Pete Lee, Tracey Ashley, Tim Slagle, and Tim Bedore prepare to Crash & Burn at Acme


For most comedians, trying out a few brand-new jokes in front of a paying audience is risky, if not completely unheard of. This week, four of Acme Comedy Co.'s most popular headliners will take that idea one step further when they each try out 20 minutes of completely new material for the third-annual Crash & Burn event.

[jump] On paper, the premise seems pretty simple: comedians Tim Slagle, Pete Lee, Tracey Ashley, and Tim Bedore will work together throughout the week to create a never-before-seen 20-minute set that they'll perform onstage each night with no advanced preparation. While the show itself could be amazing or disastrous, half of the fun for the comics themselves is the process.

"I'm really excited about it," says Ashley, who is participating in her very first Crash & Burn this week. "I'm always traveling and playing different clubs or colleges, so I don't really get a lot of flexibility in terms of trying out new material. I might do a minute or two here or there, but to be able to try an entirely new 20 minutes is something I would never be able to do anywhere else."

Slagle originally created the concept back in 2011 during Acme's 20-year anniversary event, and he brought it to the stage for the first time the following spring. Since then, it's been a hit with audiences and comedians alike.

"The great thing for fans is that you get to see the jokes develop over the course of the week," explains Ashley. "What you see on Tuesday or Wednesday night is probably going to be a rough version of what you'll see on Saturday, so just to be able to watch that process is really cool."


After watching last year's event, Ashley says she jumped at the chance to participate this time around as a way to help her break out of her comedy comfort zone.

"When I first started doing comedy, I'd come to open mic nights and do the exact same jokes every single time," she says. "I was too afraid to do new material, because I didn't want to fail. But the thing about comedy is that in order to get better, you have to try new things and tank onstage once in a while. That's the only way you get really good, and that's what the Crash & Burns shows are all about."

In addition to being a great opportunity for the comedians to work on new material, Crash & Burn is by far one of the most unique shows you'll find in the Twin Cities comedy community, and one of the best values around.

"On a normal night, you'd get to see one headliner perform. This week you get four of us, and you know that you're seeing a totally unique act," says Ashley. "Plus, the quality of comedians performing is just incredible. Tim Slagle is a genius, Pete Lee is just the best, and I don't know Tim Bedore personally, but everything I've seen of his has been great."

While the concept of the event centers around the idea of collaboration and teamwork amongst all of the talents in order to elevate the group as a whole, there has to be a little bit of friendly competition to be the best act of the night, right?

"I hadn't thought about it like that before right now," Ashley laughs. "Now it's like the Hunger Games for comedy. I don't think I'll get too competitive, but we'll see how I feel after those first shows are done."


Crash & Burn 3

Acme Comedy Company

8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

$15; 18+