Dry Bar Comedy delivers harmless humor in a compromised culture


These are dark times, but we need some weird relief, if only to keep our sanity.

Dry bar comedy isn’t for everyone. If you’ve been craving swear words, filthy jokes, and political commentary to “wake up”, skip this up and coming comic book production company based in Utah.

On the other hand, if you want to watch savvy comedians do their stand-up art without the obnoxious elements, Dry Bar is the way to go. It’s part of a rapidly growing counterculture amid an explosion in online entertainment.

In 2020, Americans spent more than $ 30 billion on digital amusements, according to Statista.com, up 21 percent from 2019. The COVID-19 economy, protected locally, was undoubtedly responsible for much of the increase responsible.

But a little-reported phenomenon is the rise of a non-Hollywood entertainment genre that appeals to Americans who are tired of the violence, sex, and swear words in most Hollywood products.

Some pro-religious, family-friendly viewers are ditching Netflix and Prime Video and turning to religious, family-friendly competitors like INSP, UP, VidAngel, and PureFlix, according to Chris DeVille, who writes for The Atlantic.

For years, Christians and others have been building an alternative society under the radar of the media, with schools, books and films that convey or at least do not violate traditional values. But only recently has the quality of production in the film and television genre increased exponentially.

Just because something is harmless doesn’t mean it lacks depth or sophistication. Dry bar comedy is a challenge for comedians for two reasons: they have to resist the temptation to indulge in cheap, dirty humor, and they have to laugh from a clean audience (Provo is home to BYU) that didn’t exist with alcohol lubricated. The material has to be fun, period. No excuses.

Filmed in a non-alcoholic former bar in Provo, Utah, Dry Bar is produced by VidAngel, a company dedicated to clean entertainment. The company’s best-known product is the ongoing series about Jesus, “The Chosen,” which has just completed its second, eight-part season.

The largest crowdfunded series in history, raised over $ 10 million, is streaming “The Chosen” for free in its own app and can be viewed on PureFlix. The series, which received more than 194 million views, was recently added to NBC’s Peacock Network, the first major secular airline.

Meanwhile, Dry Bar has found its own audience, with eight million followers on social media and two billion views since its launch in 2017, according to Keith Stubbs, a veteran comedian who books the acts.

Mr. Stubbs, who grew up in South Carolina, sums up his current life: “married, kids, happy.” As a former stockbroker with Paine Webber, he started stand-up comedy in Los Angeles in 1991 and traveled extensively. “I’m open for [Bill] Cosby in Salt Lake City. Cosby was very nice, and that was all before the terrible things happened. I’ve also opened for Jim Gaffigan, Joan Rivers, and country artists. “

In 1996, in addition to his appearances, he joined the management of comedy clubs. When the brothers Neal and Jeff Harmon, who founded VidAngel, opened the Provo Club in 2017, they brought in Mr. Stubbs because he was a comedian himself and “knew a lot of people in the business”. More than 300 comedians have since recorded dry bar shows.

The unique format enables people to “vote” for their favorite comedians in the app with tips and depending on the audience share. If the comedians stay family-friendly, they receive bonuses. In June, Dry Bar uploaded its entire library to its new app.

I asked Mr. Stubbs if keeping a record of the deeds would limit her calling on reputation. “That’s not a problem,” he said. “When viewers watch Late Night, Netflix, Comedy Central, when they watch Brian Regan, they want to watch those jokes again. Expecting anything new is like expecting the Eagles to play completely new material and not ‘Hotel California’. “

Comedy is just as subjective as music, he says. Some comedians get more laughs than others, but that often depends on the mood of the audience. A comedian can “kill” an audience and later fall flat.

“It keeps comics busy,” he said. “You could do the same thing, get laughed two hours ago, and now it’s no use. Could be the delivery, the environment. ”

How about a joke bomb? “You have to get out of a bad situation. Johnny Carson was great at it. “

Plans for the near future include resuming a dry bar comedy tour. “We’re introducing different dry bar comedians in different cities. We’ll go on tour again at the end of this year, ”he said.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of his job is providing a forum for earned comics that have not yet been discovered.

“A lot of comedians, for whatever reason, haven’t spent their day in the sun. I know some weird comedians who haven’t been seen before. [After being on Dry Bar], Her diaries are now full of theater and corporate appearances. It’s not that they weren’t funny before, but now they have a lot of people laughing at. ”

Does he ever have a problem with a comedian surprising the audience with blue material?

The short answer: no. “We’re pretty open about what Dry Bar is about.”

• Robert Knight is a columnist for the Washington Times. His website is roberthknight.com.

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