Originally from Richmond, VA, Chelsea discovered comedy as a way to stave off the boredom of being a beautiful twenty-something. Since first taking the stage as a stand up in early 2011, she has flourished in the local DC stand up comedy scene, playing venues like the DC Improv, Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, and the Kennedy Center. Her material ranges from riffs on the low bar for allyship to dating or even pythons in the Everglades. It is all inspired by Chelsea's life and her life as a queer woman of color whose performances can be enjoyed by everyone.
How did you first get into comedy?
I moved to DC after college. I was struggling to make friends and I wanted to do something that wasn’t just sitting alone in my apartment. There was a small improv comedy theater in a mall across from my apartment, and I went over to watch a performance. They offered a class, I took it, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the stage time. After a while, I wanted to focus on my own ideas on stage and took a “5 minutes of funny” class (through the DC Improv) and transitioned into standup comedy.
What’s your favorite venue to play in DC?
That’s a tough question! There are special things about all the venues I’ve played. I don’t know if I have a favorite but being invited to the Kennedy Center was special. It made me feel like I’d accomplished something by being invited to perform on a national stage. Arlington Draft House is also a lot of fun — it was the first place to pay me to be funny. I love going back there.
Any advice for new comedians?
Accept that you won’t be perfect. People sometimes get in their own way when they envision what their first time on stage will be like. You have got to accept that stand up is hard. The first few times you’ll probably be bad. But the more you pursue it, the better you’ll get. Just keep going. Trust the process. I should write down the advice I give comedians at the Comedy Shuffle!
What’s your favorite thing about comedy in DC?
I like that there’s good competition. There’s stage time (maybe less now than a few years ago) to practice. There are smart comedians for me to test myself against, which is great. We’re not in direct competition, but on a show you want to be funny and be the funniest. If other people are funnier, it makes you step up your game. I like the quality and smarts of comedians that are attracted to DC.
What do you want to see more of from comedy in DC?
I would love to see more diversity. I’d also like to see more opportunity for people to perform. It feels like there are less open mics than there used to be. I’d like to see diversity in comics but also diversity in the how people perform. Seeing a show with a really physical comedian, a cerebral comedian, a high energy comedian, a low energy comedian, a comedian specializing in one-liners. You get the idea. More diversity in the way that we’re performing is key.
I’d also like to see more diverse voices with different experiences. It would be fantastic to see more women, more queer people, more trans people. More people of color. When there’s not a ton of people like you in the room, it can be tough to keep trying and keep coming back. We can be a little exclusive as comedians. We need to stick together.
You’re one of the rotating shufflers on Monday’s Comedy Shuffle. What’s it like to be on the shuffling side of things?
It’s tough sometimes, because you have to always be paying attention. Each comic has 2-4.5 minutes, but as the shuffler you’re performing for 2 hours. It can be taxing, but I really like seeing young comedians discover themselves and take risks. New comics can remind experienced comics what it’s like to take risks. Sometimes comics at the Shuffle inspire ideas for my own jokes. Overall, it’s really fun to watch young people try their hardest and to give my advice.
What do you like to do outside of comedy?
I love to play video games. I also like watching sports and spending time with my girlfriend. When I’m not doing comedy, I’m usually doing some other kind of creative class. I’ve been focused on storytelling the last couple of months and I’ve been taking acting class to grow my creative skills. I am very into storytelling. Part of the reason I’m playing video games right now is that they’re innovative in the way they tell stories and have gameplay that can really differ from game to game. Right now I’m playing Fire Emblem.
What’s your favorite moment in your comedy career so far?
Gosh, I’ve had so many cool moments! I’ve been able to perform at DC Improv and the Kennedy Center and at a lot of different colleges around the country. Something I recently got to do was write a script for the 48 Hour Film Festival, and it was actually produced into a short film! That was a really nice moment to get a script I wrote produced and made. That was special. Also, one of my stories is going to be on the Moth Radio Hour next year, that’s pretty fucking cool!
Brr. It’s cold in here. There must be comedy in the atmosphere.
It’s December. You’re cold. You’re tired of being outside. The days are short, the nights are long… Warm up with some of our favorite comics at Friday Night Laughs! This show has an OPEN BAR! We repeat—AN OPEN BAR! $25 for great comedy and as many drinks as you’d like.
Join Capital Laughs at the cozy Town Tavern to stave off the cold. Get your hats and gloves ready and venture out into the December weather for a great night of comedy. 2019 is almost over. Make the most of this last month and end the year with laughter. You won’t regret it.
Eddie Morrison (The Comedy Store)
Randolph Terrance (Sirius/XM)
Host: Jack Coleman
Laughs kick off at 8 p.m. Doors at 7:30. Join us for a warm night of comedy, drinks, and fun. It’s Friday Night Laughs at Town Tavern.
Friday, December 6, 2019
Town Tavern (Upstairs)
2323 18th St NW, DC
Show + 1 drink = $18
Show + OPEN BAR = $25
PS – Capital Laughs hosts NINE FREE SHOWS a week! Support our local comedians and have a fun at the same time. Check out our weekly (did we mention FREE?) comedy show lineup at capitallaughs.com.
Don’t let Daylight Saving Time get you down. Head outside into the dark and get ready to laugh!
This one’s not just going to be good. It’s going to be great! The prodigal comedians return to DC at the Half Hour Power Hour on Sunday, November 5th at Café St-Ex.
Join DC natives Hanna Dickinson (Comedy Central) and Stephen Campbell (Holy Ship, Comedy Central) as they each record a half hour of their hilarious comedy LIVE! Excellent comedians AND they hail from DC? What’s not to love? All for the very reasonable price of $12.
Don’t finish your weekend in front of the tube. Squeeze a little more fun in before you head back to work. Let Capital Laughs do the worrying about Monday—just sit back, relax, and enjoy two of the funniest DC-native comics we know.
You’ll still be home in time for lights out, we promise. Fall back into comfortable hilarity at the Half Hour Power Hour with Capital Laughs.
Hanna Dickinson (Comedy Central)
Stephen Campbell (Holy Ship, Comedy Central)
The laughs begin at 6 p.m. Doors at 5:30. Don’t miss it. We’ll see you there.
Sunday, November 5, 2019
Café Saint-Ex (downstairs)
1847 14th St NW, DC
PS – We have nine FREE shows at Café Saint-Ex and other locations around DC every week! Check them out at capitallaughs.com.
The leaves have started to turn. The fall weather is here. But DC’s thirst for comedy remains — spend your post-Halloween evening with Capital Laughs. We’ll be at Town Tavern November 1st for Friday Night Laughs, our monthly comedy showcase.
Start off November on the right foot with four of our favorite comics from DC and beyond. With cuffing season in full swing, now’s the time to take that lucky date out for a night of fantastic comedy. Take advantage of the sweater weather and snuggle up with good company, drinks, and big laughs. A ticket + one drink is $18, but why not spend $25 for comedy and all the drinks your heart could desire?! Between the warmth of laughter and libations (and maybe company!), you’re sure to have a fun-filled evening.
Join us on 18th street as Capital Laughs kicks off November the right way – with great drinks, great people, and most importantly, great comedy.
Josh Kuderna (Speechless)
Bridget Geiran (DC Improv)
Martin Phillips (UCB, Second City)
Chelsea Shorte (TAGG Magazine, The Comedy Shuffle)
Host: Jack Coleman
Laughs kick off at 8 p.m. Doors at 7:30. Clear eyes, full drinks, can’t lose. It’s Friday Night Laughs at Town Tavern.
Friday, November 1, 2019
Town Tavern (Upstairs)
2323 18th St NW, DC
Show + 1 drink = $18
Show + OPEN BAR = $25
PS – Capital Laughs puts on NINE FREE SHOWS a week! Support local comedy and have fun in the process. Check out our weekly (did we mention FREE?) comedy show lineup at capitallaughs.com.
Wow, June is going to be really, really funny. We at Capital Laughs have some of our best shows ever lined up, with comics from New York City, multiple Comedy Central comics, an open bar and Airbnb all getting in the game, in addition to our NINE FREE WEEKLY SHOWS.
It all starts on the very first day of June (tomorrow), when three of our favorite NYC comics grace the Cafe Saint-Ex stage at 5:30pm for hilarity.
Next, on Friday the 7th, we host our monthly open bar showcase, "Friday Night Laughs", at Town Tavern, with Natasha Vaynblat (Comedy Central) among others. Did I mentioned it'd be OPEN BAR? In case you missed it, this show will have an OPEN F#$%ING BAR.
The following weekend, on both Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th, we've got NYC's Norlex Belma (Caroline's on Broadway) at Cafe Saint-Ex for two awesome shows.
Finally, our "third Fridays" showcase at Shaw's Tavern is now selling through Airbnb for Friday, June 21, and features Robert Mac (Comedy Central).
And that's on top of our NINE FREE WEEKLY SHOWS. Yes, we also have NINE FREE WEEKLY SHOWS. But as good as they are, they're not as good as the hot-ass non-free shit we've got lined up FOR YOU this June. Check it out.
I'm pumped about our newest free weekly stand-up show: "14th & Funny" on Saturdays at 8pm at Cafe Saint-Ex, near U Street. Why am I so pumped? The reasons are myriad. Myriad!!!
First of all, it's Saturday night. That was the only night of the week on which we didn't have a show, so we now have FREE weekly comedy shows every single night of the week. Thus our new slogan: "Not your everyday stand-up show. Every day." (See the grammatical difference between "everyday" and "every day" here.
What makes our shows so not everyday? They're awesome, that's what. Let's face it: a lot of comedy shows are lackluster. Not ours. We have quotes on TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp to prove this, but I won't bore you with other people's quotes when I can bore you with my own. I happen to like our shows. How's that?
Second, it's free to attend. FREE. Does this denote shitty quality, you might wonder? Absolutely not! And we save the Saturday night show for the best talent in town. Our premier show (tomorrow, May 11, 2019) will feature Bridget Gieran (DC Improv), Alex Barbag (Kennedy Center) and Steven Chen (Church Night), among other local favorites.
Third, we used to have a kick-ass show at a venue on H Street on Saturday nights, but unfortunately the management went insane and allegedly were small arms dealers in Ukraine or something and they got shut down. Our show was the most legit thing going on there. My point is that it's nice to return to providing a free Saturday option, and at a venue with no known foreign entanglements.
In truth, we may only offer this for free for the first few weeks. We'll see. If it's just too awesome and we have to turn people away (reserve your seat by registering here), we may end up charging for tickets. So don't miss your chance to see it for free in the coming weeks and, if you do and we start charging, you'll know you're getting a great product. Cause you are. Got it?
See you tomorrow at the corner of 14th & Funny.
by Matt Dundas
Last night's shows at Cafe Saint-Ex were great. In a way, we at Capital Laughs celebrated a spiritual rebirth. Don't worry, it wasn't a literal birth, nor was it wholly religious (though it was partly wholly holy).
Since our founding a few years ago, we've given comics on our free weekly shows 5-minute sets to practice and hone their material. As of last night, we're giving most of the comics almost twice as much stage time. While newer comics still get 4-5 minutes, the more experienced and accomplished comics in DC will now get 8-10 minutes per set to showcase their new jokes, practice their trusted winners, and hone the craft.
This means better stand-up comedy for you, the audience.
For one thing, some jokes need to be long to get into the guts of things. Take my joke, "Don't try to make me cum." It takes 4+ minutes to tell this joke. That would be a whole set if all I got was 4-5 minutes. Do you really think I should tell a joke called "Don't try to make me cum" right from the start of my set? Wouldn't you rather get to know me for a few minutes before launching into something so dark, personal and disgusting? I assume so, and my experience is that audiences enjoy that joke a lot more if they understand that I'm not a total asshole before I explore my most intimate dating story.
On that front, I think audiences need a few minutes to calibrate from comic to comic. For example, local comic genius Alex Barbag is a really weird-seeming guy. From the moment he takes the stage, I think many audience members are thinking, "Who is this guy and what exactly is he doing up there?" It can take 5 minutes before the average audience member says, "Oh, I see now; he's a comic genius the precise likes of which I haven't seen before." Wouldn't it be nice if, after you make this realization, you get to enjoy a few more minutes of his amazing jokes before he departs?
Yet another reason why it's better for the audience to see these longer sets is because it means that more of the stage time is occupied by the most experienced comics. While seeing fresh faces is great, generally speaking newer comics have a harder time staying consistently funny on stage. (This is why "The Comedy Shuffle" exists on Monday nights: to offer stage time to anyone that signs up, so new comics get their fair shot, and because the "shuffler" is there with them on stage to interrupt as necessary and provide feedback, making the audience experience top-notch even with brand new or inconsistent talent at the mic.)
You might be asking yourself: wait, if I can see longer sets from more experienced comics at your free shows, why would I pay good money to attend your "all-star showcases"? Ha, excellent point, except there's a really fucking great reason: the free weekly shows are still the place where comics try out their newest material and hone the jokes they've been working on for a while. It's where the stakes are on the lower end precisely because the audience didn't pay. Yes, they are hilarious comics and, yes, you will have a great time and, yes, attending any of our shows is always a terrific decision, but let's face it: the "all-star showcases" aren't just the "all-star" comics in town, they're also where those comics give you their "all-star" material. Not only that, but most of our free shows are on weeknights, whereas the all-star shows are on weekends (higher demand equals higher value, bitches).
Am I fucking reaching you here? Do you get what I'm saying? Am I just farting into the wind?
We're super excited to provide these longer sets to the best and most experienced comics in Washington, D.C., and I'm convinced that it's just as much of a gift to you, the audience, as it is to the comics. Frankly, I think everyone involved should be fucking grateful. Where's the goddam gratitude? Anyway, anyway, I'm getting distracted.
Thanks to all those who attended and performed at our debut longer-sets shows last night at Cafe Saint-Ex. Tonight we've got Chelsea Shorte doing the shuffling at the DC Comedy Loft, and tomorrow we're back to longer sets at that same DC Comedy Loft with our regular Tuesday host, Phil Mike. As for me, I'll be hosting my monthly all-star show, the General Shaw's Chicken Comedy Showcase, on Friday, May 17, at 8pm at Shaw's Tavern. See you at the shows!