stand up comic original

Local comedian performs to an audience at the Syndicate Lounge.
Photos contributed by Tollie Jones

Kristina Balciunaite
Life and Style Editor

Birmingham defines itself by its culture, and as the city progresses, so does its entertainment scene. Music, art and even comedy have become an increasingly popular social gathering purpose. The Goulash Comedy Showcase at the Syndicate Lounge is one of the resources for aspiring comedians to show their work and for locals to see them.

Chris Ivy, stand-up comedian and organizer of the Goulash Comedy Showcase, has been performing comedy for the last four years and poetry, the majority of his life. After graduating from The School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee, he moved to Birmingham to work as a sales manager.

Rap music, poetry and comedy play a big role in Ivy’s life, which is why he is actively involved in the promotion of those art forms. Every Monday at 9 p.m. at the Syndicate Lounge on 20th Street South, 10 to 30 comedians perform and experiment with their comedic and musical material.

“I think any art is important to the community because it brings people joy,” Ivy said. “People are just happy, they are just in a good mood.”

Ivy decided to organize a weekly open mic because he felt he often did not get to finish his set on other showcases as they tended to interrupt performances prematurely. Therefore, Ivy started his own showcase, so that both he and the other participants would get the resources, space and time they need to practice and evolve their material.

“Everybody is themselves and then they have a persona created for Instagram,” Ivy said. “No one’s honest about anything, and it’s very frustrating. You hope that people get up and just say some honest shit.”

Goulash Comedy Showcase allows anyone try out their entertainment talents in front of an audience. Even the name of the event suggests everyone is welcome as “goulash” is a type of stew that includes a lot of different contents.

“I think, we often feel like talent is so far away that we need to pay $200 to see it,” Ivy said. “But it’s staring you in the face. It’s right there.”

Ivy also organizes the annual Birmingham Comedy Festival. This year, the event included more than 20 shows with performers from across the country.

Star comedians, including Myq Kaplan, who performed in April and Tig Notaro, who will perform in August, are popularizing comedic life in Birmingham.

“That’s the interesting thing about this city,” Ivy said. “Birmingham has all the tools and all the things for someone to make something incredible here.”

Michael Ruffino, a senior in communications studies, has been performing and attending the showcase for years. For him, this has been an opportunity to practice the talents he plans to pursue after he graduates.

“Goulash has become the mic to go to in Birmingham for comedy,” Ruffino said. “I’m so grateful that Chris and the Syndicate Lounge have given the local comedy community a space to practice week after week.”

Whether you are an aspiring comedian, musician or poet, you want to try something new or just get out on a Monday night, the Goulash Comedy Showcase is your go-to place.

“I hope people from UAB come,” Ivy said. “I hope people who have something to say come out and say it.”

Kristina Balciunaite can be reached at and on Twitter at @KscopeKristina.

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