It’s awful out in Juneau on a Saturday night. After a bunch of snow, it’s raining, and moat-like ponds of water fill the streets, the sidewalks, everywhere.
Bad conditions however, have not affected attendance at a Club Baby Seal show, a new comedy troupe in Juneau.
The group of four comedians, two managers, a volunteer bartender and security guard are set up at the Gold Town Nickelodeon. It’s their second show of the night and it’s well attended — the first show sold out.
After a welcome from manager Grace Lee, emcee Corin Hughes-Skandijs warms up the crowd. Part of his open includes a self-deprecating realization that he has the look of a movie extra.
“I’m the kind of guy that you would see stuck at the top of roller coaster, the hero has to come up and save me,” Hughes-Skandijs said. “I’m sitting there with like, a Mickey ears hat.”
The audience gives the bit a healthy laugh.
Next up is one of the group’s founders, Brady Ingledue. After taking a stand-up workshop, he started gathering long-time friends to write jokes and perform at home.
One of his jokes takes place in the bedroom.
“I do like to experiment in the sack, though,” Ingledue said. “What I like to do is get, like, a girl. I’m coming in, I’ll get you all set up in the bedroom right there, doing your thing. And then I’ll be over here kind of making a baking soda volcano. You know, getting the elements going, there’s test tubes.”
Alicia Hughes-Skandijs is the other group founder who wrote and practiced with Ingledue in the beginning. Her bit is about role-playing — but in a decidedly unsexy setting, the produce section of Fred Meyer.
“So I start in the organic section, and I just, like, grab it, like I know what I’m doing,” Hughes Skandijs said in a suggestive voice. “Ohh, this recipe calls for two kinds of kale. I know what’s going to happen with it.”
She snaps back to her regular voice.
“I do know what’s going to happen to the kale. The kale is going to get really, really slimy, like in my produce drawer.”
After the show she said, “It is the best feeling in the world when people are laughing because it feels like through their laughter they’re like, ‘Oh yeah I get it. Like, I’m with you on that point.’”
Alicia and Brady eventually met Nate Williams at a party. They started doing house shows in his living room in front of a brick-patterned curtain they ordered from Amazon.
Williams also is the one who suggested the name — Club Baby Seal — an irreverent play on words he conceived as a fifth-grader for the name of a snow fort he made.
“I don’t listen to self-help directly, but I listen to people who listen to self-help,” Williams said. “It’s too powerful straight from the source, like, uncut Tony Robbins is more than anyone can really handle. And I really don’t want to improve too rapidly.”
For those first house shows they brought on Alicia’s brother, actor Corin Hughes-Skandijs as emcee, and eventually actor and long-time friend Allison Holtkamp started performing too.
Whether being an extra, role-playing, self-help or self-image, Alicia said material works “because there is something universal in there that everyone can relate to.”
And what does it feel like when it’s working and everyone is laughing?
“It’s like getting done with a 10-mile run and you get all of those endorphins in that one big laugh,” Holtkamp said.
Corin said, “It’d be like if your whole family was gathered in the living room when you came home from work and they all give you a standing ovation. And you were like, ‘What’s it for?’ ‘For you, and by the way, here is your favorite dinner that you’ve always wanted.’”
Williams said, “It’s like a hug from father or something. It’s a huge acceptance that what you say, what you think — yeah, it’s actually a really neat connection.”
The comedians are quick to thank their managers Hali Duran and Grace Lee, and they’re proud of providing a new artistic outlet in Juneau.
Club Baby Seal has shows scheduled in Petersburg in January, and they hope to make it to Anchorage and beyond in the spring.