Fans of both comedy and film in Chattanooga will get a taste of a new monthly sketch showcase during the Chattanooga Film Festival this weekend.
Ladie’s Night is a sketch comedy competition held every month at Atlanta’s Village Theatre. The show features standup comedians, but the main focus is unreleased comedic sketches from the Ladie’s Night team and others.
During the show, the short sketches are judged by a crowd, and the winner returns the next month to defend their victory.
Ladie’s Night will debut in Chattanooga during the Chattanooga Film Festival on Saturday from 6 to 7 p.m. as part of the festival’s comedy block. Ladie’s Night will then return to Chattanooga each month following the official opening of the Cine-Rama art house, expected to open in late April.
Joel Ruiz, a former Chattanooga comedian/filmmaker, left Chattanooga in late 2014 to begin a film career in Atlanta. He co-created the Ladie’s Night format with Atlanta natives Zach Lamlugh and Brian Emond.
From their first showcase in January 2015, the show was a success. Audiences have grown to more than 150 people each night, and, now, the show features up to five competitive sketch teams.
Ruiz credits the success of the show to the focus on recorded sketches and filmmaking, as opposed to other comedy formats.
“Atlanta’s standup scene is huge,” Ruiz said. “You can easily go see a show any night of the week. But nobody had done anything with comedic sketches-other than the occasional filmed sketch at an improv show-so we just tried it out.”
Initially, the Chattanooga version of Ladie’s Night will be a mirror of the Atlanta show’s content from the previous night. Eventually, the idea is for Chattanooga-based filmmakers and sketch teams to submit their own content for consideration.
“The ultimate idea is to get Chattanooga involved,” Ruiz said. “Sadly, with my history there, I know there’s not enough groups to do a straight submission block like we do in Atlanta yet. But in time, I think interest will grow.”
The Ladie’s Night sketch team creates three videos per month for their Atlanta shows: two scripted sketches and a custom “intro” video. The other sketch submissions are selected based on one criterion: the quality of the comedy. Ruiz said sketches could be filmed on a phone (or anything), and as long as they are contextually funny to the Ladie’s Night team, they will be approved for the showcase.
Click here to view some of recent sketches selected from the show.
“It’s not about who has the best camera equipment or who has the best filmmaking skills; we select based on who has the funniest content, period,” he said. “We want people to focus on comedy. I’ve had filmmakers in town say that the show has actively pushed all creative filmmakers to get better at writing comedy.”
The Ladie’s Night team has allied with the Chattanooga Film Festival and Cine-Rama from the beginning. For Ruiz, the return to Chattanooga (even as a visitor) is an important milestone.
Upon his departure in 2014, Ruiz offered some scathing words about the ability to survive in Chattanooga as a working artist.
Click here to read the full interview.
“I left Chattanooga with bad feelings, but I’m happy to be able to come up and start showing people that I put my money where my mouth is,” he said. “We’ve created a successful, funny show that we’re excited to bring back.”
As for the obvious grammatically incorrect “Ladie’s Night” name, Ruiz told Atlanta’s Creative Loafing it was just a funny mistake that kind of stuck:
While we were just throwing out names, Zach said the name “Ladies Night” and we were all 100 percent on board right away. We knew the show would be free, so that worked in our favor. It was a jab [at] places that did real ladies’ night so we could use the tag “Ladies get in free; so do dudes!” and laugh to ourselves like the idiots we are. A few days later, Zach sends the first flier to Brian and [me], and it was spelled “Ladie’s Night.” Brian and I lost it. We thought it was so funny; on top of taking a name that everywhere else uses, we are also misspelling it.
Click here for the complete interview.
Updated @ 2:42 p.m. on 3/30/16.