Finding the Funny in Detroit!

By: Kurt Buesching | August 6, 2012

People say that laughter is the best medicine. Everyone knows how good it feels to laugh, really laugh… as in a deep down belly laugh. It feels even better when something you say or do makes someone else laugh like that. Personally, I am not very funny. My jokes tend to fall flat. The only people who really find me amusing are my best friend of 30 years (maybe one of the reasons we are still such good friends) and my young sons. But considering their ages and the fact that burps are funny to them, that is not exactly a glowing endorsement. Therefore, I know that a career in comedy is not in my future. However, there are those that choose this path for their livelihood. Make no mistake about it; it can be a tough road. But when you hit it just right, it can be magical.

I had the opportunity to speak to two very talented local Metro Detroit comedians. Zach Martina is an up and comer on the scene and Bill Bushart is the undisputed, godfather of Michigan comedy. Both of these funny guys gave me a glimpse into the world of comedy and what is happening on the Detroit scene.

Martina, a relative newcomer to the Detroit Comedy Scene, has pursued his comedy career with a vengeance over the past year. His passion is to bring energy and enjoyment to every show he does, though he admits that this is not always easy. He feels that you are “truly as good as your last joke” and talks of how the great shows make the bad ones bearable. “I can’t explain the high of making a room full of people laugh at something I made up,” he said.

Martina spoke of the camaraderie of the Detroit Comedy Scene. The comics all band together to help one another. Whether it is assisting new comics to book emcee jobs and opening sets or helping with a joke, if you are serious about making comedy your life, there are people willing to help.

One of those people is Bill Bushart. Though reluctant to accept the title, he is commonly referred to as the Godfather of Detroit Stand Up. Bushart not only performs, but also teaches up and coming comedians at the Comedy Castle in Royal Oak. Approaching everything with a fresh, fun attitude, he does not see the tougher shows as failure. Rather, he uses them as opportunities to learn and grow. “If you can’t take failure, you should get out of this business, ” he said. Bushart admits that it was a bit easier breaking into the comedy scene back in the day, since there weren’t as many aspiring comedians in the area 15 years ago. However, times they are a changin’. Bushart has seen the comedy scene explode in the Detroit area in recent years.

There now exist many places in the Metro Detroit Area to catch a comedy show. Joey’s Comedy Club in Livonia, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak and The Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase all have shows almost every weekend and open mic nights throughout the week. Then there are places like the Holly Hotel, The Red Dog Saloon, The South Lyon Hotel, 59 West and Bakers of Milford that have satellite shows, usually once a month, featuring local talent.

There are also places like Go Comedy! In Ferndale that focus on improv, offering shows throughout the week and weekend. Check out our article, “Go Comedy! So Funny You’ll Cry” to read about them.

Everyone can use a good laugh… there is no doubt about that. And lucky for us Michiganders, we just happen to have a pool of very funny people right in our own backyard!