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  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Cover Story

What's so funny?

Five comedians give you some advice

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Photo: , License: N/A

Related Content

Why perform comedy in New York, when Detroit has all you need?

The art of comedy isn't actually funny. For most comedians, it's serious business. 

Think of it as a complex equation that never yields the same answer twice, and "funny" is usually measured by how hard the audience laughed — but even that is subjective.

Why we laugh, and what we laugh at, is as much a mystery as the greatest of mysteries (choose any), and there's not one all-purpose formula to call on for that most visceral of reactions: the laugh. 

No, it's not something that can be cooked up in a laboratory, or taught in a university, though you will find hundreds of classes, seminars, workshops and books on how to deliver the funny to an audience. It's an art form that requires some talent, lots of perseverance and, perhaps, most of all, honesty. We know a good joke when we hear one, and the best jokes are imbued with, at the very least, the ring of truth. We know a good comedian by what they reveal to us, how they make us laugh, how they illuminate human nature, critique our absurdities, and examine the tiny microcosms we wrap ourselves in every day.

While there isn't one reliable formula to tickle the masses, there are some basic guidelines that might make you a funnier human being.

David Dyer, Mike Green, Michael McDaniel, J Chris Newberg and Simply Shanell are five working comedians at the top of their game. Collectively, they have all had national or international exposure, from writing for Jimmy Fallon to appearances on Comedy Central, comedy clubs across the country, opening for major comics such as Lewis Black and Drew Carey, and they all hail from metro Detroit. Above all else, they each have something important to say about the art of comedy, the science of comedy, the comedy of comedy.

They're not guaranteeing a riotous response at that next open-mic night, but a little advice never hurt anyone. And no, you shouldn't quit your day job — no matter how funny your mother says you are.

David Dyer

"How do you get them to laugh?"

The "left turn," I reply. 

It's all in the left turn. 

You lead the audience down a path, and just before they think they know where you're going, you take a left and you keep taking lefts. 

That's what a joke is. It's taking a familiar situation and approaching it from a different angle so you end up somewhere else. Most of us love to be surprised, and that surprise doesn't have to come in the format of a traditional joke. It could be part of a story or a movie. 

Why is The Usual Suspects such a great flick? 

Because for 106 minutes, you kind of think you have it figured out, and then in the last two minutes, you're tossed on your ear. 

For me, there's nothing better than making a person laugh. We live in some pretty rough times right now, especially in Michigan, and for many, there's not a lot to smile about. I've been doing stand-up for 19 years, and I will tell you that my greatest satisfaction still comes from knowing that there's somebody in the crowd who had a rough week. That person decided to come out to the show and, for an hour, I had the privilege of being their escape so they could forget about all that other crap.

I'm a married guy with two daughters and I do a fair amount of material about the three women who surround me. 

An example of the "left turn" comes in the form of a joke I used to do about my youngest daughter. It goes like this: 

There's no love like the love you have for your child, but let's be honest ... there's the other side. I've never been so angry with a human being in my life ... my 6-year-old owes me money. And I feel bad shaking her down about it because ... she's 6. The only source of income she has right now is her teeth. She keeps telling me, "This one's starting to wiggle. Give me another week." "That's what you said last time," I say. A week later, I'll have her pushed up against a wall going, "Bite the apple. Daddy needs his money."


For more information, see or follow @dyercomedy on Twitter.

J Chris Newberg

Comedy is like music. 

Jokes or funny stories all have rhythm, beats and melodies. They also have dynamics and a hook. That said, being funny is an interesting thought. It's the one form of art where not everyone will think you're successful. In fact, you could tell a joke to two people and one might like it, one might hate it and they would both be right. Comedy is subjective. 

Some people are obviously funnier than others and some people will never be funny. I am funny. It's my job. I'm good at it. It evens out though, because I suck at golf.

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