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If you've ever considered writing some jokes and giving standup comedy a try, know this: That first time is gonna be brutal. That being the case, you might as well test your mettle in the most brutal setting possible, which in Minneapolis means hitting up the Death Comedy Jam at the downtown Grumpy's. The show's so tough it was for several years emceed by the Grim Reaper, who ushered the funny people toward metaphorical death onstage. But the mercurial crowd helps lend the weekly open mic an intensity that attracts not just hopeful newbies but Twin Cities pros eager to give their act a trial by fire, and frequently headliners working at Acme, the House of Comedy, and the Joke Joint stop in to do sets. (Todd Glass was on hand recently, and Maria Bamford routinely visits the stage when she's in town.) Whether you're getting up your nerve to perform or just enjoying the comics, Grumpy's bountiful beer selection and extra-stiff drinks will give you the necessary boost. The bombastic Chris Maddock, who has run the show since its inception in September '03, says, "It's one of the darkest and truest places of standup comedy — it's best just to surrender to it." The show starts at 10 p.m., but hopeful performers should sign up at 9 p.m.