Scouring the country for punk venues, dive bars and whatever hole-in-the-wall that'll give it stage time, the Altercation Punk Comedy Tour is an attempt to tap into the rebellious spirit of indie rock, but with the satiric bite of alternative comedy.
Founder JT Habersaat named the tour after Altercation Magazine, the punk-music periodical he publishes, and took a cue from Patton Oswalt's "Comedians of Comedy Tour," which has become a touchstone of modern alt-comedy.
"We don't play comedy clubs on our tour," Habersaat said. "There is a definite sense of rebellion that comes with nontraditional venues, because most standup comedy clubs make you censor your material to a degree. In our opinion, no topic is off-limits, and we want to take crowds away from chicken fingers and three-drink-minimum mentality of strip-mall comedy clubs."
Despite the confrontational name, the comedians in the Altercation lineup aren't going to be inciting screaming matches with the audience; the name more references an anything-goes spirit. Although Habersaat doesn't want the show to devolve into gross-out humor, giving the comics the freedom to push boundaries is part of what has invigorated comedy's growth among indie-rock crowds.
"You still have your Carrot Tops and Dane Cooks that are the fast food of comedy, and there are also the road dogs that are fine with doing the chuckles comedy circuit for several weeks at a time, but when people like Patton Oswalt and David Cross started hitting indie crowds, it opened up a new crowd," he said. "They changed people's perceptions, and now comedy is more accepted as an art form, rather than just blockbuster entertainment."
MORE ABOUT THE VOICE
Habersaat hit the comedy circuit at 16 in New York City and said he's often labeled a "with attitude" comic. He molded himself after comics whose style was more about the voice than the material or a shtick.
"When I think of comics that matter to me, whether it's Bill Hicks, George Carlin or Steven Wright, it's always someone that broke the mold," he said. "The material they are doing might not always be the most awe-inspiring, but when you hear their voice doing the material, you know it's them."
Altercation's stop at Sauced next Wednesday marks the first time the tour has worked with a sideshow troupe. Oklahoma's own Carnival of Cleavage featuring Boobzilla will open the show. Now in its third tour, Habersaat said that promoters are just now starting to believe comics really can forge a path across the country via audiences at smaller rock venues.
"The first time out is the hardest and we weren't sure if we could get crowds or if the crowds would even respond to it," he said. "The promoters weren't exactly hesitant, but they were interested because they'd never tried it before. It was the first time comedy had been done there. There were nights where there were just a few people and then nights where there (were) 200. Either way, we can still make enough to get us to the next town. Regardless of how many people are there, we still give the same performance."
Altercation Punk Comedy Tour with Carnival of Cleavage, Tapestry and Shoulda Brought Shotguns stages at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14 at Sauced , 2912 Paseo.