Less than a month ago, Dave Ross took to his Tumblr page to confirm rumors that his weekly stand-up show, Holy Fuck, was coming to a close. “It might be difficult to understand the reason we're ending the show. I hope you can, though, because even though it's hard and weird and maybe even abrupt, I think it's the right decision,” Ross wrote. The reason? Simply, that “it's time to go.”
What started in November 2009 as a free, semi-regular comedy show for emerging stand-up comedians has, over more than three years, remained just that: a free comedy show. In the summer of 2011, Holy Fuck evolved into a weekly installment at the Downtown Independent, a 222-seat, newly-renovated movie theater on the fringes of Skid Row. By early 2013, Holy Fuck had become one of the most buzzed-about, high-profile comedy shows in town, never mind that it was also one of the cheapest.
In the past six months alone, the Tuesday night stand-up show has included well-known comedians like Marc Maron, who hosts an eponymous TV series on IFC; Maria Bamford, who can be seen on everything from Arrested Development to the documentary Comedians of Comedy to those irritatingly funny Target commercials for Black Friday; and Natasha Leggero, a Funny or Die alum and regular panelist on Chelsea Lately.
Holy Fuck's last show, held tonight at 9 p.m. at the Downtown Independent, promises an equally impressive roster of comedians, but the only thing Ross will reveal to us about the line-up is that there will be lots of tears involved. “I think the show will be mostly crying,” he jokes, although he's surprised and oddly comforted that he's not more emotional about it yet.
“It's almost exactly like a breakup for me because every time I break up with a girl I haven't had sex in a while and I cry a lot and those are both things that are going to be going on on Tuesday,” Ross tells the Weekly over the phone.
For Ross and his co-host Jeff Wattenhofer, the break-up with Holy Fuck is bittersweet. “Part of me is kind of excited — I don't even know how to put it into words,” Ross admits. “Projects need to end. It's cool to move on, and it's hard, and you have to sort of nut up and do it.”
Almost immediately after he wraps up the last Holy Fuck show, Ross will begin hosting a new podcast on the Nerdist network, which airs July 10, and his sketch group Women (which often appears on Holy Fuck) will start production on a series of videos produced by Funny or Die. If Holy Fuck is the break-up, then these two new projects are the rebound — although Ross insists the timing was somewhat serendipitous.
Up next: the show that's filling their slot
As for Holy Fuck's Tuesday night slot at the Downtown Independent, a new stand-up show called Sleepaway Camp is taking over and hoping to fill the theater with as many laughs and as much hype as Holy Fuck did over the course of three and a half years.
During that time, Holy Fuck has seen its fair share of highs and lows. Among the highs: when former co-producer Jessica Ruiz got proposed to on stage via an elaborate video her boyfriend put together, and everyone in the audience (including her whole family) subsequently chanted the word “love.” She said yes.
Then there were the lows: when comedian Nick Turner was harassed so badly by a drunken heckler that he had to grab the mic stand and hold it like a weapon to protect himself. “We have a security guard now and that night is the reason why,” Ross explains.
Then there were the spontaneous and inexplicable moments, like when the theater accidentally double-booked another show on the same night as Holy Fuck and, rather than canceling the show, all the comedians decided to perform it on the roof. “Three weeks later, the fire department came through and set the maximum amount of people [allowed on the roof] to 9,” Ross remembers. “We must have had like a hundred-something people up there.”
Will the magic of Holy Fuck ever be experienced by an audience again? Probably not on a rooftop, but perhaps in a larger venue, and with a new set of producers. “We'll probably have a one-off in a big theater and charge like five bucks,” Ross says. “If that goes well, maybe we'll do that regularly. Maybe we'll tour it.”
Eventually, he hopes to get his friends together and open up a theater, which he envisions as a stand-up version of Upright Citizens Brigade. But for now, he's just trying to figure out what to do with himself next Tuesday night. “I don't think I'll really understand what's going on [with the show ending] until next Tuesday, when for the first time in my entire life, I have nothing to do on a Tuesday.”
The last Holy Fuck is tonight at 9:00 p.m. at the Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St. As always, it's free, but seats will fill up fast.