I grew up in the Las Vegas punk scene, and I don’t like being told what to do. My name is Bryan Bruner, and I am, among other things, a stand-up comedian. For the past year I have been producing shows with room-mates and friends everywhere we could, as long as they were nowhere near 1) a comedy club or 2) any type of bar.
Do it yourself.
When I was 17 years old I fell in love with punk rock. I bought a guitar and before I knew it, I was in a band called The Kickball Champs. We were sh**, but we had a PA, a rehearsal space and a gas generator, and that will get you booked anywhere in the Nevada desert. We were lost when it came to harmony, melody and rhythm, but we knew how to put on a show. Our gigs in drainage ditches and abandoned mine shafts drew 300-400 ragged punk-rock kids every weekend, and we had the energy and confidence to make it seem like something akin to a concert. We knew what the kids wanted. We were tapped in.
Thanks to serious deficiencies in talent and the ever-present threat of police shutdowns, the band broke up. We all went our separate ways but have remained friends.
In 2008 I moved to New York City to continue down my new path as a stand-up, but I soon lost myself in the sludge of the business. Club comedy, once the coveted mainstream in the 1980s, become a parody of itself in the aughts. Stand-up was what I wanted to do with my life, but this was not the way I wanted to do it. To stay “in” at some clubs you have to kiss a**, glad-hand, pander, and simply do a lot of things that are not stand-up comedy. Everything felt like a waste of time and energy, and it wasn’t funny.
My comedian roommates and I saw comedy as fire: all it needs to burn is fuel and oxygen. Likewise, all comedy needs is a microphone, a low ceiling and enough people to fill the room. To test the theory, we booked a show in our own apartment. We kept everything as exclusive as possible, booking comedians based on talent as opposed to status, and restricting our target audience to intellectually curious comedy fans and people willing to see something different.
Fire! We sold the place out. Our apartment was small, but it served as the perfect conduit for what we would eventually be doing: taking back stand-up comedy.
*** Warning! This clip contains explicit language. ***
That was a year ago, October 2010, and we are starting to outgrow the machine. Crowds got too big for the apartment, so we’ve been booking boxing rings, warehouse basements and now – with the help of Brown Paper Tickets – Sorta Secret is going large. We’ve booked a pimped-out, top-floor suite at a nearby hotel. We might have to Scooby-Doo the concierge to smuggle 15 cases of Yuengling and enough equipment to outfit the Ghostbusters up the guest elevator, but that’s just what we do.
Saturday, October 15, we’ll be streaming the show live on SortaSecretcomedy.com, but don’t go telling everybody. Shhh, it’s Sorta Secret.