West Seattle Blog… | Laughter is what they’re after: 2 West Seattle comics bringing it to you via Cozy Comedy
(WSB photo: Marc Moreno and Travis Sherer of Cozy Comedy)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle blog editor
In these often-grim times, it’s hard to argue with the idea that we need more laughter in our lives.
West Seattleites Travis Sherer other Marc Moreno are doing their best to bring it to you. Not just through their own careers as performing comics, but by producing shows in a variety of venues – West Seattle and beyond – through their company cozy comedy.
Here on the peninsula, they’ve been presenting a monthly comedy night at Otters on the Rocks in The Admiral District. And starting this week, they’re adding one at Great American Diner in The Junction. More on that later. First, here’s what they, and cozy comedy, are about.
Sherer explains that the name originated with the venues where they produce shows – not just bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, but also condo and apartment buildings’ communal spaces.
“We wanted to remove as many barriers as possible. A lot of people think comedy is something that’s not inclusive – they’re scared to go to comedy shows, not sure what they’re getting into. What’s cozier than taking an elevator (in your own building) to a show?”
Moreno adds that removing barriers isn’t only about the venues. They’re also prioritizing diversity in the comics they book for shows – Sherer adds, “A lot of comics look like me; we need more who don’t look like me.” They emphasize diversity in style, too, though the bottom line is whether someone can tell a “good joke.” They aim for PG-13-style humor, not too “dirty,” although they say, if someone’s going to be dirty, they’d better be remembered more for being funny than for being dirty.
And they’re searching for talent. “We want to find people, and give them more of a space,” people who are making the jump from a five-minute set to 20 minutes, for example. None of the shows they book are for beginners, no “open mic” nights. But there’ll be a difference between the shows at the Great American Diner and the ones they’ve been producing for Otter on the Rocks – for the latter, they’ve been presenting national-caliber talent; the former will be more for the up-and-coming. And for all their shows, the comics are paid – nobody’s being asked to perform for free.
Their booming business is ramping up just as live shows are on the rise in their post-shutdown comeback. The pandemic was rough on the comedy business, they observe – for one, Seattle’s Comedy Underground club shut down last year. Now, the region is seeing “a lot of smaller shows, like what we do.”
Beyond the venues, Moreno adds, “A lot of comics had to make hard decisions and move out of the area or to smaller towns – that significantly changed the (landscape).”
But they’re finding receptivity in places that have other types of entertainment and are interested in comedy as a changeup. They’re always looking for more venues as long as the places’ characteristics are suitable – good sight lines, no posts in the middle of the room, no high ceilings to hurt the acoustics, etc. They’re going to the Concierge Guild Expo later this month to talk to more operators of condo buildings – “Buildings are always talking about their community. We try to create shows that are not divisive, (with) people who are not going to put a chasm in the room.”
So how’d they meet? Sherer said he was touring pre-pandemic with a “headliner” named Susan Jones (who, he notes, is among those who’ve left the area – she’s now in Las Vegas but is booked for the Otter on the Rocks show next month) who told him about a podcast Moreno had for new comics. That’s since been discontinued, Moreno says – he instead pivoted to live online events while the venue shutdowns continued. Meantime, the two stayed in touch and then found themselves “working the same venues.” One day, Sherer suggested they put on a show for an apartment building; they used Moreno’s as a test and brought in a former West Seattleite, Derek Sheen, as a headliner. “We had a great time!” Sherer recalls.
They’re both “daywalkers,” Moreno says—that means they have day jobs. He’s in IT; Sherer is in education. Moreno’s path to comedy started as “the class clown” – carried on into adulthood. “In business meetings I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. After the second open mic, I realized, ‘Oh, I’m a comic’ … able to say crazy sh– … odd and outspoken.” Sherer says he first got bit by the comedy bug in college at Bellingham. “While everybody was sneaking across the border to drink, I was sneaking across to see comedy in Vancouver. Took me more than 10 years to give it a try.” That came after he took a class – twice, because “at first I wasn’t convinced” that he could do it, but then he realized he loved it.
(Photo courtesy Cozy Comedy – Moreno at Otter on the Rocks)
They of course can’t book themselves for all their shows but they do a fair amount of hosting. “There’s a rule about how often you can be rebooked at the same venue, usually six months to a year,” Sherer explains. He hosts the Otter on the Rocks shows, while Moreno will host at Great American Diner. They’re excited about that new show, which starts this Friday (October 7th), 8 pm. “This is a way to get to know some of the comics we haven’t seen, and to give people in West Seattle the chance to see people they wouldn’t see.” The comics are in essence using this new show to audition for the other venues where Cozy Comedy is booking shows – which have grown to Queen Anne, the Central District, Mill Creek, Redmond, and Crescent Bar, which is in George in Eastern Washington. Of the Great American Diner (4752 California SW), Sherer says, “it’s going to be a fun space.” While most of the acts will be auditioning – but are “accomplished,” just new to Cozy Comedy – this show does have a “closer,” Andrew Frankwho often works as a headliner.
Meantime, they’ll continue presenting the show at Otter on the Rocks (4210 SW Admiral Way),”routine killers,” one Monday night a month. “We’re going to continue to bring accessible comedy to West Seattle and other parts of the area,” Moreno declares. “We want to remove all the barriers to having fun with us.” So far that seems to be a winning strategy, as the show has sold out every month. “Last one, three weeks in advance!” marvel’s Sherer.
Now that people are going out again, Moreno says, there’s “a crazy strong sense of community at that moment – people are just grateful” to be able to go out and be entertained. Monday night is an advantage, too. “Every comic is open on a Monday, doesn’t matter how good you are!” Sherer laughs. For the audience, weeknights are easier for getting a sitter, they note, though they’re careful to add that the audience’s age range stretches well past parents-of-young-children age too.
They also want you to know: “We’re grateful to West Seattle for supporting us. … We can book funny people all we want, but it really takes a community to support that.”
You can get tickets to any of the upcoming shows – Great American Diner, Otter on the Rocks, or non-West Seattle venues if the return of the bridge makes you feel like going off-peninsula – via the Cozy Comedy website, where you’ ll find video clips too.