The Wiseguys improv comedy troupe hosts the longest running comedy show in Memphis. Sort of.
"Well — that's kind of a joke," says the troupe's founder Joe Leibovich in his characteristic deadpan. While the description is technically accurate, the comedians only started using it in their marketing when their good friends in FreakEngine ended a stunning 18-year run in 2015. This week, the title goes up for grabs once again because The Wiseguys — Memphis' OGs of theater games — reach the end of their own impressive 15-year journey.
"Well, we're not really going away," Leibovich further clarifies, in spite of this week's big farewell show. Turns out, the troupe that's been reliably serving up monthly doses of "comedy you can't refuse," since 2005, is only ending its run of regularly scheduled shows at Midtown's Cafe Eclectic. "We'll probably still do a couple of shows a year," Leibovich says noncommittally.
- Kathryn Willis
- The Wiseguys
The Wiseguys started performing at Bonkerz, a comedy club located in Bally's Casino in Tunica. They eventually moved to Zinnie's Full Moon Club before taking up residence at Cafe Eclectic. They have also performed in driveways and were once hired to play a private birthday party show between two pool tables at the Fox & Hound. Several members of the company contributed to The Memphis Flyer's Fly on the Wall blog, writing Onion-style parodies about everything from Big Star fans to the little-known fact that City Council member Janis Fullilove is actually a sentient swarm of bees. The company's alum — some of whom will be returning for the "final" show — include professional clowns, comics, and comedy writers.
"What's been most rewarding about this whole thing, we've had over 35 people from the beginning to now, I'd like to think everybody who's come through has had a positive experience, and it's meant something," Leibovich says. "It's certainly meant something to me to work with and foster such a large group of talented, great people."