By Quinn Russell Brown
Comedian Steve Byrne will play five shows at the Parlor Live Comedy Club in Seattle this weekend.
Byrne, 40, writes and produces the half-hour TBS show “Sullivan &Son.” His character, Steve Sullivan, works at a bar owned by his Irish-American father.
He’ll be joined at the Parlor by Owen Benjamin, Roy Wood Jr. and Ahmed Ahmed, fellow comedians who play his friends on the show. They’ll each do about 20 minutes of stand-up, followed by a session of group improv with audience interaction.
“If somebody’s got an idea, we go with it,” Byrne said. “We’ll just try to follow a lead on a joke where we get a few bites, and each guy will chime in and try to make that joke even better.”
This is the third year they’ve done the tour, to coincide with the third season of the show.
Byrne has been a stand-up comedian for 17 years. He says he was encouraged to create “Sullivan &Son” by friend and mentor Vince Vaughn, whom he appeared with in movies like “Couples Retreat” and “Four Christmases.”
“I would never have the show if it wasn’t for him believing in me and saying, ‘This is something you can do. You can write something for yourself,” Byrne said. “He’s been so mentoring in terms of helping me figure out the other aspect of show business, which is the business angle.”
Byrne developed the show with Rob Long, a co-executive producer of the seminal bar sitcom “Cheers.” Much of “Sullivan &Son” takes place in a wood-paneled Pittsburgh bar.
“We all have our jobs,” Byrne said, “but bars are where we go to to blow off some steam, release some stress, hear our favorite tunes and, if you’re single, to potentially meet somebody awesome.”
When they’re looking for a drink while out on tour, Byrne and crew tend to gravitate to dive bars and Irish pubs.
“Anywhere we can take over a jukebox and play a lot of Oasis,” he said. “That’s kind of our thing.”
For Byrne, the tour serves to promote “Sullivan &Son” while also allowing him to work on material for his next hour-long special. He’s had three so far, the most recent of which, “Champion,” is now streaming on Netflix.
His racial identity (half-Korean, half-Irish) was a main focus of his first three specials, but he says he put that to bed in “Champion.”
“Now that I’ve done that I’m going to move on, and go on to some other territory,” he said.
No telling what that new territory might be, but you can bet it will be provocative. In “Champion,” Byrne is politically incorrect to an almost proud degree, unloading one off-color joke after another. Gender, sexual orientation, AIDS, environmentalism — it’s all fair game to Byrne.
If you’re a fan of salty humor or just want to see a diverse group of comics, the “Sullivan &Son” troupe may be right up your alley.
Tickets to see Steve Byrne and the cast of “Sullivan &Son” are $25-35 and can be purchased here. Parlor Live is at 1522 6th Ave., Seattle 98101. 21+ only (18+ Thursday). Two item minimum purchase.
At Parlor Live in Bellevue this weekend: Brandon T. Jackson (““Californication,” “Tropic Thunder”).