I Went to a Weed Comedy Show. Here's What Happened.
Since I have recently decided to jump ship and leave my corporate gig to start anew in the cannabis industry, I have been searching for local cannabis events to attend. I intend to throw myself into the culture, mindfully record what I experience along the way, and network with people from across the industry. With this in mind, I have been keeping my eyes peeled for cannabis-related events taking place throughout the Puget Sound region. At this point, since I am recently self-employed (or, well, un-employed, depending on how you look at it!), the cheaper the event, the better. :)
Toward that end, I was reading through the “Weed Events” portion of the Seattle Stranger and came across an advertisement for an upcoming comedy show where the comedians get high. Well, you had me at “high”. I quickly navigated to the event’s Facebook page which billed the show as such, “Stand-up comedians take to the stage and tell their BEST jokes, then they go to an undisclosed location to get WAY too high, only to come back to the stage and ATTEMPT to tell more jokes completely baked”. Awesome. The combination of two things I adore - comedy and cannabis.
The Gateway Show
So, on a gray but luckily rainless Seattle Thursday evening, I took public transit to Capitol Hill to attend the Gateway Show. The show was at Bites of Bangkok on 15th Ave, a restaurant with thai drinks and cocktails. In a foolish and bold move, I didn’t purchase a ticket online ahead of time. The day of the show, I received a Facebook notice saying the online tickets had sold out and that 15 tickets would be available when doors opened. So, like the Type A person that I am, I was first in line when doors opened. I decided to sit in the 2nd row of the audience so that I could be close to the action, but not too conspicuous to be a part of the typical audience banter. Of course, nobody else sat in the front row, so I had the best view in the house.
The host of The Gateway Show was very funny and did a great job of pitching the structure of the show: essentially, 3 comedians would come on stage and share a few of their best jokes. Then, there would be a 20 minute intermission, during which the comedians would get really, really high backstage. He was clear about the fact that they weren’t going to just take a few puffs, no - he committed to the audience that the talent was going to get, in their own words, “really, REALLY high”. After imbibing, the three comedians were going to come back on stage, and share more jokes. Of course, the whole of the audience only had one, pointed question, “when the talent smokes, can we?!” While he could not outwardly suggest that we smoke weed out on the street, yes… there wouldn’t be any issue if we all went outside and used responsibly outside. Again, the word that comes to my west-coast brain is simply: awesome.
I liked all three of the comedians that were featured in the Gateway Show. Two of the comedians were women (because yes, women can be hilarious, too) Becky Lynn and Rachel Walls, and there was one guy, Michael Cella; Becky and Michael were from Sacramento and Rachel is from Seattle. Of course, one of the benefits of having a weed-based comedy show is that the comedians can orient to their audience and share cannabis stories. Weed has a funny way of humbling you when you smoke it, and so recounting stories about a smoke-sesh gone wrong are all too relatable… because we’ve all been there!
The concept of the Gateway Show is so simple, but very entertaining in practice. I attended the show by myself, and while I thought this might cause me to be self-conscious and put a damper on the evening, it didn’t at all - the event was so captivating that I honestly had a great time. As an audience member, you get to personally witness the transition of the comedians after the intermission. I would say the jokes are inherenty less clever post-intermission, and all three comedians needed to use notecards to remember their jokes, but it didn’t matter. The audience was in such high spirits that there was laughter all around, even if the laughter was solely because the comedians were so high, to the point of being low-functioning. But they all did a great job. I felt for the last comedian, Rachel, when she confessed that she still had to go to work to her office job the next day. Nevertheless, it was clear that she had devoted her body to the Gateway Show and hadn’t held back during half-time - such commitment to the craft!
One of the best aspects of the evening is that right before intermission, the show host asked the audience to interact with a prompt, “what is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done while high?” Audience members were to text their responses to the host, and he would read them after the intermission. The results were amazing. About 20 people responded and the host read through their embarrassing, grounded, vulnerable stories while the audience sighed and cheered throughout. This was probably the best part of the show because we got to rehash our shared experience of getting a little too silly with close friends when we were younger - who doesn’t smile at that thought?
Weed Fosters A Sense of Community
Besides the sheer entertainment, I can tell you that one positive aspect of the show was the sense of community that it offered. Although I didn’t know anyone performing or attending the show beforehand, I’m going to come off as a hippy and say that I left the show feeling warm and fuzzy because I had spent several hours laughing with like-minded people. There is just something about “smoking weed” that can bring total strangers together; mutual love of cannabis and cannabis culture somehow instantly freezes the awkward feeling that can come with being around people you don’t know.
One of the best lines I heard during the evening was something uttered by someone behind me in line before the show started. “What’s great about this crowd”, he said, “...is that everybody here smokes weed”. I smiled upon hearing this, because it was so obvious, but so true! My first thought was, “how chill”. From my experience, being around people who are cannabis users means that I am able to enjoy an easy-going, friendly, non-violent, usually low drama evening.
The host of the Gateway Show also commented on this unique scenario once the show began. He mentioned that he has hosted many different comedy events throughout the Pacific Northwest, but without a doubt, the audiences at the Gateway Show are always the “nicest” and most supportive - particularly useful, he said, for when the comedians get too high. He recounted a time that he had inhaled his first dab before the 2nd portion of a prior Gateway Show, and he then experienced a brief moment of ego death before he realized, “Shit, I have to get back on stage in two minutes”. However, he mentioned that even in his post-dab frenzy, he knew that this was the best audience he could be in front of in that state - an audience that is chill, friendly, supportive, and would have his back.
This isn’t the first time i have experienced finding random connection with strangers through cannabis. I remember back to my very first week in college when a cannabis social “connection” caught me by surprise. At the beginning of my freshman year, I went through the right-of-passage of decorating my first dorm room. I had, of course, gone overboard at Urban Outfitters so my side of the room had a cozy, bohemian, fabric-heavy vibe, complete with a large mandala tapestry above my bed and a Hendrix poster on the wall. So cute. Anyway, the day after we moved in, I went out to lunch with my family, leaving my new roommate to herself. During this time, our new male neighbor from the room next door poked his head in into the room, looked at my side of the room, and said, “so, does your roommate smoke weed?” She indicated that she wasn’t sure, to which he replied, “well, sorry to be the one that tells you, but she smokes weed”. When I returned, my roommate recounted this story for me and I went to meet this neighbor… and we quickly became friends.
Cannabis, somehow, just does this. It melts the tensions or innate mistrust we have about other people, allowing us to create meaningful connections and enjoy the moment with peers, familiar or new. Especially in Seattle, a city known for its “Seattle Freeze”, this effect is remarkable. The typical Seattleite sticks to themselves and doesn’t speak to others unless spoken to, but during the intermission of the Gateway Show, this wasn’t the case. During a 20 minute intermission, I met a girl with the same affinity for floral prints as me, another man who fishes for pollock in Alaska, and another woman who, like me, had also recently decided to become a professional writer and is about to move to China to write an anthology of her family history. She let me share a joint with her on the street. Compare that to just a few hours before, when I had stood on the very same street prior to the show to use my PAX vape pen. During those first ten minutes outside, though there were probably 50 people in my vicinity during that time, walking past, none of them looked at me, and I didn’t look at them.
While there are so many smart and interesting people around us, we are often robbed of knowing their stories simply because we don’t see the opportunities around us to foster real connections. But, I have some optimism: my theory is that cannabis can help us to overcome the disconnections between us. As I attend more and more cannabis-oriented events, I will continue to write about how cannabis can help to foster stronger community through a mutual understanding that everyone innately shares the same values (shelter, prosperity, safety for themselves and family, and so on). This phenomenon is worth noting because of the implications this could have on the rest of society. Lately, doesn’t it seem like more connection between people is exactly what we need?
In the meantime, if you get the opportunity to go a comedy show where weed is involved, do yourself a favor and go! It’s a great time, and cannabis pairs so well with levity and people looking to laugh. May laughter, hilarity, and a sense of mutual understanding ensue.