Brett Hamil: We want to juxtapose the many different styles and vibes of comedy in a way that keeps the audience continually surprised.
Brett Hamil: "We want to juxtapose the many different styles and vibes of comedy in a way that keeps the audience continually surprised." Alex Garland

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The newly opened Clock-Out Lounge is not only giving Beacon Hill a boost in its live-music ecosystem (which has been almost non-existent, except for house shows), but it's about to enhance the South End's comedy scene, too—which could really use some high-quality, high-IQ laughs. Starting Wednesday, April 18, the venue will host Joketellers Union, a weekly event run by Brett Hamil and Emmett Montgomery, whose keen observational and absurdist humor, political satire, and improv skits have been cracking up crowds in this city and elsewhere for over a decade. The night will showcase local and touring comics—both established and on the rise—every Wednesday at 8 pm (21+, $7).

In an e-mail interview, Hamil (who heads the Seattle Process and Shadow Council political-comedy events) and Montgomery (who organizes the Magic Hat and Weird & Awesome variety shows) elaborate on what they have in store for Joketellers Union.

What is the format of Joketellers Union going to be?
Hamil: The show will consist of some of the best comics we know. We’re also planning to bring in a non-comic special guest to do something funny each week—musicians, writers, actors, and any other hilarious people who don’t normally get a chance to do stuff in this format. For the first edition we’ll have [former Stranger staffer] David Schmader as our “special guest with a special talent.” We also plan to accumulate numerous recurring segments and esoteric audience traditions as we go.

What’s your booking policy going to look like?
Hamil: In general, we want to juxtapose the many different styles and vibes of comedy in a way that keeps the audience continually surprised. There’s a whole mystical formula for that. We also definitely want to make sure women, people of color, queer, trans and nonbinary people are equitably represented on the show—to be honest, just having Emmett and me is a bit much already in the straight white guy department.

Montgomery: A good friend of mine once said that stand-up is about joke telling not joke asking, we will be booking comics that have figured out how to consistently command the stage with undeniable voices. The learning curve to get from a solid 5 to a great 10 is pretty steep, and we want to celebrate the folks who have made that journey.

Emmett Montgomery: A lot of what is happening [in local comedy] is feminist-led and there are some really amazing QTPOC folx who are bringing voices that Seattle stand-up didn’t have when I started.
Emmett Montgomery: "A lot of what is happening [in local comedy] is feminist-led and there are some really amazing QTPOC folx who are bringing voices that Seattle stand-up didn’t have when I started." Alex Garland

Are there any styles of comedy that you won’t showcase?
Montgomery: Shitty. We aren't going to book shitty comics that make people feel bad.

What is it about the weekly schedule that appeals to you?
Hamil: I’ve been looking for the perfect venue for a weekly show on the South End (where I live) for the past year or so. The Clock-Out is basically the dream version of what I envisioned. The great thing about a weekly show is that once you get it running, people know they can always drop in on Wednesday nights to see the best comedy in town, so it becomes easier to build up a rotating crowd of regulars. Also, the weekly schedule pushes you to keep coming up with new stuff—you’ve got to feed the beast. And finally, it’ll be a place where big-name visiting comics can drop in and do an unannounced set when they happen to be in town, wink wink.

Is there any sort of grand, overarching goal you’re hoping to achieve with this night?
Hamil: To stave off the feelings of alienation and doom?

Montgomery: Creative space in Seattle is an extremely limited resource right now, which is why having a new stage in town is so exciting. Being able to share my talented friends with the city I love is something I really enjoy having the opportunity to do.

Whom have you booked so far?
Hamil: We’re currently finalizing the first month’s worth of shows. Basically, we made a wish list and now we’re filling in the blanks.

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Montgomery: The interest in this has been pretty healthy, and just in the last week I’ve had comics I really enjoyed working with reach out from other cities.

As veterans of Seattle’s comedy scene, how do you feel about its health and talent pool right now?
Montgomery: I think Seattle has some really wonderful people telling jokes inside of it right now who are multi-talented, not just doing stand-up but also storytelling and improv and other types of performance. A lot of what is happening is feminist-led and there are some really amazing QTPOC folx who are creating space and bringing voices that Seattle stand-up didn’t have when I started. I feel like there are a lot of jokes being told right now that deserve to be heard.

Hamil: I’ve been doing standup for over 12 years in this town, and I’ve noticed it ebbs and flows. One thing that really makes it flow is when there’s a well-attended weekly show at a kickass venue that attracts a smart, dedicated audience and treats comics as paid professional artists. That’s like rocket fuel for a local scene.