Ep. 11 - Dark Mark Joyner Is Traumatized By Facebook
 

It’s easy to make jokes about vegans, but what happens when a vegan makes a really dark joke about depressing animal cruelty videos? It may not sound like a recipe for comedy, perhaps until you hear it in the voice of beloved Baltimore comedian Dark Mark. The joke lands really hard for Dan, but they acknowledge that a regular audience might find it too disturbing to laugh at. And yet Dan thinks that, framed as a plea for veganism, Mark could still pull the joke off.

Dark Mark has been hosting the legendary Sidebar open mic for around four years. Dan and Mark talk about the nature and perils of crowd work, and whether certain interactions with an audience should even be considered crowd work. They discuss various approaches to joke writing, whether it’s carefully planning every syllable in advance, or going onstage with a vague idea and letting the audience guide you to the finished joke. Regardless of the comic, there seems to be value in trying different approaches. Dan asks Mark about a specific joke involving dogs and bees, and learns a little about how the joke was developed.

Speaking of dogs, Mark is working on a doozy of a joke about dog cruelty. Mark reveals in the setup that being a vegan has changed his Facebook feed, with the end result that he is now subjected to numerous disturbing videos. A small but brutal observation turns the bit into a joke, although he and Dan explore how to make the joke work for a general audience. There seems to be potential. Meanwhile Dan wants to make a joke about the time he went to college with Kurtis Blow, the rapper (true story). He and Mark kick a few different ideas around, and Mark challenges Dan to take the story onstage at a mic and work the bit out in front of an audience. They also discuss jokes about the purge, bloody mary, and a couple of trashy TV shows.

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 10 - Beth Haydon Ponders Comedy and Mayonnaise
 

Chewing gum, homophobia and fetal alcohol syndrome: How does it all tie together? At first glance, Beth’s jokes seem to touch on very different topics, but she and Dan sense that they are all tied together somehow by the underlying persona Beth is bringing to the stage.

Beth is relatively new to the world of stand-up comedy but has already established herself a bit in the local scene, even winning a competition at Magooby’s Joke House. She and Dan discuss the differences in their starting points, and then Dan tries to get his head around a strange bit that Beth has been trying involving mayonnaise. Dan talks about jokes that his dad wrote for him, and Beth talks about an upcoming cereal podcast.

Beth’s jokes get into pretty dark territory, touching on topics like abortion and fetal alcohol syndrome, and Dan comments on the difficulty of getting a laugh from an audience on a topic like this unless the punchline can really deliver. There is something really funny here though, and it comes up again when Beth talks about people who see gum-chewing as a vice, or people who expressed concern to Beth’s parents because they thought she might be gay. She and Dan explore the idea of a person who is coming away from a conservative upbringing, but still trying to engage with it, albeit in a really funny way.

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 9 - Don't Let Lyle Drescher Use Your Bathroom
 

The podcast officially has its first poop joke! What begins as an observational bit from Lyle about toilet paper quickly devolves into a discussion of strange bathroom behavior. But there is good comedic potential here.

Dan and Lyle discuss Lyle’s early entry into stand-up, and what it was like being a teenage comedian. They talk about anxiety at open mics, and Dan reveals that he has recently been exploring his anxiety through comedy. Lyle talks about his short-lived but excellent Philly comedy room, The Cave, which Dan holds in high regard.

For the joke segment, Dan revisits the topic of anxiety and discusses a new opener he’s been using based on his discomfort with walking into a crowded venue. Meanwhile Lyle has a few new jokes about cell phones and a security guard with a strong attitude about museum art. Lyle has the beginning of an observational bit about toilet paper, but isn’t sure what to do with it. Dan sees an opportunity for a callback to a different joke.

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 8 - Michael Furr Takes on the Sologamists
 

At what point do you give up on love and settle… for yourself? Michael has some things to say about a bizarre practice in which people publicly commit themselves to themselves. He knows there is a comedy gold mine here, and wants to keep digging until he can find it. 

Michael is a beloved comic in the Baltimore comedy scene, and he and Dan discuss some of his recent accomplishments, including recording a stand-up album and MC’ing the Baltimore Pride Parade. Dan learns that Michael used to make comic books about superheroes, and Michael is more than happy to talk about his extended fictional universe. They discuss the process of revisiting old jokes, and the importance of making yourself get onstage if it’s something you dream of doing.

In the joke writing session, Dan shares that he is thinking about trying to open up more about his personal anxiety onstage, as opposed to simply delivering absurd one-liners. He’s not sure what that will look like, but he has a joke about being socially intimidated by pigeons that he wants to try. Michael’s reaction is very encouraging. And then Michael delves into the subject of sologamy, the practice of marrying oneself. He has some good jokes for this topic, but he and Dan go digging for more, culminating in an extended rapid-fire riff session about a particular man who married himself while dressed as a half-man, half woman. There is a brief deviation into a joke about annoying customer service phone recordings, but Dan quickly pulls the discussion back into the wonders of sologamy, and more riffing ensues.

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 7 - Ryan Lina's Friend Has Terrible Parents
 

You know how some parents are strict, while others are cool with their kid going missing? Ryan knows that the story of a classmate who stepped out of math class (through a window, for some reason) has great comedic potential, but right now it’s just a long setup with a single quick punch at the end. But Dan thinks he should dig deeper into just what is going on with this family (something perhaps the police should have done themselves).

Ryan is back from a month-long comedy hiatus caused by illness, but Dan makes him feel guilty for not doing mics anyway. They discuss a mutually beloved old TV show that made absolutely no sense while suggesting the world was a much more terrifying place than it actually is (which is saying something). Dan and Ryan share the first jokes they ever told onstage, which are predictably terrible. Ryan used to perform in a blazer, and tells Dan the story of how he wound up on Artie Lange’s podcast so early in his comedy career. (There are lots of relevant pics to see on the Instagram, check them out @danhasjokes!)

Then it’s time for jokes. Ryan and Dan revisit one of Dan’s jokes-in-progress from an earlier episode. Dan has an old joke about his seminary degree that he wants to improve, and Ryan has lots of funny suggestions, all of which make God sound like some kind of problem child. Then Ryan shares a bizarre story about a classmate who disappeared for three days, in a very casual way, receiving a very casual amount of concern from his parents. Dan thinks Ryan needs to offer a bigger story about what is actually going on with this family. They end talking about a new joke Dan is working on about gender reveal parties.

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 6 - Eric Navarro's Very Sad Moving Day
 

How do you make the saddest day of your life funny? Eric reflects on his recent divorce, and wants to tell a joke about having to move to a new place. It’s a funny premise for sure, but there’s no payoff. Yet once Eric starts ranting about his useless neighbors, he and Dan see an opportunity for good comedy.

Dan and Eric discuss the necessity of bombing, and share stories about weird jokes and wild crowds. Eric discusses one of his old jokes, and Dan gleefully points out that it was actually a famous Ray Romano joke that Eric unwittingly mimicked. They reminisce about Dan’s old habit of throwing business cards into the audience, and Eric tells Dan this made him look like a douche.

Dan talks about a new joke that starts as an observational bit and turns into an absurdist account of a personal mishap. He wants to add more, but Eric thinks the joke could go in a different, even more absurd direction. Meanwhile, Eric wants to talk about what it was like to have to move out of his ex-wife’s house without any help. In particular, he sees humor in the sad image of dragging the couch he’s been sleeping on out to a moving truck by himself. But Dan wonders if Eric’s hatred of his neighbors couldn’t be a source for a stronger punchline. In a first for the podcast, Dan receives an email from a listener about a joke idea that needs work. He and Eric discuss general comedy principles and offer lots of different ideas for ways the bit could go.
 

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 5 - Nicki Fuchs Gets Weird on a Cruise
 

What do you do if a psychic offers you cryptic joke advice? In Nicki’s case, you spend years thinking about how to talk about one of your most embarrassing moments from the stage. This particular moment involved an ill-advised… let’s call it “show of affection,” while having dinner on a cruise with her boyfriend’s parents. Dan agrees that there is comedy in this painfully awkward story, but leans toward the idea of embellishing the story to make it crazier.

Dan and Nicki have both been performing comedy in their local scene for about the same amount of time, and Dan reveals to Nicki that she was hosting the open mic where Dan bombed his hardest. Dan is also thrilled that Nicki is a scientist, and Nicki reveals that she once performed a very science-related comedy set for her coworkers. She also talks about a recent controversial comedy special that had a big impact on her, and discusses her writing group.

And then they dive right into joke writing. Dan discusses some new one-liners, including one that bombed at a mic Nicki was hosting the night before. He and Nicki talk about how to tell when it’s time to give up on a one-liner. Nicki talks about her cruise experience, and she and Dan explore different directions the story can go in. Nicki also reveals her deep love of Southwest drink coupons.
 

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 4 - Elizabeth Norman Loves Possums, Hates the Color Perpel
 

You might think there’s a limit to how much a person should think about opossums, and you’re probably right, but Elizabeth is here to flout our silly social conventions. Opossums are weird, misbegotten creatures who come out at night - they might as well be comedians. Dan and Elizabeth try to find humor in their horrible existence.

After Elizabeth mentions that she’s an art teacher, she and Dan talk about art and creativity and how it relates to stand-up comedy. Dan reminisces about his first creative project, which was a movie about a dragon who gets sick and goes to a bar/pharmacy, offends the regulars, and winds up having to fight them in a violent finale. He and Elizabeth then discuss certain weird aspects of growing up in Christian environments, leading Elizabeth to share one of her jokes about a very uncomfortable testimonial. She also talks about the monthly comedy showcase she runs in Baltimore, Club Out of Town, which everyone should definitely check out.

And then it’s joke time! And it’s time for Elizabeth to bust out all sorts of facts about opossums, American history, and even ghost tours. It turns out she’s had a lot of interesting jobs and knows an awful lot of stuff about a lot of things. What this means is, she’s trying to write a joke about deveining shrimp. But most importantly, she has things to say about a seven-year-old who, shockingly, is bad at spelling. Dan thinks it would be funny for Elizabeth to make herself the villain of the story. Meanwhile, Dan wants to explore the concept of a surprise birthday party where everyone waits too long to get up and yell “Surprise!”
 

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 3 - Brendan Krick, the Zoo’s Worst Employee
 

To a casual reader of the Wall Street Journal, Brendan is a horrible man. Fortunately, his experience of being interviewed, and then misrepresented, by the popular newspaper seems to be a goldmine for stage material. Brendan and Dan explore ways to make the bit work.

Brendan was formerly a Pennsylvania comic, but recently moved out to LA. He and Dan discuss some quirks of the LA scene, and some of the hilarious ways that comics lie about how successful they are. Brendan reveals that he began his comedy career by performing in a suit because of Steve Martin, and Dan confesses that he spent a year wearing a suit onstage for the exact same reason. They discuss the tendency of new comics to joke about things that aren’t relatable. Brendan writes for a satire site called The Hard Times, and they discuss some of Brendan’s articles and the relationship between one-liners and satirical headlines.

Brendan then shares his experience of being interviewed by the Wall Street Journal because of his jokes about Tinder. Dan wonders why such an interview would even be featured in the Wall Street Journal. Brendan explains how his attempt at ironic humor didn’t translate well into print, thanks in part to the writer omitting certain crucial statements, culminating in Brendan being trashed on Reddit. Dan is trying to find a good punchline for a joke about Getty Images, and Brendan offers a promising idea involving nude photos. Finally, Brendan unveils an idea for a joke about being a security guard at the zoo who forms a strange bond with a man who routinely breaks in at night to… ahem… visit the animals. Maybe the Wall Street Journal was right?

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 2 - Alyssa Cowan Rides a Tandem Bike By Herself
 

It’s not about the destination, it’s about feeling awkward while you ride there. Alyssa is determined to find humor in the inescapably weird concept of a tandem bike, but where does the joke lie? She and Dan discuss several possibilities.

Alyssa talks about her frequent habit of quitting comedy, and Dan expresses admiration for this as he, too, would like to quit more things. They realize that they both hosted radio shows in college, and Dan discusses a fictional DJ named Mordecai who used to co-host with him. Alyssa explains her aversion to collaborating with other people, and reveals her very short-lived career in improv comedy, during which she somehow built a small-but-loyal fan base. They also talk about their love for writing one-liners.

In the second half, Dan revisits his “best joke ever” (according to his wife, who is surely wrong): his Tommy Lee Jones joke. He wants to expand on it so that he can turn it into a reflection on Tommy Lee Jones’ career, culminating in a handful of jokes about Batman Forever. Meanwhile, Alyssa is obsessed with tandem bikes, and is on a mission to come up with a good joke about them. She thinks maybe they would be appealing to twins, and Dan shares his own difficulties with writing twin-related jokes. Ultimately, they find comedic possibilities in the idea of a tandem bike ride share idea.

Dan Marse-Kapr
Ep. 1 - Scott Seiss Gets an Awkward Bachelor Party
 

Think strip clubs are creepy? Wait until you hear about the party Scott’s friends are throwing him — at least according to his new joke. It’s a funny concept, but Scott keeps getting weird stares from the audience when he tells it onstage. Dan and Scott agree that something in the setup needs to change.

Welcome to the podcast all about joke writing. In the first half of this episode, we learn that Scott once beat Dan in a stand-up competition, but it’s okay because Dan headlined a different competition where Scott accidentally disqualified himself, so it all evens out. Scott explains his former love for Jim Carrey and Dan realizes that this is why Scott acted like a lunatic the first time he ever saw Scott perform. Scott talks about the worst time he ever bombed. Dan tries to figure out why Scott seems like a clean comic even though he isn’t, and Scott adds to the confusion by mentioning his discomfort with the word “sex,” which makes Dan feel awkward.

And then it’s time to write some jokes! Dan discusses a recent experience where a man in the audience told him, as he bombed, that “it was a good try.” Scott is working on a new joke about his friends throwing him a bachelor party, ending with Scott getting a lap dance from a TV (in the joke, not during the podcast). Dan tells Scott about a bit he tried involving a flip-pad and ten generic restaurant slogans he found on forketers.com, and then they visit the website and marvel at how weird it is. They talk about Scrooge McDuck and Tommy Lee Jones, and Scott says some very strange things about Jeff Bezos and tentacles. They end by discussing Scott’s joke about a team-building exercise, and Scott’s coworker turns out to be an FBI agent.

Dan Marse-Kapr