At the height of the pandemic, when pretty much everyone needed a good laugh, Jack N’ Minor’s Pickup Comedy Show began bringing live standup to the RVA masses in a socially distanced outdoor environment. Gabe Santamaria spoke to the men behind the wheel of the only Richmond comedy show that takes place in the bed of a pickup truck.
In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, with no shows going on, live comedy went viral [no pun intended, I assume? -ed]. Zoom shows and Tik Tok were the closest things that comedians could do to get a laugh. It was awkward. And two Richmond comedians realized that, if they were going to perform for an audience anytime soon, they’d be forced to get creative.
With this reality spurring them on, Jack Parker and Will Minor (better known as Jack N’ Minor) wanted to find a way to perform live under the restrictions COVID had brought. They decided to take the punk rock approach: do-it-yourself, low-budget, using what they had. They made the bed of a pickup truck a stage, got an amp and a mic, and began performing outdoor shows around Richmond. With that, Jack N’ Minor’s Pickup Comedy Show was born. It has featured such local favorites as Sarah Ahmed, Nick Deez, and Winston Hodges, as well as drawing touring comedians to do a quick spot.
I got to sit down with the ringleaders of this DIY comedy show to talk about the evolution of the Richmond comedy scene, the origins of their pickup truck shows, and the journey they’ve been on with their new comedy venture — so far. Here’s our conversation:
Gabe: OK, so let’s start from the beginning. How long have y’all been doing stand-up?
Jack: Four years now. I started in Fredericksburg. There, I could only do two [open] mics every month before I got to Richmond, where I could really focus on it. So I would say three years taking it seriously.
Minor: I’m about three years in, myself.
Gabe: So have you seen Richmond comedy evolve since you’ve been doing it?
Minor: Oh my god, yes!
Jack: So much.
Minor: When we first showed up, just bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we didn’t know anybody. We never even talked to each other.
Jack: Will and I thought we hated each other.
Minor: We were just so socially awkward. We didn’t know anybody or how the scene worked. We were just like [in a cracking adolescent voice], “Hi, I wanna sign up for the comedy show.”
Jack: How could I not step on anybody’s toes and also get stage time? You’re so nervous starting off.
Minor: You never wanna come across as a douche or just like, “I’m coming into the comedy scene, I know what’s up, I’m Andrew Dice Clay.” I feel like a lot of people don’t want to be that way.
Gabe: So, how’d these pickup truck stand-up shows start?
Jack: Will got in a car wreck.
Minor: (laughs) It was COVID.
Jack: COVID? Will got in a horrendous car wreck!
Minor: It wasn’t that bad.
Jack: Your car was totaled! So, you ended up with a truck.
Minor: Insurance said it was totaled.
Jack: He got a pickup truck. And I was like, “You know, we could do pickup shows.” We were still in COVID. We didn’t have space to perform.
Minor: It was the middle of the pandemic and we hadn’t done shows in a year. We had done Zoom mics and we had kept writing jokes, but it really wasn’t the same. I probably saw a post on Instagram for something in New York. I saw they were doing a show out of pickup truck, and I was like, “Why can’t we just do that here?”
Jack: We both kind of had the idea but never spoke it out loud. I got the first idea of doing pickup comedy when they were doing comedy off the loading dock at Buskey Cider. I had taken some friends out to go watch a show. It had started raining at the very beginning of the show.
Gabe: Oh boy.
Jack: And it was one of those things where… I think the best way I can put it: comedy out of spite. We stuck around and had a good time to spite the weather. We had fun out of a sheer sense of spite and resistance. We’re like, “No. You’re not gonna stop me from having a good time.”
Gabe: Spite is a healthy motivator.
Jack: It can be. That’s what was so amazing. Out of that spite [came] our first [show], which we did at Boulevard Burger and Brew.
Minor: It was so cold. It was seventy degrees the day before. And then of course it dropped down to forty the day of the show.
Jack: We started that one in March, and I had to call people to say, “Hey, would you guys like to be on the show?” Initially it was eight comics, and we only had an hour to get on. As we continued to build it, we got bigger and bigger crowds. We had to tell comics, “There’s a list now of people who want to get on.”
Jack: We’re getting headliners in. We have people coming from New York, from Washington.
Minor: We had a comic friend of ours drop in from South Florida who just wanted to do five minutes.
Jack: They heard we had a cool show, and we’re just like, “…I guess we do.”
Minor: Cool to see all these comedians hitting us up out of the blue, because there’s a show where they can perform and it’s safe and outside, and follows all the guidelines.
It was a pleasure talking with Jack and Will. You can follow their pickup truck shows by following Jack N’ Minor on Instagram and Facebook, and you can listen to their podcast, which also happens to be called Jack N’ Minor, on Spotify. Their pickup shows currently take place at Bingo Beer Co. every other Tuesday. Their next show is at Bingo on August 24th at 7pm with Nick Deez headlining and featuring Ray Kirby and Francesca Lyn. Jack and Will open the show, and then after the features there will be a short open mic that anyone can sign up for. Contact Jack N’ Minor to get on the list, and be sure to catch this in-your-face DIY comedy show for yourself. Support local.
Photos courtesy Jack N’ Minor