Benefit parties don't always sound like like a lot of fun. However, instead of planning a stuffy black-tie affair with a silent auction, local comedian Jenn Schaal has invited two comedians from out of state to the Twin Cities for Take Back the Mic! Stand Up Against Sexual Violence.
Schaal and some of her cohorts began putting together the show after dealing with the unsettling conclusion to a sexual assault trial that involved a staff member at Rick Bronson's House of Comedy and a touring comedian.
[jump] Schaal decided to put on a benefit. "Honestly, we had so many amazing headliners from all over the country that were contacting me about being a part of this show," says Schaal. "It really hit home for a lot of us." She sought out Aparna Nancherla, who wrote for Totally Biased during its brief run on FXX, and Last Comic Standing alum Tracey Ashley.
"I'd heard of the incident involving sexual harassment, and I was shocked to read that something like that had happened at a comedy club or at a condo after the show," says Ashley. "Jenn told me everything that had happened, and she said she really wanted to do something to raise money and to raise awareness, because these things are not okay. He admitted to everything he did. He didn't deny it. And he just got a slap on the wrist."
"The outcome of that situation was pretty heavy hitting, and a group of us started chatting about trying to do something as a response," says Schaal. "I'm not one to just sit around and watch. Comedians are good like that, we take care of our own."
Schaal got to work researching groups in the Twin Cities that would be a good pairing for the benefit, and felt that the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) was a perfect fit. Thanks to being sponsored by Stand Up! Records and Halunen & Associates, all of the proceeds from the show will go to MNCASA.
"It's not every day that you have this much talent, or this many TV credits, at one show. These two women are fiercely strong, smart, and hilarious comedy forces to be reckoned with," says Schaal. "Their comedy touches on a lot of social and political topics, and I just think they're perfect fits for this show."
This evening marks the first time Nancherla has performed in the Twin Cities. Ashley, who has been working on the lucrative college circuit for years, returns to Minnesota just in time for oodles of snow. Also on the bill is local comedian Mike Brody, whose famed Kevin Love jersey burning video earned a few million hits on YouTube and a shout out on Sports Center.
IF YOU GO:
Take Back the Mic!
6 W. Sixth St., St. Paul;
6 p.m. Sunday, November 23