Basic City Comedy: An Open Mic Night For The Audience

by | Aug 29, 2022 | COMEDY, COMMUNITY

Hello reader! Comedy has been in full swing in Richmond, and I love to see it. It’s at a point where a comedian can find a spot on an open mic any night of the week. One of open mics that has been making waves is the Basic City Comedy mic every Wednesday at 7:30 at Basic City Brewing.

This week I got to talk to Monty Giles and Tyler Bower — comedians, runners of ComedyRVA on Instagram, and hosts of the wild weekly open mic at Basic City’s Richmond location. The Wednesday residency has been compared to the popular podcast Kill Tony — though, if you ask me, while there are some similarities, there are more differences. At Basic City Comedy, the list starts after the hosts open the show. The first comedian does a set with commentary from the hosts at a side table, along with added sound bites. When that first comedian’s set is done, they join the hosts at the table for commentary on the next comic. The hosts can probably explain it better than I can. Here’s our conversation:

Your hosts, Monty Giles and Tyler Bower. Photo by Nate Bechtel

Gabe: Let’s start from the beginning. Individually, before Basic City Comedy, how long ago did you guys start doing comedy?

Monty: I started a little bit after Tyler. So, was that three years?

Tyler: You started… 2018? 2019?

Monty: Yeah, I think so. I think 2019.

Tyler: I first did it in 2017. Did it on and off until about 2019. Then I actually started taking it seriously. Because [before that] I would just kind of fuck around and film stuff for YouTube. Wasn’t really focused on being serious about stand-up.

Gabe: Nice. So, did you guys meet before the standup started, or did you guys meet at an open mic?

Monty: We met doing standup at J Kogi over in Jackson Ward.

Tyler: There used to be a Monday weekly mic at J Kogi that was very fun but always hectic. Always wild.

Gabe: I heard some tales of that mic. I think it was something like: a patron got mad at a comic, and almost got in a fight?

Monty: That makes sense. 

Tyler: [laughs] There’s definitely always a few disputes here and there.

Basic City Comedy, in full swing. Photo by Nate Bechtel

Gabe: Wild. OK, so, in 2018 or 2019, you guys start doing standup more seriously, and then the pandemic hits. Where do you guys go from there, and how do you eventually get to Basic City Comedy?

Tyler: When stuff first started coming back, it was mainly Fredericksburg or Virginia Beach. We used to ride up with our buddy, Mumford Davis. We’d carpool up to Fredericksburg or Virginia Beach. Monty started hosting a mic up there at KC’s Music Alley. And after that went on for a few months, I started [bringing] my laptop and my equipment. There was a sound booth, and I basically set up my laptop and a “voice-of-God” mic. I’d kind of talk shit to Monty while he was on stage, and play sound effects during comics. Basically sit in the back of the room and talk shit to the four or five comics that were there and the one or two audience members. That sound accurate, Monty?

Monty: Yeah. And then you got that show at the REC Room. And I think that was the first time we really did the talking during comics’ sets, with the soundboard.

Tyler: Yeah, and having the tables set up.

Gabe: So this was really laying down the groundwork for what would become your current show?

Monty: Yeah, pretty much. Then Jack-N-Minor [Jack Parker and Will Minor] had a couple of different rooms going on but wanted to focus the one at Isley [Brewing], so they put us in touch with the Basic City dudes. We pretty much started there, and it’s been over a year. The show has honestly changed a lot from when we first started it.

Tyler: Yeah, we really didn’t have any idea of what we were doing running a show. We’ve always been pretty loose, and always kind of fucked around. I think over the course of the year it’s settled in to be a pretty stable show, while still being chaotic.

Gabe: It’s a hit, especially amongst the local comics. Everyone needs to see it. How would you describe the Basic City Comedy Open Mic?

Tyler: It really is hard to describe it. You kind of need to experience it to get it accurately.

Monty: Yeah. Like, for our anniversary show we had people getting pied in the face. We had fireworks we probably shouldn’t have lit off.

Tyler: Well, they were just the Pop-Its. They’re just the little things you throw at the ground-

Monty: Tyler! I’m trying to build it up. Come on now.

Tyler: [laughs] Fine. We had M80’s.

The open mic at Basic City Comedy. Photo by Nate Bechtel

Monty: [laughs] But yeah, it’s definitely different than any other open mic. We started doing open mics together and hittin’ it all the time, and it can become kind of monotonous after a while. Doing the same material, the same jokes and shit. We wanted to do something that keeps the audience there. Make sure they have a good time, and make sure the comics have a good time. It’s all in good fun. People say it’s like Kill Tony, but I really don’t think so, because we don’t interview anyone. We have a soundboard and we both have a microphone on stage, and we get to talk during their set. And when they get off, they get to sit with us and they get a microphone too. So it’s kind of egalitarian. Everyone gets to talk shit. And if you don’t do good during your set… I’ve seen people not do well during their set, and then get on the third mic and kill it.

Tyler: Basic City Comedy is the mic for the audience. Check out any shows in Richmond at ComedyRVA. There’s a bunch of great people putting on shows. Like Mary Jane French, Rieka Speaks, Mu Cuzzo… who am I missing? There’s a lot of great people putting on shows. If people have been thinking about going to see comedy, there’s never been a better time to do it.

Be sure to go to Basic City Brewery Wednesday nights for stand-up, commentary, prizes, surprises, beer and plenty of laughs from this great open mic. Sign ups are done online, but walk-in sign ups usually get on the list too, so be sure to make it out there. Basic City Brewing’s Richmond location is at 212 W. 6th St, and Basic City Comedy’s weekly open mic takes place every Wednesday night at 8 pm. Monty and Tyler run the ComedyRVA Instagram page as well, which updates followers of all comedy shows in the Richmond area, spotlights local comedians, and has news updates on the scene, so be sure to check it out.

Top Photo via Basic City Comedy/Instagram

Gabriel Santamaria

Gabriel Santamaria

Band leader of The Flavor Project, Co Owner at La Cocina Studios, Cast Member on The Hustle Season podcast.

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