asking, why’d he come in here lookin like that?!?!

Matt is a comedian, Juggalo scholar, birdwatcher, wild mushroom gatherer, grizzly bear avoider and extremely eligible bachelor. He has been doing comedy for four years and isn’t famous because he would never compromise his artistic vision with success. He runs a weekly comedy show in San Francisco’s Mission District, called The Mission Position, and is generally considered “one of the funny ones” by his comedian peers. He is slowly dying from mushroom poisoning.

And Karinda Dobbins! She SOARS. She truly is like the eagle when she flies.

Motor City native Karinda Dobbins was born into a politically active family of skilled storytellers and sharp wits. Her worldview was shaped by their accounts of protest, civil rights and empowerment, weighty subjects that were always leavened with humor. Whenever she heard the grownups laughing long past her bedtime, she took that as her cue to sneak out of her room and eavesdrop while they entertained themselves with Richard Pryor records. She not only listened, she learned, and grew up to hold her own as a keen comedic commentator.

Plus your regulars! Anna “Serejolenea”, “Nato-to-Five” Green, and “Bucky I’m Burnin” Sinister.

Get your tix in advance cause even though Dolly won’t ever sell out, we totally do.

BYOBurrito and wrap it in a foil of many colors.

The Business January 15th 2014: The Vote For Edwin Li Edition

Vote for whoever you want in a San Francisco mayoral election, but you should always vote for Edwin Li in the election for which comic you would most like to high-five.

He is so very high-fiveable.

Edwin began working as a comedian at the age of 16, barreling through five minute open mike sets and hanging in the wings of the Punchline, picking the brains of any funnyman that would talk shop. His earnestness and shameless curiosity have made him a favorite with comedy veterans and club owners alike.

PLUS! All the way from Boston, Andrew Mayer

Andrew Mayer, a hotshot lawyer haunted by his childhood failures as a boy in pee-wee hockey, was charged with drunk driving and ordered by a judge to coach the worst hockey team in the league. He was reluctant at first (especially when all those crazy kids were on his limousine), but, eventually, he taught the kids how to play hockey like a duck would if it was really good at hockey. The team Andrew coached even made it to the championship game! And we all learned a little extra something about ourselves in the end. What I’m trying to say is: Andrew Mayer is a weird guy. With a quirky delivery and an offbeat sense of humor, he has quickly become a mainstay in Boston’s comedy scene.
OH HEY AND David Nguyen!

If you ask what made him want to be a comedian, he'll reply, "arrogance". Absurd or dark – David enjoys delving into every topic with a biting wit.

And Sacatomatoes own Nick Aragon! It’s gonna be a party! Not the political kind!

Your regulars will be there as well, Nato “Green PAR-TAY” Green, “Rebublicaitlin” Gill, PRESIDENT Sean Keane, Anna “Pinkogina” and Bucky “Senator”.

BYOBurrito. Choose your own filling. THAT’S DEMOCRACY IN ACTION.

The Business January 8th 2014: The TERRIFIED Edition

Holy Fuck! This week at The Business is gonna be just great. 

One of our very favorite people is gonna be here, and we could not be more Terrified of him. He's Dave Ross!

Dave is a comedian and storyteller in Los Angeles, CA. He is the host of the podcast Terrified on the Nerdist Network and a MOTH GrandSlam winner. You might have seen him on Tosh.0 with his sketch group, WOMEN, or heard him telling stories on KCRW. There is a 100% chance Dave wants to kiss or hug you.

We'll also be joined by the exceptional talent and hair of Andrew Holmgren!

Andrew Holmgren is one of the main contributors to San Francisco comedy collective Sylvan Productions, running the popular monthly showcase ‘Get Yucked Up’. He was named by SF Weekly as one of its top comics to watch for 2013 and has appeared on stages across the country including SF Sketchfest, Santa Cruz Fringe Fest, The S.H.I.T.S. and Giggles comedy fest as well as the Sacramento Comedy Festival, where he earned best of fest honors. He’s got great hair and loves sweaters.

Plus your Business regulars! "Scaredy Cat" Caitlin Gill, "Oh No!" Nato Green, "AK!"na Seregina and "BOO!"ky Sinister.

BYOBurrito and remember it's just as afraid of you as you are of it.

The Business January 1st, 2014: The Happy Birthday Colleen Edition

It's January 1st, 2014, but The Business isn't taking a day off, especially not when it's Colleen Watson's birthday! Yes, Clayton Valley High School alumnus-turned-Los-Angeles-living-room-resident Colleen Watson is back in the Bay and visiting the Business, and today is definitely the anniversary of her birth. We've also got an appearance from Kevin O'Shea, fresh off a triumphant week at Cobb's Comedy Club with John Oliver, and other special guests as well.

No Nato (he's out shopping for Colleen's present), but we've still got Anna, Bucky, Caitlin, Sean, *cake, *ice cream, Business-branded beer koozies, and lots of *party hats. Here's to 39 more wonderful years of Colleen - at least!

(*not actually available)