See 50 Comedians Tell Their First Joke of 2019

Stomping Ground will host 50 First Jokes on Saturday.
Stomping Ground will host 50 First Jokes on Saturday. Danny Gallagher

It’s not uncommon to hear 50 jokes in one night at a stand-up comedy show. What is uncommon is to hear those 50 jokes spread across 50 different stand-up comedians. Stomping Ground Comedy Theater will be doing just that when they host 50 First Jokes on Saturday to ring in the new year.

Fifty comedians from all over DFW, consisting of the new-and-excited to the grizzled veterans, will appear at Stomping Ground to share their first joke written for the new year. Each comedian has one minute to perform their joke, before promptly passing the comedy baton to the next in line. There’s no restriction on the material other than to make it funny, and for the sake of the audience’s hourly babysitter fees, limit it to one minute.

Lindsay Goldapp, managing director of Stomping Ground Comedy Theater, was a fan of the format created by John F. O’Donnell, a New York-based comedian, and saw it as a perfect fit for their theater.

“This is our first year doing it,” Goldapp says. “It's done all over the country, and I thought it was a great idea and that Dallas should do, too. I hope to continue it every year as long as we don't burn the place down or anything.”

“It's done all over the country, and I thought it was a great idea and that Dallas should do, too. I hope to continue it every year as long as we don't burn the place down or anything.” – Lindsay Goldapp

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Comedians can be tough to nail down for a few dates at a time, so the task of both reaching out to, and having 50 comedians commit, would have been a challenge with months of notice. With the aid of Stomping Ground producer Diane Michelle, Goldapp began prepping the show in a slightly narrower time frame.

“Wrangling 50 comedians is insane,” Goldapp says. “And we did it in about a week because I texted Diane on Christmas Eve and said, ‘Hey I don't wanna freak you out but … I think I wanna do this 50 First Jokes Show so you and I are gonna book 50 comedians in a week. OK BYE BYE TALK AFTER CHRISTMAS!’ Fortunately she's great, and the comedians have all been really excited to hop on this wild ride.”

Michelle and Goldapp were able to quickly organize 50 First Jokes and lock down each slot with a comedian. It’s a testament to both their hard work and the relationship they have with the DFW comedy community that the show was able to solidify without requiring acts to go up twice to meet the 50 comedians needed. Michelle remembers her feeling of excitement turn to optimistic anxiety when Goldapp pitched the project.

“Lindsay actually approached me the week of Christmas,” Michelle says. “‘Hey, I'm really sorry, but look how fun this show 50 First Jokes looks.’ I told her it sounds like a fun, unique concept for a stand-up show, and we should bring it to Stomping Ground. Then I asked her when she wanted to do it, and she said, ‘Well, that's why I said I told you I'm sorry. I want to put it up Saturday, January 5.’ So we had less than two weeks to corral 50 comics. It's been nuts. We've had to contact over 50 of course because some had other commitments.”

Brian Breckenridge, one of the 50 comedians taking the stage at Stomping Ground, is no stranger to producing shows himself, making Main at South Side in Fort Worth a home for independent comedians looking to live the road life. He’s familiar with the format of 50 First Jokes and welcomes the challenge the structure of the show offers.

“A lot of my bits go over the (about) one-minute time limit allotted on the show,” Breckenridge says. “But I do enjoy the format and the spirit of 50 First Jokes and am really glad to see it being done in the DFW scene.”

See 50 First Jokes at  8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5 at Stomping Ground Comedy Theater, 1350 Manufacturing St. #109 (Design District). Tickets are $5 and up.
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