If you’re reading this, then you probably already read Part 1 and Part 2 of the Getting to Know Clear Water Comedy series. But just in case you haven’t, here’s the basic gist:
Clear Water Comedy (CWC) is a group of hilarious stand-up comedians based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. They host a comedy show every Thursday night at The Plus (i.e. the most amazing restaurant, bar, and live entertainment venue in EC, which is owned by everyone’s favorite local celeb Benny Haas). In addition to their Thursday night gig, many members of Clear Water Comedy perform each Tuesday night at Open Mic, and run trivia on Wednesday nights.
In sum: they’re funny. They enjoy giving out hugs (cough, Cullen). They’re good people. And they have the biggest hearts ever. I guarantee you’ll love them and their stand-up routines.
In Part 1, I interviewed Cullen Ryan, Christina Wolff, and Ryan Anderson, and in Part 2, I interviewed Pher Sturz, Eric Christensen, Mackenzie Bublitz, and Ryan Kahl. This leaves us with two newer members—Wayne Dallman and James Pekol—as well as long-time members Peter Diedrick and Jordan James.
Wayne Dallman and James Pekol are still new to Clear Water Comedy, but you wouldn’t think that based off of their performances. Wayne hosted his first comedy show last February, and he performed at the Clear Water Comedy Fall Showcase this September. You can find both Wayne and James at Open Mic Night and at the Thursday night show on the reg. Peter Diedrick is another long-time member of the group who recently performed in the Clear Water Comedy Standup Getdown 4 at the House of Rock, as well as the Fall showcase.
Finally, there’s Jordan James. Jordan headlined for the first time in July, and he is one of the original founders of Clear Water Comedy; so, I’ll let him do the rest of the talking:
Q: Describe yourself in three words.
A: Pizza. Friendship. Hats.
Q: How did comedy start for you?
A: I met (fellow CWC comic) Christina Wolff kind of by accident at the Bon Iver show at Zorn Arena, and we started dating shortly thereafter (thanks, Justin Vernon!) and on our first date she told me about how she had tried stand-up in college and I thought that was super cool. I thought maybe it'd be a fun, spontaneous thing if we went to an open mic and I signed up and tried my hand at stand-up as a surprise on our second date. It went ok and I had fun so we started doing open mics together from then on. It's neat that my love for stand-up is tied to my love for Christina.
In hindsight, it was a doofus move to be like, "Hey, you know that cool thing you did in college and a few times since? Well... I bet I can do it too!' Kind of arrogant in retrospect, you know?
...At the time, it seemed romantic, though. Haha. Oh well. It all worked out. We're engaged now, so she likes me alright!
Anyways, that got longwinded so here's the TL:DR version: I got into stand-up for the same reason many guys do dumb stuff: to impress a girl.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Clear Water Comedy?
A: For sure my favorite thing is the people. The people I get to work with in CWC are my best friends and my second family and getting to know them and be in this with them is the best. Also the people who we book to come to EC! So many times, they turn out to be nice, fun, and great to meet and get to know. I love meeting new people and connecting over shared passions and CWC is definitely a facilitator of that. Getting to meet and/or work with comics I am a fan of or admire is super exciting too!
Lastly, the people who attend our shows; I've made lots of new friends with regular attendees and have felt so grateful at how many kind and supportive people have been there for CWC from all around the community.
Being in CWC has surrounded me with so many amazing and good people; that's for sure the best part about it.
...A close second, though, is just getting to bring a little more laughter and joy to this city. I'm very proud of that and I think it's a very important thing to do. Laughter makes life so much more worth living.
Q: What qualities do other comedians have that you admire?
A: The quality I admire and envy is the quality some comics have to transcend just being funny and speaks to the human experience in meaningful ways. They flip a switch and you go from laughing to really feeling something or thinking about something or seeing something in a new way. Laughter for the sake of laughter, being funny and silly and bringing joy to people is in and of itself a meaningful thing, but the folks who can build on that and add another level and hit you with some truth or be uplifting or touching is something I aspire to.
Check out Mike Birbiglia's Netflix special “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” to see what I'm talking about, or come see Stewart Huff the next time he's in EC. These two names immediately come to mind as examples of the quality I'm speaking of. Also, CWC's own Cullen Ryan. That dude has brought me to tears with his stand-up... both from laughter and from being super moving in what he talks about.
I aspire to be more like Mike Birbiglia, Stewart Huff, and Cullen Ryan.
Q: What process do you use to develop your stand-up material?
A: I draw mostly from my personal life and like to work experiences and stories from my life into what I talk about on stage. So when weird stuff or funny things or embarrassing things or interesting things happen to me I try to sit down with it and write it out and figure out a way to bring out the humor in it, write jokes and find punch lines for it, build an arc to it. I don't have a super refined process and I'm still learning. I really want to get my process down and become a stronger and more disciplined writer. That's my main goal for the next year or so of comedy.
Q: What’s a weird fact about you?
A: Hmm. One of my uncles grew up with Hall of Fame basketball coach Phil Jackson. I have another uncle who lived in John Wayne Gacy's neighborhood and met him several times too. Do these count? I have uncles who lived in proximity to notable psychopaths?
Q: Which Spice Girl do you most identify with?
A: Sleepy Spice. Is that one of them? I don't know their names but I'm definitely sleepy. I'm gonna go lie down right now in fact. G’night!
And that’s a wrap! Well, kind of. While this series is done, you still have plenty of opportunities to see Clear Water Comedy (and you really should see them). Below is a list of their upcoming shows; go to them, enjoy some half off apps and taps from The Plus (yes, you read that correctly: HALF OFF), and take some pictures to share with us at #CaptureEC
• Amateur Comedy Contest – 8 p.m. on January 5th at The Plus. Funniest performer gets $100! ($5 cover or $3 with student ID)
• Shane Mauss – 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 12th at The Plus ($10 cover)
P.S. If you’re interested in trying your hand at comedy, make sure you get to The Plus no later than 7:30 p.m. on January 5th for the Amateur Comedy Contest! If you can’t make it out, though, you can also stop by The Plus any Tuesday night from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. for Open Mic (drop in early to ensure your spot on the sign-up list)!
For more information on CWC and the Eau Claire comedy scene, check out their Facebook page!