Local stand-up comedy is high risk, high reward—just ask a local comedy scenester. That’s one of the reasons why we’re so fired up for a truly good stand-up event thanks to Andrew Cahak and his new full-length album of material, Dracula. Along with Cahak’s set and sexy fresh vinyl record to scoop up, every opener at the release party can kill, whether they’re a comic or ripping band or host.
Ahead of Friday’s party—which is early, a bonus for many of you risk adverse to shows with 10 PM start times—we quick check in with Cahak about the bash, the bar, his questionable fast food selections and even more questionable musical knowledge:
Secrets of the City: The album release is, in fact, a party with goth punk comedy queen Courtney Baka, MJ Marsh (2018 Runner-Up in Acme’s Funniest Person in Minneapolis), funny person Chris Maddock, and riff lords Falcon Arrow. How and why did you assemble such a great show?
Andrew Cahak: Well, look, I don’t mean to toot my own but I am a 37-year old man and over the course of those 37 years I’ve managed to cultivate a friendship or two. MJ has been a pal since the day we met and a true talent from front to back. Courtney and I used to run a really fun comedy-bingo mash-up called Fresh Hell and I always love to work with her, and Chris Maddock, well, let’s just say the ol’ Mad Dogger owes me a favor or two and I fully intend to collect, in blood of necessary. Plus, Falcon Arrow rips so hard that I couldn’t not ask them. And let’s not forget Ian Rans hosting the whole thing like a goddamned boss. Any more killers on the show and we’d need to keep an ambulance on stand-by.
Why at Mort’s? We know why, we just want to hear you say it.
Mort’s was available. Just kidding, I love that space! I used to run around with bands back in my flaming youth so I’ve always loved doing comedy in places that usually have music acts. I think Mort’s stage is perfect for comedy, too. It’s big and open and has great sight lines. And, most importantly, I love getting groceries at The Wedge before the show.
You sing some Creed on your album. Talk more about that.
Look, I don’t like Creed. I’ve never liked Creed. I have friends that did back in 90s but I’ve always known they’re whack. The problem is, Creed is like a bad penny, I cannot get Creed out of my life, so, bregudingly, I’ve learned to accept that Creed will always be a part of my life. With arms wide open.
Comedians often get so caught up in their craft that they have to dissect every little tactical nuance of humor. Do you even—can you even—laugh any more?
I laugh all the time, it’s my favorite thing to do. My girlfriend and I say silly things to each other constantly and it brings me so much joy. And I love comedy as an art, too. If you do stand up, eventually you can sort of see The Matrix code on how to a joke works before the comic even finishes saying it but I still watch a ton of comedy just for fun. I think Michelle Wolf is an absolute beast and Roy Wood, Jr. is another comedian I can’t get enough of. There are also comedians in town who just destroy me (three of them are on the release show). So yeah, I’m a huge fan of stand up comedy. I’m just not a fan of MY* stand up comedy. It’s too dark and I don’t think it’s funny at all.
You’ve got not one, but two, existential bits about Arby’s that may or may not be real. What’s your Arby’s go to (Big Montana?) or pro tip for ordering?
I’m so glad you asked. For many, many years, maybe even decades, I was all about the Chicken Bacon Swiss (AKA The CBS), hold the honey mustard, add horsey, but in recent years, they’ve changed their buns in a way I think was ill-advised so I’ve found myself exploring the roast beef end of the spectrum. The French Dip with Swiss is a private joy but I think the secret champion of the Arby’s menu is the Arby Melt. For my money, you can’t beat it for complex flavor in a simple package. All that having been said, the real beauty of Arby’s is their willingness to expand the possibilities of what you can and should do with meat sandwiches in the fast food space and, I think, they should be applauded for that. The best pro-tip I can give you is everything is permitted, nothing is sacred. Get nasty.
*That’s a lie, I’m my own biggest fan.
“Throughout high school and college, I was involved in the local punk-rock scene,” he explains of his origins before comedy. “When the band I was managing imploded, I felt like I needed to do something... One night I spontaneously wrote a joke in my notebook, and then I wrote a few more. I figured it was time to try my hand at actually performing these jokes. That was eight years ago.”
This week, Cahak is releasing his debut comedy album, Dracula, and he’s keeping his punk-rock cred by breaking nearly every norm along the way.
For starters, he decided to record the album in a studio with no audience, as opposed to the more traditional live performance-style.
“Usually a comedian would record a standup album at a comedy club or maybe a bar. I love comedy records that were made at those kinds of places but I didn’t really want to do that,” Cahak explains. “Sometime in the summer of 2016, I was a guest on a podcast recorded by Tony Williamette at Minnehaha Recording Co. and it was a really positive experience. I wanted to do something else with him. I think the right recording studio is a magical place, and Tony’s space is great. So we decided to set up some folding chairs in his live room and see what would happen. It turned out great.”
He also made the unconventionally decision to release the album exclusively on vinyl.
“Releasing the album on vinyl was always the priority for a couple of reasons,” he says. “With a physical medium like vinyl, the listener naturally has a more personal and immediate relationship with it. You’ve got to get up half way through and flip the thing. It should hopefully push the listener to give it more consideration, and not just throw it on in the background while you do dishes or something.”
As for the release party, Cahak has foregone the usual comedy haunts and instead decided to host the bash at Mortimer’s. In addition to a performance by Cahak himself, along with a solid lineup of comics including MJ Marsh, Chris Maddock, and Courtney Baka. The show will feature music from Falcon Arrow and will be hosted by Ian Rans.
“Doing it at Mortimer’s makes me super happy; I think that space is kind of perfect for comedy, and I live in Uptown, so it just felt right to do it close to home.”
Between the DIY attitude, the unconventional recording and release, and the eclectic lineup, Cahak is carrying some of his old punk-rock ways into the local comedy scene. And he hopes this is just the start.
“I like working with people and making cool things,” he says.
Biographical stand-up comedy is only successful if you like the persona of the comic. Cahak easily puts his audience in his back pocket by opening with material about having been a comic for seven years and having recently broken a mirror.
This is followed by another good bit about an open mic and meeting some of the clowns in the audience (no, real clowns). Although the material is good, Cahak leaves the listener on his appetite as he establishes these people were pretending to be clowns to crash a clown convention but he never reveals why they were doing so. Also, to be really picky, the name for a gathering a clown has to be “a miniature car of clowns”.
This stand-up comedy download album also includes an excellent if unwitting prank on his best friend that Cahak pulls in his wedding guest book. You would think there is no link between Jeffrey Dahmer and Kings of Leon but there is one.
The two-part bit on Arby’s left me a bit cold but that is mostly because I am not really familiar with Arby’s so the reference does not work for me.
I am a big fan of long form stand-up. The Knife is one such comedy routine. This 22-minute piece uses the formula of the incident getting comically out of hand: in this case, it is a series of email exchanges between Andrew Cahak and the manufacturers of the Red Ball professional bread knife. It is masterfully crafted.
Andrew Cahak Dracula closes with another long-form routine, Everything. It is an interesting bit where Cahak thinks about things on a regressive philosophical time line until he slips the rug from under your feet and turns it into something entirely different and unexpected.
Andrew Cahak Dracula is a stand-up comedy download definitely worth your comedy dollar.