Comedy fans should know about these two Kickstarters

The best Kickstarters aren’t just pleas, they’re opportunities. Best are the ones with perks that match your passions. They are a serendipitous way to be part of a project that is in sync with your dreams. I recently heard about two campaigns that hit these marks for comedy fans.

The American Bystander #2    End date: April 21

American BystanderWhat: A quarterly humor magazine in the spirit of Spy and National Lampoon, but more substantial. Physically, it’s like the child of an Onion compilation and Life magazine. It’s really a “big-and-tall” paperback book. American Bystander #1 was a Kickstarter project and a smash hit. It was 146 pages and included work by several Simpsons writers and by Roz Chast, Kate Beaton and Monty Python’s Terry Jones, to name a few. Backers and readers clamored for more. Hence #2.

Who: Creators are Michael Gerber, Brian McConnachie and Alan Goldberg. Michael and Brian are comedy writers. Michael is an author who has written for The New Yorker and Saturday Night Live. Brian’s credits include The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, National Lampoon and SCTV. Alan is a filmmaker with documentaries about Fidel Castro, the Beatles, The Forbidden City and The Golden Gate Bridge.

Why: Take a look at the contributors. Issue #2  will include work by Merrill Markoe (writer, co-creator of Late Night With David Letterman), Liza Donnelly (cartoonist and writer, The New Yorker), Charles Barsotti (The New Yorker), Liana Finck (The New Yorker, A Bintel Brief), Mike Reiss (The Simpsons), Nell Scovell (Spy, The Simpsons, Newhart) … and the impressive list goes on. The creators are emphasizing writing and art by women.

Perks: For $5 you can get a .pdf of #2. As perks go up, you can choose .pdfs and hard copies of both issues.

How’s it going? With 761 backers, including famous names, the project has already surpassed its official goal of $25,000 and is approaching $31,000. The creators are hoping to hit their “stretch goal” of $100,000. If they do, they’ll be able to offer four-issue subscriptions.

Not This Year … I Have A Headache   End date: April 28

What: A multi-layered play about marriage. Described as “Neil Simon-ish with modern social mores.”

Who: Playwrights are comedians Steve Shaffer and Mark Schiff. Steve is an ACE-award winning writer and a stand-up comedian who has toured with George Carlin, opened for The Beach Boys and appeared on The Tonight Show and Murphy Brown.

Mark Schiff is also a writer and stand-up comedian. One of his most recent shows was with Jerry Seinfeld in Tel Aviv. He has also appeared on The Tonight Show and  Late Night with David Letterman. He is the co-author of one of my favorite books on comedy, I Killed.

L: Nancy & Mark Schiff. R: Gretchen & Steve Shaffer
Left: Nancy and Mark Schiff. Right: Gretchen and Steve Shaffer

Why: I saw this play in very early previews years ago at The Wilmette Theatre. It was excellent then. For anyone who wonders how much other people’s marriages resemble your own, you’ll find out. It’s reassuring and when it isn’t reassuring, at least you’ll commiserate and feel understood. What I’m saying is that this play is very, very real, true and relatable. One of the most memorable aspects to me is that these men are extremely adept at writing women. I remember being very impressed by that. Over the years, I’ve wondered when the play would make its official debut. By chance, I saw this Kickstarter posted on Cathy Ladman‘s Facebook page, recognized it right away and knew immediately I wanted to participate. I remember a very fun and funny evening with comedians who know what they’re talking about.

Perks: Everything from a rotating screensaver complete with scenes and punchlines for $6 to co-producer status and contributing a punchline or vignette to the play (which will be worked out by the playwrights as necessary). In between these levels, perks include original props and face time with the playwrights.

How’s it going? Fairly well, but deserves to go even better. With fifteen days left, the project has 133 backers and has raised $19,494 of its $31,000 goal.


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