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Standup Brian McKim on Shecky, Life in Las Vegas

Brian McKim recently co-authored a book with his wife and fellow comic, Tracie Skene, titled The Comedy Bible: A Complete Resource for the Aspiring Comedian. It all came about quite by accident, starting with an email received back in 2010.

"We got an email from a British publisher," he explains. "I initially thought that they wanted us to review a book." McKim and Skene had been publishing and editing the online magazine Shecky for over 10 years at that point, and were known not only as veteran standups, but noted authorities on the art form. "I ignored the email, but came across it again, and found that they wanted us to sign a contract and write a book."

[jump] As they were already used to writing prolifically for their magazine, the book poured out of them in just 10 weeks. "We drew on our general knowledge of standup, our over 25 years of experience, and we did harvest some material from the magazine. We had a good body of knowledge there, and some great interviews with people like Richard Lewis, Shelley Berman, and Dick Cavett."

They were pleased with the results. "We're very proud of the book," he says. "It's a beautiful book, and it was a relief to get a physical book out on bookshelves in bookstores around the world before books die."

A second book is now in the works, and with that project came the decision to shutter Shecky last April. McKim, who studied journalism, started the online magazine, along with his wife, in 1999.

"It was first and foremost a creative outlet for us," he says. Citing the so-called comedy crash of the mid-'90s, McKim says it was a way to nudge the mainstream media in the right direction as far as covering standup comedy.

Another motivation was simply to help foster communication between comedians and people in related fields. "We think one of the reasons the big comedy collapse happened was a lack of real honesty and communication among standup comics. Everybody felt isolated."

The couple felt that maybe an online magazine, in some small way, could avert another comedy collapse. "So it was a multi-pronged attack, done for a variety of reasons. Fifteen years later, we couldn't believe 15 years had passed. We were very proud of what we had done."

The couple wants to use more material from Shecky for the new project. "Right now it's called The War on Comedy and we're looking for a publisher."

McKim and Skene currently live in Las Vegas, having relocated from New Jersey. So why not go all the way to L.A? Been there, done that. "We made the push to Los Angeles back in the late '80s," he says. "We were in New Jersey, about 100 miles from New York City, and we said, 'We have to move to one or the other,' and eventually chose Los Angeles. I'm sure glad we did; it was a life-changing experience for us."

The couple enjoyed their time in Southern California, but the aforementioned comedy crash in the mid-'90s chased them back to the Garden State. "We got to know Los Angeles pretty well, and made some great friends." They remained in New Jersey until heading to Nevada, a move that has proven beneficial in many respects.

Las Vegas is close to Los Angeles, but also offers opportunities of its own. "The reason we moved here was to get off the road a little bit, and it actually has worked out that way," he says. "At various times we've performed at Brad Garrett's club and at the Laugh Factory at the Tropicana and the comedy club at the Riviera. There are some daytime rooms here too, as well as opportunities for corporate work and private parties."

IF YOU GO:

Brian McKim

Acme Comedy Co.

708 N. First St., Minneapolis

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

$18

For tickets, call 612-338-6393 or visit www.acmecomedycompany.com