The stand-up comedians on “The Dope Show” are daredevils.
They’re as likely to crash and burn as they are to succeed. And that’s what makes it so fun to watch.
“The Dope Show” is coming to the Historic Everett Theatre on the holiest of holy days for stoners: April 20, known nationwide as “Weed Day.” (4-20 is code for cannabis consumption.) It’s fitting, because that’s exactly what they’ll be smoking.
Five comedians will perform sober for about 15 minutes each, take a quick break to smoke a joint, then return to the stage and perform high. Some are experienced with weed, while others are not.
The comedians — Tyler Smith, Jesse Weyrick and Levi Manis, all of Seattle, Jay Hollingsworth, of Los Angeles, and Alex Elkin, of Eugene, Oregon — have been doing stand-up for years. But marijuana affects everyone differently, so all that goes out the window once they’ve smoked.
“The concept of the show brings out a ton of people,” said Smith, who founded “The Dope Show” in 2016. “I think they mostly want to see us fail, honestly.”
If that happens — and it does — audiences don’t embarrass them with boos. There’s just more laughter.
Being high is second nature for Smith, a ganja enthusiast. He’s been doing comedy for nine years and doesn’t feel the least bit fazed when he goes on stage after a few tokes.
“Some of us are actually in our element when we’re a little bit stoned,” Smith, 33, said.
That isn’t the case for headliner Hollingsworth, who hardly ever smokes weed.
“Usually comics are pretty vulnerable on stage,” said Hollingsworth, a nationally touring comedian who also writes jokes for a television sitcom. “This is just taking that vulnerability to the next degree.”
Hollingsworth was high as a kite the first time he performed with “The Dope Show” in October 2016. He’s a comic who likes to tell stories, but when he tried to do that stoned, he kept getting sidetracked. Every time he restarted the story from the beginning, the audience laughed.
It got up to about 10 loops when he realized he went over his allotted time by about 10 minutes. Everyone was supportive, though, he said.
“You have a safety net because people know you’re high,” Hollingsworth said. “There’s less caution in what you’re doing on stage. If it doesn’t work, it’s like, ‘I’m high, what do you expect?’ ”
Smith keeps the “high” sets around five minutes long because of how unpredictable they can be. Hollingsworth joked that he’s partly to blame.
Hollingsworth has since returned to “The Dope Show” twice. The performances are mostly a chance to have fun, but he also enjoys challenging himself by getting as stoned as possible. He’ll throw in new jokes without any expectations for how they’ll be received.
Time can feel like it slows down when you’re high on stage, Hollingworth said.
“It definitely feels longer than five minutes.”
Apart from being a fun way to experience comedy, Smith hopes “The Dope Show” helps break some barriers and stigmas with weed. Someday he’d like it to be no different than drinking and watching a comedian perform.
“We try to take it upon ourselves to make it more normal, so it can be integrated into the mainstream,” Smith said. “We would love to be able to perform in a place where everybody could light up with us. That’s just not going to happen for another couple years, it seems.”
Some venues are hesitant when they first hear the concept, but there have never been any problems because “The Dope Show” follows rules enforced by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, Smith said.
“The Dope Show,” which has over 22,000 likes on Facebook, performs monthly at the Tacoma Comedy Club and Spokane Comedy Club, drawing audiences of about 200. It’s also appeared in Arlington, Bellevue, Seattle, Yakima and Portland, Oregon, and will be part of The Highlarious Comedy Festival, which returns April 12-14 at the Naked City Brewery & Taphouse in Seattle.
The Historic Everett Theatre is “The Dope Show’s” largest venue to date.
“It took a while to cultivate the show to get to this point,” Smith said. “This was the goal, to get into bigger venues. When we started, it was in a tiny little club in downtown Seattle that maxes out at 100 seats. I wouldn’t have predicted this.”
If you go
“The Dope Show” is at 8 p.m. April 20 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave, Everett. Tickets from $12. Ages 18 and up.
More at www.facebook.com/whosmokesweed.me.
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