Most professional standup comedians can spend months, even years, perfecting a solid 10-minute, 30-minute or one-hour act. But Dry Heat Comedy Club, Albuquerque’s only full-time comedy venue, is turning that practice on its head. It’s asking local comedians to prepare nothing but self-encapsulated, single-sentence jokes. These quick-hit comedians will then be asked to pit their best one liners against one another in “One Liner Madness.” In this fast-paced night of comedy, 64 comedians will go head-to-head in a bracket-style, single-elimination tournament. Audience applause determines which of New Mexico’s favorite performers advance, and who ultimately becomes the Albuquerque One Liner Madness Champion.
“Our first question was, Do we even have SIXTY-FOUR comedians locally to perform in a show like this?” admits Dry Heat co-owner Sarah Kennedy. “But as we started thinking through the people we’ve seen in Albuquerque and Santa Fe at shows and open mics, the list came together fairly quickly.” Among the contestants are veterans of the comedy scene like Curt Fletcher (Showtime, HBO), Josh Fournier (Altercation Festival), Zach Abeyta (2023 ABQ the Mag “Best of the City” winner), Sara Anne Meyers, Isabel Madley and more, as well as hungry new “up-and-comers” like Libby Tonning and Jake Otero. Some of Albuquerque’s favorite sketch artists and improvisers from Blackout Theater Company and The Show will also throw their hats into the ring for the event. Like Thunderdome: Two comedians enter, one comedian … gets voted out and goes to drink at the bar for the rest of the night.
Comedian Tyler Lovely is one of the folks who signed up for this madness. “To start, this show is going to be entirely ‘one liners,’ so its going to be a unique show,” says Lovely, who dayjobs as a DJ at The Hustle 101.3. “It’s also a competition, so I expect the pressure and intensity to be there—which can make for amazing comedy.” To prepare for a “normal show,” Lovely says he gathers his material “through things like chatting with my friends, chatting with girls, or through conversation at various bus stops. But with this show I want to be precise, I want my jokes to be as lean as possible and direct. I’m writing them with a fine pick comb and a lab coat, still at various bus stops.”
“This One Liner Madness competition has every comic in this town burning the midnight oil. I would equate it to training for the Olympics, but it takes more tenacity, endurance and discipline,” adds “up-and-coming” comedian Libby Tonning. “To amplify the madness, I have heard rumors that every participant will be completely naked, as was customary in the games of Ancient Greece.”
One Liner Madness, which is a regular staple of the New York comedy scene and has run in festivals all over the country, was originated by LA-based comedian, screenwriter and producer Emily Winter (a staff writer for Nickelodeon’s “The Girl Lay Lay,” a writer for The New York Times and a contributor to NPR’s Ask Me Another). The owners of Dry Heat Comedy Club, Kennedy and partner Kelli Trapnell, contacted Winter to bring her concept to the stage at Downtown Albuquerque’s Launchpad as a special event. Kennedy’s connection to Winter goes back to 2018 when she won a One Liner Madness competition herself in Queens, NY.
“I’m so excited to bring the show to Albuquerque! It seems like the scene here is thriving
and growing, and I know the comedians will bring the heat,” says Winter, who will serve as
host for the evening. “If you love jokes but hate sitting through long comedy sets, this show is for you. You control the show by voting who stays and who gets eliminated. Plus, there’s so many different types of comedians, so many jokes and so much joy and momentum. It’s my favorite show to host by far.”
Proceeds from the show at Launchpad will go toward licensing and starting up Dry Heat Comedy Club’s new small brewery, Callback Brewing, which will provide the club with the ability to offer regular beer sales at all of their comedy events, starting this summer. To celebrate the One Liner Madness winner, Callback Brewing will even custom craft a beer
in their honor.
“One Liner Madness” gets underway at 7pm on Sunday, Feb. 19 at Launchpad (618 Central Ave. SW). Tickets are $15 and available in advance at holdmyticket.com/event/409003.