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Hearty laughter

Local comics compile comedy for a cause

Andrew Deacon, host of The Fur Shop’s weekly open mic

Greg Bollinger

Two guys walk into a bar to meet about an upcoming benefit show they’re hosting. The first one says, “I originally envisioned a dog-related charity, so I could be covered in puppies.” The second one says, “This is how Cruella de Vil started: ‘I want to be covered in puppies—but puppy skins would be easier!’”

The exchange between top Tulsa comics Ryan Green and Andrew Deacon came about when discussing their upcoming Live at the Fur Shop comedy album. The two comics—along with Michael Zampino, a fellow member of the Channel 4.5 podcast network—are set to record two evenings of their wildly popular Monday night open mic series at the Fur Shop and compile an album from the best sets.

But instead of going the “101 Dalmatians” route, all profits from the recording will go to the Hearts of Steel Foundation, which benefits people with congenital heart defects. Green’s dad suffers from a heart defect, and Zampino lost a grandfather to one, so the Tulsa-based charity seemed a more logical fit.

“A lot of people think you have a heart attack, you go to the hospital, and you get a big bill,” Green said. “But this is a lifetime thing full of expensive medication.”

“We wanted to do something to give back, instead of just splitting the money,” Deacon said.

Heart defects aren’t funny, but the trio of Green, Deacon, and Zampino is hysterical. Their weekly Fur Shop open mic, which took shape after the closing of downtown’s Comedy Parlor, has quickly become a staple of the local scene, performing the rare comedy feat of drawing in a steady crowd of regulars along with comics eyeing a slot.

“We wanted to create a downtown space that still felt professional,” Deacon said.

That professionalism has manifested in a carefully-curated space for comics to try out new material in a room full of comics. In the long-forgotten genesis days of Tulsa comedy (five years ago) an open mic could mean an evening of rolling your eyes into the back of your skull—but the hosts at the Fur Shop aren’t afraid to cut down abrasive hack comics or the kind that think presenting 4chan in public is edgy.

“The cringe still happens,” Green said. “But it’s surrounded by great acts—like hiding medicine in a piece of bacon.”

While experimentation and the thrill of seeing a comic work through new material is a huge draw, part of the fun is when a comic’s bomb results in good-natured roasting from their peers.

“When you hear Deacon cackling, you know someone’s having a rough go, and it’s hilarious,” Green said.

“Yeah—when you want encouragement, you go to Ryan,” Deacon said. “You come to me when you want to get better.”

It’s worth noting that the duo howled at this notion.

With Tulsa acts touring to larger fests, and our own Blue Whale Comedy Festival allowing Tulsa stand-ups a chance to rub shoulders with national stars, Tulsa comedy is entering the big leagues. Comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted about Blue Whale—and called Tulsa “hauntingly beautiful”—in a widely-shared clarion call for our scene’s arrival on the main stage.

For the recording of Live at the Fur Shop, Deacon, Green, and Zampino selected their top 30 repeat performers. Fifteen acts will make the cut for the final product.

“Our scene is full of so much talent, so we thought a compilation showcasing many comics, instead of just a few, would be perfect,” Deacon said.

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