Very rarely does anyone look forward to a Monday.
The weekend is over, a full week of work lies ahead and there are five full days until Friday rolls around.
Mondays, for many, are a drag.
And Andrew Brynildson hopes they stay that way.
“It’s finding people who hate their Mondays so much they want a laugh at the end of it. And hopefully to drink and eat cheap tacos,” Brynildson said.
Brynildson is the creator, and host, of the Minneapolis based Monday Night Comedy Show.
Prior to the birth of MNCS, Brynildson worked as the technical director for the Brace New Workshop in Uptown.
After five years, he stopped his work with BNW, and in 2007 stumbled upon a then newly opened coffeehouse in Uptown, The Beat.
“I asked them if they were going to have entertainment, if he wanted to do a live show. And [the owner] said ‘I’ll think about it,'” Brynildson said. “I started going in because he had free WiFi and cheap coffee and I was unemployed. Then he said, on Friday, ‘Hey that show, you want to start it?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely, yes!’ And he said, ‘OK, how about Monday? Three days from now?'”
Thus, the Monday Night Comedy Show was born. And seven years later, it’s still going strong.
So, this week I sat down with Brynildson and Spring Street Tavern venue manager Josh Caviness, to hear about just how the MNCS can Mondays so much better.
So, tell me about that first show.
Brynildson: That first show was … first show-y. It was just me. I had no help. I was running lights, sound and hosting. Something that changed the next week and I got help. And from there we did the show for four years at The Beat in Uptown. In 2011, one thing led to another and we got the call from Josh Caviness, or I might have made the call to Josh Caviness, and asked him if he wouldn’t mind hosting the Monday Night Comedy Show down at his Club Underground. And he said ‘Yup!’
How has the move to Club Underground changed the Monday Night Comedy Show?
Brynildson: It has definitely changed the audience. There was no alcohol served at The Beat. So, that definitely made the show a lot different than it is now. Not as many regulars made the journey north as I would have hoped.
Caviness: Some of the regulars do occasionally show up, but it’s more special occasions.
Brynildson: Every once in a while. Christmas shows, holiday shows, Halloween. Our anniversary show is in May and that’s always a big deal.
Caviness: That’s one of the things that did change. We started serving Fair Trade Organic cold press as a nod to the old coffee regulars. And it makes a mean cocktail.
A lot of people are familiar with ACME Comedy Club. What does the Monday Night Comedy Show offer that ACME, and other shows like that, don’t?
Brynildson: It’s a writer’s room. We encourage new material all the time. We have a program that we started several years ago called the “Comic In Residence” program where a comic signs up for three weeks of time. Every week they come up with five minutes of new material just for this room. So they don’t test it out, in theory, in other rooms before they perform it here. And it keeps at least 15 to 20 minutes of new material each week that people haven’t seen. Usually comics starting out get three minutes, we always start them at five. Try to cap them out at ten, but obviously we aren’t going to shut off the mic.
Caviness: It’s also a booked showcase instead of an open mic.
Brynildson: I book the show ahead of time so the audience knows who’s going to perform ahead of time.
So, how is the talent booked? Are they people you know?
Brynildson: For the most part. We get new people every once in a while. We get new people coming in from out of town who are performing at say, Joke Joint or House of Comedy or … any of the other numerous clubs. They are usually referred to us by someone who is a regular here, a local comic. We always make time for out-of-towners because they’re traveling thousands of miles for probably very little money. While we don’t pay our performers because we can barely pay ourselves, but we’ll always make accommodations. To try and entice other comics to come and check out the show we have the ‘Wild Card’ slot every week, which is for five minutes sometime during the show. And anyone can try that even if they’ve never performed comedy.
Are there any local, well-known Minneapolis comics that perform or come to the show?
Brynildson: Oh, yeah. We get Bill Young. Pat Ryan Bauer. John Conroy, who recently moved back to D.C. He’s in town as often as he can. Mike Brody. Dwight York. There are hundred of comics so I’m trying to remember them all.
I can imagine they add up after seven years! Speaking of the time, do you have a favorite memory from your years on the show?
Brynildson: In 2009 I decided that I was going to move back home to Indiana, where I’m from, for a girl. Which was completely ill-advised. And I do not suggest doing that ever. And I essentially came back to Minneapolis with my tail between my legs saying, ‘Well, that was dumb.’ And I was welcomed back with open arms. The word got around that we were going to come back that November … and we had the biggest audience that we’ve ever had in The Beat coffeehouse. And that made me realize that what I was doing was something that comics do like and they do care about the room. And we have a staying power that doesn’t make me concerned about whether we are going to be here next year or the year after that. As long as the Twin Cities has the talent that it does, we’re going to be just fine.
So, for those who have never seen the show, or any type of comedy show, what can they expect from MNCS?
Brynildson: Usually something weird. A very unprofessional host who doesn’t do anything he ought to as a host, but for some reason people … don’t throw rotten fruit at me. There’s free entertainment out there, but you’re not going to get something for $4 out there like you’ll get here. It’s two and a half hours of solid comedy and strange giveaways and contests. I like to think of us as the weirdest comedy show in Minneapolis. I want that to be on our tombstone.
The Monday Night Comedy Show takes place from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Mondays at Spring Street Tavern’s Club Underground. The tavern offers Mexican Monday’s which include $1.25 tacos, $3.50 Mexican beers and $4 margaritas. Tickets cost $4.