When you think of the best places in America to catch a live comedy show, a number of cities and locations instantly come to mind.
The Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard has long been a staple that produced many of the funniest people you’ve ever heard. The Comedy Cellar in New York’s Greenwich Village just last year included a Wednesday night lineup with names like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer and Dave Chappelle.
And those people paid $12 to see that show, plus two items from the menu.
But it’s not all that crazy to say that Chris Teicheira and the rest of his Deaf Puppies crew have made Manteca a niche market for accomplished comedians passing through from Los Angeles to San Francisco or between San Francisco and Sacramento when they book their regional swings.
Don’t believe me?
Turn on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon tonight. Wait until the man sitting in the chair once occupied by Johnny Carson and Jay Leno introduces a man by the name of Kiry Shabazz.
And then realize that earlier this year Kiry Shabazz, who won the 2017 StandUp NBC Competition, was one of the two accomplished comics that he had performing at String’s back in January (the other, Kabir “Kabeezy” Singh, won the 2015 San Francisco International Comedy Competition).
It seems like every month I’m getting a message from Chris Teicheira about the next comedy show that he has upcoming at String’s – a message that inevitably describes the comics that are coming to town as “killers.”
While much about Teicheira may be hyperbole – this is a man, after all, that fancies himself a fashion icon by wearing white button-down shirts with grey hooded sweatshirts beneath – he actually has transformed Manteca into a legitimate whistle stop for accomplished comics that wouldn’t otherwise perform for these crowds.
Take, for example, the trip that my wife and I took to Portland on the weekend that Teicheira hosted Shabazz and Singh and String’s. As we both like comedy, she booked tickets to go see a weekend headliner at Harvey’s in Downtown Portland. As we were walking in to be seated in the front beneath the stage (we sat in similar seats at The Comedy Cellar in NYC) I noticed a headshot on the wall that I had seen before.
It was that of Robert Duchaine, the traveling comic that just performed in Manteca, and whose picture I posted with a story announcing first show in Manteca a while back. I had a brief conversation with him when putting together something about his return to town, and shared with him that I had seen his picture in Harvey’s – on a wall that included the likes of Louis CK, Dana Carvey and Amy Schumer – and he told me about how he came up in Portland, and considers that his home club.
While Teicheira may give off the impression that he’s a fly-by-night free-wheeler, he has actually done something that nobody else has seemed to master in this town for some time now – created a legitimate nightlife scene through his and the Deaf Puppies’ extensive connections (a crew, it’s worth pointing out, that also includes Manteca’s own Jason Sohm).
Like it said, it seems improbable. But the proof will be there on your television tonight when you tune in to The Tonight Show.
I suggest that you do, just so you can say that you saw him here first.
Seriously, it’s not funny – at all
I think we should make a new rule.
Any Manteca Unified student, past or present, that ends up being found as the originator of messages threatening school shootings should have to sit down with the district administrators who have to deal with the fallout of such stupidity, and the parents who have to grapple with the decision whether to send their kids to school because they don’t know whether this one will be a hoax like all of the rest, or the one time they should have trusted their gut.
And then their parents should be charged with the cost of the investigation to determine the identity of those responsible, as well as the cost for increased security on campuses on the day in question.
Since what happened in Parkland, I’ve encountered a steady barrage of these stories on a local level that just defy conventional logic – ranging in severity from people who “heard” a rumor to actual threats of bodies hitting the ground.
And every single time something like that comes across the desk of an investigator, or an administrator, they have to respond like it’s as credible as somebody sending in a video of them loading their weapons and detailing where and when they’re going to be.
But each time that the police do invest that legwork, uncover who is behind the threat, and then arrest the person responsible and justifiably search their house, they uncover nothing but a story about how it was all a “joke.”
Guess what? It’s not funny.
One of the hardest parts of my day is dropping my kids off at school and not knowing what is going to happen to them. It’s a period of vulnerability that can’t be described until you’re experienced it – knowing that you’re leaving somebody else that you don’t know as well as you should the responsibility of taking care of your children.
And to exploit that for attention, or to get even with a principal or a teacher, or just because you’re bored and don’t have anything else better to do – whatever the “reason” may be, it isn’t good enough – is the utmost in selfishness.
I spoke to a district staffer who was trying to figure out the best way to handle some of the situations as they were unfolding, and there was a legitimate twinge of panic in their voice – the sense that this was more than likely a hoax, but what if?
What if somebody found a more creative outlet for their angst than to panic unnecessarily.
What if the penalties for such foolishness were in fact stronger, and came with a financial penalty that discouraged copycats.
We shouldn’t have to live in an age when parents don’t know when dropping off their kids if they’re going to be able to see them smile ever again.
Don’t exploit that.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.