live comedy

How 45 Live Comedy Shows Got Their Names

Butterboy co-hosts Jo Firestone, Maeve Higgins, and Aparna Nancherla. Photo: Mindy Tucker

Comedy shows come in all shapes and sizes, from the simplest of stand-up showcases to the most elaborate of interactive spectacles. Independent shows are often started by comics looking to increase their stage time and become more connected to their local scene. But a successful show takes a lot of production, a bit of luck, and, often, a catchy name. In a busy city full of live entertainment, a clever title can be the key to drawing a crowd, attracting press attention, and maybe becoming a beloved local institution.

A show’s name can do many things — explain a premise, hint at a show’s style, or reveal a bit about a host’s perspective. Other times, it’s just stupid fun. But to the outsider, the titles can sometimes seem baffling. So we asked hosts and producers around the country how they came up with the name for their ongoing comedy show, and the answers make clear that there’s no right way to find success.


Sandbox: On Sandbox people can do whatever they want as long as it’s not traditional stand-up. I tell the crowd at the beginning of every show that they will see some failure since it’s experimental comedy. “How do we feel about that?” I ask. Then we all clap; we welcome failure. Some performers have never been on a stage before Sandbox, but after seeing the show they realize that no one is trying to stop them. It’s not an open mic, but if you ask to be on Sandbox and you agree to try something experimental, then I’m going to say yes. It’s a childlike comedy/art space with adult artists. That’s why we call it Sandbox — you can create whatever you want and you aren’t just allowed to play, it’s required. —host Rob Gagnon

That Time of the Month: The original concept for That Time of the Month was “What would happen if hypothetical TV network executives gave not one, but two, not men, but women, their own late-night show?” (This was a pre–Samantha Bee era). My co-creator Liisa Murray and I wanted to develop a show that consisted of an all-women lineup (to address the many comedy-show lineups and theaters that lacked gender and racial diversity), but also mocked the tropes and stereotypes associated with women. For example, we had a dumb joke that we were forced to promise the high-and-mighty network execs that we’d never host the show on our periods, to assure we’d make clear-minded hosting decisions. My roommate at the time, writer Jennifer Memmolo, suggested we called it That Time of the Month to capitalize on this bit, which fit perfectly with our monthly show (we’re too tired to do the show more than once a month). —host Meghan Ross

We’re Hiring: Our goal was to create a unique stand-up show with a catchy theme by incorporating not only stand-up, but sketch/character comedy and improv as well. After brainstorming a couple of ideas, we came up with We’re Hiring, in which we interview comedians based on funny résumés they submit to get “hired” at our fake company. We naturally came up with the show name We’re Hiring to match the job-interview theme. The title itself exists in the world of the fake corporation; it’s almost as if we are actually putting out a job-opening announcement. From the title, it’s not immediately evident why the event would be on a comedy-show schedule, so it piques curiosity. —hosts Elizabeth Spears and Sahana Srinivasan


The Gas: The Gas got its brand for three reasons. First, the venue is Great Scott, so the initials are G.S., one letter away from gas. And we used to proceed a dance night called The Pill, we figured “gas” and “pill” are two ways to administer medicine. Also, we thought it conjured the notion of laughing gas. More recently my friend Liam and I started what we refer to as “Greater Boston’s most confusingly named comedy show” 8 O’Clock at 730 at 730 Tavern. The name is really just the time and address, but it’s so confusing! —host Rob Crean

Mendoza Line: Since our show takes place at the Dugout Cafe, we wanted to give it a baseball-related name. We decided upon The Mendoza Line, which is a phrase stemming from a player from the ’70s and ’80s named Mario Mendoza. He was not the best hitter — he had a career batting average of .215 — but he stayed in the majors because he was great on defense. It became a running gag among players at the time that if your batting average starts to get around .210 to .220 then you’re flirting with the Mendoza Line and could get sent to the minors or released. We decided to call our show The Mendoza Line because it describes our lineups perfectly. While you’re not likely to see the biggest household names in comedy at our show, you’re going to see some really top-notch comedians from all over the country — all of whom we’ve deemed barely good enough at baseball to be on the show. —hosts John Baglio, Zach Armentrout, and Katie Qué


CAMP: A Comedy Show: We wanted it to feel like a summer-camp talent show — a place where friends have fun, share their talents, and support each other. When we started our show, we were both new to stand-up and producing, so having a supportive space to learn and grow was crucial. We hung out often at Village Tap. Their year-round beer garden is decked out with twinkle lights, picnic tables, and an open roof in warm weather, so our space has a built-in summer-camp aesthetic. —hosts Samantha Berkman and Tessa Orzech

The Comedy Bowl: As a comic I was tired of comedy shows in bars were comics played down their intelligence. I, like many comedians, have advanced degrees or higher-level education than they discuss onstage. Similarly, by nature comedians are inquisitive people and tend to be self-educators and know a bunch of random crap and are great at trivia! Okay, maybe that’s just me. Secondly, the venue that invited us to have a weekly comedy show is a restaurant that’s attached to a bowling alley. The bowl in bowling alley and the idea of a scholastic bowl competition with a stand-up-comedy component birthed the name The Comedy Bowl. —host Mona Aburmishan

Hot Dish Comedy: I came up with the name Hot Dish Comedy because I am from Minnesota and I love the taste of hot dish (specifically tater-tot hot dish). In Minnesota, no one says “casserole” — it’s just not a word we use, so it’s in homage to my upbringing. Also I think “hot dish” can be slang for fresh gossip or a hot take on something. Those reasons combined made me come up with the name. I wanted something unique! —host Merrit Landsteiner

Laugh Near Minimalist Furniture. Photo: Forest Strong LaFave

Laugh Near Minimalist Furniture: A Comedy Variety Show: The name Laugh Near Minimalist Furniture came from producing our first comedy show in an office building in downtown Chicago. We wanted a name that conveyed that it was a comedy show but in a nontraditional comedy setting. The minimalist aspect also fits our brand of performing comedy in sleek, nontraditional places. Initially, we thought it would be a name for just our first show given the location, but because it’s so hard to forget, it quickly became the go-to name for a recurrent show series we began running all over Chicago in similar venues — co-working spaces, distilleries, condo buildings, really anywhere that has modern minimalist furniture. —producer Vik Pandya

Wet Cash: The name Wet Cash came about when the four original producers of the show were hanging around and riffing. Someone said Wet Cash and we all laughed because it was such a weird pairing of words. From there, we thought it would be really silly to have a comedy show that literally gave away wet cash as a prize. It was hilarious to us that the cash winner would be largely inconvenienced by the reward. —producer Dan Muller


Deep Cuts at Jagged Mountain: We have a show called Deep Cuts at Jagged Mountain because it’s in the corner of the taproom at Jagged Mountain Brewery in downtown Denver, and often comics have to dig deep and do something big to get the crowd’s full attention. The idea was to feature comics that I felt have been overlooked, and three years into doing a monthly show there’s still a long list of great local comics I want to book. Malcontent Comedy is the name we gave our “production company” because it sounds better than “Harrison and his friends run comedy shows in Denver.” —co-host Harrison Garcia

Los Angeles

Blackberry Jam: All Diversity, No Shade: Tashi and Ellington met while doing stand-up in L.A. After doing a number of shows that would rarely, if at all, include diverse voices in the lineup and repeatedly hearing, “There just aren’t that many women of color doing stand-up that we can book,” they decided to call bullshit and put together a show that aims to provide a stage primarily for women, people of color, and members of the queer community in comedy — comics with dynamic and unique voices. While developing the show, Tashi called up her hilarious and quippy friend, Blake Cedric. She told him the show would be run by three black women and he immediately blurted out, “Oh! Blackberry Jam,” like it was the most obvious title in the world. And then Tashi asked, “Tag line please,” and even quicker he said, “All Diversity, No Shade.” And thus the show was born! —hosts Tashi Condelee and Ellington Wells

Dear Owen Wilson: So … in 2007, Owen Wilson had that suicide attempt, and I was so, so sad about it that I wrote him a letter telling him I hope he feels better and how much I loved him. I just couldn’t believe someone so great could feel that way, and I wanted him to know he was loved. Then I got into comedy later on and I remembered that I wrote that letter. I realized everyone has celebrities that they loved or were connected to growing up, and thus, the idea for Dear Owen Wilson was born. On my show, comedians read letters to celebrities they love onstage, and then I interview them late-night style afterward for seven or eight minutes. It’s a wild show where you get to see comedians in a completely different light. —host Blair Socci

Full Moon Comedy: We wanted to do a monthly show that merged our interest in the metaphysical and astrology with comedy. We were both stand-ups that wanted to do something different and create a space where people could explore all the “woo woo” shit in Los Angeles but do it with a sense of humor. We start with a guided meditation, give crystals to comics based on their sets, and have some sort of practitioner or expert talk about what they do in addition to the comedians. Ideally, we wanted it to happen monthly on the full moon as our own kind of “ritual,” but the crystal shop we were doing it at had their own stuff going on. We kept the name anyway because while we may not always do it on the actual full moon, it gives off the same general vibe. —co-host Lindsay Adams

Heavy Heavy Low Low: The name Heavy Heavy Low Low came about because the co-founders of the show, Chase Austin and Clare O’Kane, thought it would be a funny nod to their Bay Area roots. Heavy Heavy Low Low was a band from the Bay Area back in the early aughts. Chase and Clare grew up in San Jose and hit up their shows a bunch. I’m from San Francisco, but was very familiar with the macro Bay Area underground punk/hardcore/emo scene, so the first time I did the show I was like, “Yo, is this Heavy Heavy Low Low like the band?” And Chase was like, “Yeah.” And I was like, “Ha. That’s funny.” So the name is Chase’s idea, but we have been hit up by former members of the band asking about the name, and they gave us their blessings once they realized we weren’t making any money from the show. —co-host Jules Posner

How to Hate Yourself: Years ago, on a creative retreat, we were asked to write down our “limiting beliefs.” And all the deep-down thoughts I never wanted to acknowledge came pouring out of me. They sounded the way they sound in my head, as if they’re true. “You’re NOT pretty enough.” “You WILL never make it.” “Are you sure you want to have a party? It’s going to be SO embarrassing when no one comes.” When I read mine out loud, I couldn’t stop laughing and neither could anyone else. It’s scary kept silent, but absurd out loud. I called it my How to Hate Yourself voice (because when I listen to it, that’s pretty much what happens). Then I wanted to hear other comics share their stories. Everybody has that inner critical voice. It’s hilarious and healing to call it out (instead of keeping it inside, crying, and, you know, hating yourself). I mean, if “love yourself” worked, we’d all feel great by now, right? —host Laura House

Jetpack Comedy: We named our show Jetpack because it evokes a sense of kinetic energy — a burst of speed and upward movement. Our show’s goal is to introduce audiences to killer comics they wouldn’t normally see in traditional comedy venues; the smart, innovative weirdos. We want Jetpack to act as a launchpad for those weirdos’ careers. —hosts Peet Guercio and Geoff Plitt

Killer Unicorns: Back in 2015 when I started stand-up, I noticed a huge discrepancy between the indie stand-up scene and the club stand-up scene. As a queer woman with a very particular kind of humor, I didn’t usually feel super safe or happy at the clubs for various reasons. That is when I decided to start my own indie show where I could get the best talent and make it a safe space where everyone would feel included and have the best time ever. As a queer woman, I thought “Unicorns” was appropriate, and the “Killer” part came in as an added yang to the yin. Unicorns are soft, beautiful, mythical creatures, and killers are the complete opposite. But you put the two together and it’s so powerful because it shows strength and softness, and that’s what our show is all about — knowing you can be strong in your softness, knowing you can be authentic and speak your truth without shame. —co-host Julia Pels

Sabrina Jalees performs at Killer Unicorns. Photo: Rebecca Aranda

The Last Show in the World: Robbie Bruens, who created the show, named it The Last Show in the World because he had just gone through the breakup to end all breakups, wound up being quasi-homeless, and realized everyone around him also felt like the world was coming to an end. Having gone through similar things in the past myself (depression, being homeless, and escaping an abusive relationship), the grim title spoke to me. I think for a lot of people, comedians or not, comedy is a way out of the darkness. We plan to do The Last Show in the World every Wednesday until the world ends (so hopefully at least till 2020). —co-host Georgea Brooks

Lemon Comedy LA: Lemon Comedy is a live comedy night that came about as a sister project to my comedy-sketch channel, Melon Comedy. I set up Melon Comedy because we run out of Melbourne and London, and we make cause-powered comedy films about the melancholy things of life. It’s also a female-fronted collective (though we also have a lot of key collaborators that don’t have melons). Melon is an anagram of our live night, Lemon Comedy. It’s also a tongue-in-cheek nod to a reference to an old classic poster by Bill Bernbach, for Volkswagen — “lemon” about their less-than-perfect cars being cast aside feeling like a lemon. It’s a nod to the idea of being made to feel left out just for not being the same. We like to present acerbic comedy that makes sweet lemonade out of life’s bitterest lemons. Maybe one day we will merge the two brands, but I’m not sure which way that would go. Or maybe we’ll do the opposite and branch out into avocado or something. How do you like them apples? Oh God, the puns are endless. —producer Lorelei Mathias

Tales of Folly: The original title of the show was Boys Will Be Boys: Tales of Male Folly. It was meant to be a spit take — a tongue-in-cheek examination of male stupidity, totally embracing men as a lesser sex. However, after some careful consideration, as the fires of the #MeToo movement were heating up, we dropped the “Boys Will Be Boys,” and just called it Tales of Male Folly. It became a way for us to poke fun at ourselves and take responsibility for what we represented. After the last two years, though, none of that was even enough. Total inclusivity has become the only true way to host a creative revolution, so we changed our name to Tales of Our Folly, and now we address the foibles and shames of humankind. If we can be ashamed together, we can rise up together. —host Joe Tower and producer Brian Weiss

That’s Gold: Pretty simple reason, actually. I originally wanted to call it That’s Gold, Jerry! as a tribute to one of my favorite Seinfeld characters, the annoyingly hacky yet still lovable Kenny Bania. But, in the end, we ended up just going with That’s Gold! It’s a decision I regret every single day. —co-host Karl Hess

New York

Awkward Sex and the City: Long story short, I was obsessed with Sex and the City as a teenager. It was the first time I got to really see New York and I just fell in love with the whole idea of NYC, sex, and love. I have a mom who was (and is) very open about sex and women getting their “O’s,” so I knew a lot about sex at a young age, too, even though I wouldn’t have sex until my 20s. But, I’m awkward. Super awkward. With everyone. Women, men, friends, bosses, and Sex and the City was missing my brand of awkward. So that was it basically. Anyone who performs tells an awkward sex, dating, and/or relationship story, so everyone can be like, “Whew! It’s not just me!” —host Natalie Wall

BackFat Variety: Back fat is typically seen as a shameful body part, so promoting it in big, bold letters felt like a fun and funny reclamation. Also, as a show that used to be hosted by two women, we were thrilled that the name really struck a chord with other gals. Men kept calling it “FatBack” and women would roll their eyes and tell them, “BackFat!” Since 2012, men have seemed to learn the name, and now I even co-host with a man. I’ve never bothered to ask him if he likes the title. I never will. —co-host Emily Winter

Butterboy: Whenever I’m working with comedians to name a show, I do what any good producer would do: Create a shared Excel sheet. I suggested Jo [Firestone], Aparna [Nancherla], Maeve [Higgins], and I start by just dropping a bunch of words and phrases into a document and seeing what jumped out at us. Between us, we had 85 potential show names. Once we had the list of suggestions, I made each of us a column in the Excel sheet and we put Xs next to our favorites. Why Butterboy? I’ll have Maeve explain: “‘There’s butter in her blood’ is an Irish phrase that translates roughly as ‘A Queen but an elected one,’ so I guess that’s why I was attracted to the name. Jo added boy because she loves boys, and Aparna brought it all together.” —producer Marianne Ways

Butterscotch: Originally, we wanted to name the show “White Keenan” for inside-joke reasons. But Butterscotch speaks to us because the comics are smooth like butterscotch and old like the candy in a grandma’s purse. The beautiful, well-planted window at Greene Grape Annex that you can see the performers onstage through is the “purse.” We are so sorry for this corny description but this is who we are. —hosts Maria Heinegg and Courtney Fearrington

Don’t Tell My Mother: Growing up with an overprotective Jewish mother, she would always say, “You can tell me anything.” The translation being, “You have to tell me everything.” And I did — the first time I kissed a boy, when I lost my virginity, and that time I got to third base in Israel (true story). It wasn’t until 11 years of therapy that I learned most people had plenty of things they didn’t tell their mothers. I thought it meant they had “secrets,” but it turned out, they had “boundaries.” Coming from a crazy, dysfunctional family, I love stories, and I started to ask people about the stories in their life that their mom doesn’t know. The answers were astounding: theft, sex, drugs, stealing a brick of cheese and hiding in a bathroom. I was blown away! So I put together a night where people could tell those stories. —host Nikki Levy

Drunk Science: We’re sure there are some shows that are hard to name. Ours was not. The show’s premise is that intoxicated comedians compete to present scientific dissertations to real scientists, which was somewhat inspired by Comedy Central’s Drunk History. We used the name Drunk Science casually among the three of us during the initial phases of planning, but always figured we’d change it. But when it came time to announce the show, nothing explained the concept as succinctly as the first idea. And, yes, we’ve noticed a trend of shows being named “Drunk + Whatever Subject.” We get it. People love to be drunk and people love subjects. The only name that might be a better draw would be Feel Like You’re on Mushrooms in the Good Way, Also Free Pizza. —hosts Shannon Odell, Joanna Rothkopf, Jordan Mendoza, and Ernest Myers

Everyday Decisions With Jo Firestone: When I’m trying to name a show, I try to make it as explicit as possible what it’s gonna be right in the title, so people can know what they’re in for. A big inspiration: Disney on Ice. The whole title, three words, very explicit. Don’t like Disney? Afraid of ice? Not going to that show. So Everyday Decisions is a show about all the decisions people make throughout their day, like what time they got up, how they got out of bed, do they brush before or after breakfast, stuff like that — the choices people make daily without even questioning them. All that being said, I host a weekly show called Butterboy and it beats me what people expect going to that show off the title alone. Probably something very sexual, or maybe they hope there’ll be a shortbread-cookie giveaway. —host Jo Firestone

It’s a Guy Thing: The title came about because we are all very passionate about elevating cis white men and giving cis white men and the noble people who support them a platform to talk about “guy” stuff. JK. The sincere answer is that we were newer to New York comedy and wanted to make a lighthearted, inclusive space where our friends could make fun of the notion that comedy (or anything else, for that matter) “belonged” to men and to make fun of how stupid toxic masculinity is and can be. Mostly now it’s a place for us to sing silly songs and showcase our favorite comedians. We love it! —hosts Mitra Jouhari, Catherine Cohen, and Patti Harrison

Oh, Such a Good Show, Oh!: I mainly wanted a title that conveyed just a really incredible, lighthearted, and super, super-dumb show, with no limitations in what it had to be from month to month. I thought it would be funny to have the show title also be a stupid sentence, and be married by double “Oh’s” to really maximize that fun for myself. I feel stupid saying the show title out loud to anyone or during the show, which is perfect for me. —co-host Ethan Beach

Ziwe Fumudoh at Pop Show. Photo: Mindy Tucker

Pop Show: In April, I recorded and performed my first song ever called “Ponderosa With Omarosa” while guest-hosting John Early’s Showgasm at Ars Nova. It was such a surreal experience to perform a pop song for a comedy audience that I was inspired to explore this creative avenue. As a child I wanted to be two things: the first black president of the United States — a dream that Obama has firmly crushed — and a pop star. All of this prompted me to build a show where I could be a pop star for an hour once a month. Then, I started tossing around names. I considered Pop Icons, then there was Pop Star, but this is already a movie with Andy Samberg and not great for my SEO hustle, so finally I decided on Pop Show, which delivers exactly what it promises. —host Ziwe Fumudoh

The Scientists: Madelyn has always wanted to have a science podcast, is really into “the truth” as a thing that is real, and is also really into cognitive biases and fallacies. Blythe primarily just wanted to do a show with Madelyn, but as a nerd was also excited about the idea of doing homework. So we decided to do a show about the scientific search for truth, and how science is complicated by humans getting in their own way. Originally we thought we’d name it The Truth, but apparently that’s a podcast. At some point the phrase “invisibilia but for dogs” was thrown around, and even though we have no idea what specifically we meant, it still feels emotionally true. Eventually we gave up and settled on the name The Scientists, the joke being that neither of us are scientists. —co-hosts Blythe Roberson and Madelyn Freed

See You in Hell!: Originally the name of the show was chosen arbitrarily like any other run-of-the-mill stand-up show: Pizza Fart Jack Off Hour! Good name for a show, but it’s always just a handful of comics doing ten-minute sets. We thought, If the show is called See You in Hell, why not make it a themed show where the concept matches up to the name? So now we take the stage in devil horns and present ourselves as Hell recruiters who work for Satan. We have four comics doing shorter sets and then we join them onstage for an interview to find out their most depraved thoughts and behavior: “Tell us about the last time you shoplifted …” “If you had to kill one member of your family, who would it be?” We’ve had comics reveal some pretty insane stuff because we set it up like Heaven is for squares and Hell is the place to be. We make it a safe space to be a monster, and then the audience ultimately votes to see who has earned their place in Hell. —co-host Doug Smith

Vintage Basement With Max & Nicky: The name came from the sort of neo-retro style with which the show, and our own personal act, is imbued. We’ve always been fond of ’60s variety shows à la Andy Williams, Carol Burnett, and the Smothers Brothers, when everything was well-organized, well-rehearsed, professional, classy, heartfelt, funny, neato, crazy, curly, wet, swollen, bike-riding, horseback riding, long walks on the beach, etc. The commitment and care put into those shows inspired us to create an updated version of all that. The atmosphere is vintage: We always wear classic slim-fitting suits with thin ties, and we always bookend our show with two oldies tunes or jazz standards that have a timeless appeal. We welcome that the word vintage indicates something old-fashioned, yet hip and vital within the context of modernity. Like an old man that just had hip-replacement surgery, who now feels like a revitalized post-modern woman in the modern world. —hosts Max and Nicky Weinbach

Max and Nicky Weinbach at Vintage Basement. Photo: Mike Bryk

You’re the Expert: From the beginning, the show was always three comedians trying to guess what a scientist does, so I wanted a title that somehow referenced academia. But it’s also a comedy show, and I wanted audience members to buy tickets, so I knew I had to avoid a name like Difficult Homework or Unpleasant Learning Situation. What sold me on the name You’re the Expert is that it’s a colloquial phrase I can imagine a comedian actually saying in a friendly back-and-forth. Ironically, in all the years I’ve hosted the show, I don’t think a comic has ever said it to the expert, but dozens of people have smugly said it to me and then winked. I made a terrible mistake. —host Chris Duffy

Yourself, Your Body: The show is inspired by Hélène Cixous’s essay “Laugh of Medusa.” Cixous, in this piece, urges women to write in order for their stories to be placed and pushed into history after being continually silenced. The moment in the piece that moved me was when she writes, “Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself. Your body must be heard.” Through this I developed the idea of a show where people from diverse backgrounds and marginalized communities come together to share our stories in an effort to undo shame and make an effort to dismantle hegemonic violent stereotypes about bodies and health … but … with comedy! —host Arti Gollapudi


The Alliance: [Co-host] Corina pitched a bunch of names, one being The Gay Straight Alliance, and another just as The Alliance. Gay Straight Alliance sounded too much like a high-school club, but I liked The Alliance a lot. It sounds so much tougher than comedy deserves to be, so I think we both were really into that. The poster we had made matches perfectly, it looks like a New Age Soviet propaganda piece. —co-host Jake Silbermann

Earthquake Hurricane: My original co-founders and I spent weeks kicking around names, looking for something that sounded badass but also nonspecific. I believe it was Anthony Lopez who suggested Earthquake Hurricane, and it made us all laugh because it’s just so over-the-top. It worked well enough until we were on tour and did a show in New Orleans, where the name is objectively less funny. During our regular live shows, we use a bucket with the name on the side to accept donations, and more than once we’ve had somebody see it and toss a few bucks in without knowing it was for a little comedy show and not, you know, helping people. —co-host Alex Falcone

I’mma Leave You With This: The name I’mma Leave You With This has two meanings that relate to each other. Firstly, it references a phrase you often hear comics say in some way or another before they do their last joke and wrap their set. My partner Coor Cohen and I always found it funny when comics would say it because it’s like the stand-up equivalent of a band announcing to the audience that they are about to play their last song. Secondly, ILYWT occurs every Saturday at midnight, which makes it the last comedy show of the week. If you think of all the other weekly shows happening in town like a comedian’s set list, our show is the Portland comedy scene’s version of letting everyone know we’ve got one last show for you before we wrap the week. —co-host Riley Fox

San Francisco

Cheaper Than Therapy: We came up with the name as a twofold homage to the art of stand-up. Yes, laughter is the best medicine, so what you’re getting as an audience member is actually cheaper than therapy, but it’s also really for the comics. To stand up on stage, in front of strangers and be yourself, to make light of your own faults and mistakes, and to learn to own that are exactly the safe space that a therapist offers, we just give it to ourselves instead. So, for us as comedians, this is a way to stay sane without having to pay a therapist. Boooooyah, found a loophole in the system and saved a bunch of money! —producer Jon Allen

Laughgasm: I feel like comedy shows need a catchy name that also gives a feel for the nature of the show. The name Laughgasm was chosen because it both describes the feeling of laughing so hard that you’re overwhelmed just like an orgasm, but also because it suggests a sexual nature that can let an audience know what kind of show they should expect. —producer Andrew Holmgren

The Setup: The first reason is because a joke is made of two parts, the setup and the punch line. Well, there’s already a club called the Punch Line, so we went with The Setup. The second reason is more pretentious. When a joke goes from an idea to the finished form it goes through a huge evolution. Sometimes the final joke is nothing like the original impetus. In a way, that process, or “the setup,” is so much more important than the end result. We sell a shirt at the club with a Rube Goldberg design that shows an idea being transformed into a comedian going onstage. —co-host Richard Sarvate


Losing It: Grief Comedy: “Losing It” is one of those delightful idioms that means far too many things. In this case, I wanted to conjure the dichotomy of cracking up so hard that milk squirts out of your nose, and the loss of grief. It debuted at Good Mourning: An Interactive Arts Festival About Grief. When asked to put together a comedy show for a grief festival, I jumped at the chance. Sometimes at an open mic, you’ll see a really great comedian try something that hits a little close to home. It could be a joke about their dead dad or their addicted sister or a health scare — but it’s true, and it’s processed, but it’s about grief. Most of the audience sucks in their breath and makes the dreaded “aww” sound of misguided compassion, but there’s one or two people cracking up. Maybe those people have a dead dad or an addicted sibling or have faced a health diagnoses that scared them — they’ve been there, so they know how funny that “sad” bit is. By priming a space to be a place for grief comedy, we put the audience on the same page as the comics. We were all there knowing these were jokes, knowing we were okay, and knowing we needed to laugh together. —host Claire Webber

Socially Inept: Socially Inept: A Tech Roast is a show in Seattle (and soon to be in San Francisco) where people who work in tech volunteer to get roasted by professional comedians (some of whom also work in tech). The show focuses on roasting these volunteers as well as the city’s tech scene as a whole. The show is called Socially Inept because a lot of engineers and people working in tech have the reputation of being socially inept and awkward. It seemed fitting to name a tech roast show after a big roast-able characteristic that most of these people share. —host Austin Nasso

How 45 Live Comedy Shows Got Their Names