A Conversation with Rusty Rutherford
ABQ Comedian and Community Activist:
I called on a friend recently, for this weekly blog of Tractor’s. That friend was none other than Rusty Rutherford aka Rusta Rhymes. Not too long ago Rusty called the Tractor and inquired about Tractor Brewing Wells Park being the late night host venue for a Comedy Contest. Comedy Contest? Yeah, contest – “ok,”- we said – of course… and so far, it’s been great! We can’t wait for each 3rd Thursday to come along, and the buzz about beer and jokes on the “Beer Farm,” is spreading quickly. We love that a late night venue has been born of our beer yielding beast of a building – and are happy to support not only one comic’s love for a scene and city – but his dream as well – for more info beyond this conversation, on a very big dream that Rusty is working on – please visit: www.dukecitydreamlab.com. And now, to the conversation at hand – just what is a Comedy Contest?
How does one get involved to compete?
Each show has 10 comics doing a 5-minute set, and at the end of the show the audience votes on the winners. The top two comics win some cash, and the top 3 are invited back to compete again the following month. I work on booking a mix of veteran comedians and newer comics. Most of the acts are doing other shows around town, but there have been a few occasions where someone who was doing comedy for the first time has won. If you are interested in performing in a future show, email me at Rusty@RustyComedy.com, but hit me up early because the shows fill up fast!
Where did the idea come from?
Before doing stand up comedy, I was doing a lot of theatre. Albuquerque has a thriving theatre community, and I love that “community” aspect of it. In theatre you work with large groups of actors, writers, directors, technicians, etc., so you build friendships with those people you work with, and I’ve seen a lot of creative projects spawn from those friendships. Stand up is a very individual art form. Comedians write their own material, find their own gigs, and perform on stage alone. The weight of how well a comedian does weighs solely on themselves. When a comic has an amazing set, they get ALL the credit, and when he has a bad set, he gets ALL the blame. I would go do open-mics around town, and for the most part we were all friendly with each other, but I didn’t see the same friendships as I did in the theatre world. I started my 3rd Thursday’s shows to work at creating a more communal scene. That was about 7 years ago, and since then a lot of other comedians have also produced shows with a similar feel, and I’m proud to say that we have an awesome comedy scene in this city now, and most of us are, either friends, lovers, or ex-lovers.
What should crowds expect?
Expect to be fully engaged. Although other performing art forms like music and theatre feed off the energy of the crowd, I don’t think anyone is quite as aware of their surroundings as a stand up comedian. We notice who loves us, who hates us, who loves the bartender…everything…and we’re not afraid to talk about what we see out there. 3rd Thursdays are high energy and with a large number of comics doing short sets, there is a nice flow to the show, so if you hate one comic, it gives you a chance to run to the bar and buy a beer because in a few minutes someone new will be up there.
Why have it at Tractor?
The first comedy show I saw at Tractor was in Los Lunas several years ago when The Pajama Men performed. That night I realized that doing comedy at a brewery made perfect since. Tractor has always been very supportive of the arts, and because of that they get a lot of art-minded people inside. I think the balance of a smart audience and a drunk audience is every stand up comedians dream. Plus, if we have a bad set, beer is just an arm’s reach away.
What do you like about Abq’s comedy scene?
We have somewhat of a punk-rock-comedy scene. When Laff’s Comedy Club closed down, if local comics wanted to perform, we had to start creating our own shows, and our own scene. Local comedians went from having a couple opportunities a month to perform in town a few years ago, to a couple opportunities a night on some nights now. Unlike a lot of other city’s comedy scenes, we have open arms to new people who want to try their wit in our twisted world, so there’s always new perspectives popping up on stages around the city, you just have to look a little harder to find them than you would if we had a comedy club. A good place to start if you’d like to go see a show, or even perform is the 3rd Thursday of every month at Tractor in Wells Park. You can find a full schedule of upcoming shows and open-mics at AlbuquerqueComedy.com.
NEXT THIRD THURSDAY COMEDY CONTEST: FEB 19TH 10PM – Tractor Brewing Wells Park – 1800 4th Street NW – (505) 243-6752 – www.getplowed.com