Secret Standup comedy show revived by Willow Creek Theater

Secret Standup, a comedy show with a focus on creating space for students to perform, returns to Iowa City at the Willow Creek Theater with co-hosts Joe Marino and Ian Triplett.

Grace Kreber

A sign outside the Willow Creek Theater on March 9, 2022.


When Secret Standup started in Iowa City, the event was meant to give newbie comics — mostly college students — a place to perform comedy routines. The show took place in unfinished basements, with its location dependent on mere availability.

Years later, in February of this year, Secret Standup found a home above ground – at the Willow Creek Theatre.

Willow Creek occupies the space that was temporarily The Treehouse at 327 S Gilbert St., a space that hosted classes and shows for improv, sketches, and stand-up comedy.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many local businesses had to close their doors to the public, including the treehouse. Willow Creek Theater took over the space in 2021.

Willow Creek artistic director Luke Brooks said that although The Treehouse has disbanded, there is still a working relationship with the people who formed it.

“He’s kind of one of those unfortunate victims of the pandemic,” Brooks said. “We were in communication with all the people [from The Treehouse] doing all different types of programming, and we knew we wanted to keep all the fun and cool aspects of what they all did.

Secret Standup is one such program. Comedian Brigid Martin was a member of Secret Standup prior to its affiliation with The Treehouse. Martin said she was glad the program was able to continue with Willow Creek to give students a space to perform.

RELATED: DITV: Inside “Secret Standup”

Before Secret Standup formed, Martin said the Iowa City stand-up comedy scene wasn’t geared toward students — shows were held at inconvenient times and in spaces where students didn’t feel comfortable. welcome. Most comedy opportunities were aimed exclusively at older communities, in places where younger students — especially those under 21 — couldn’t gain experience.

Secret Standup was intentionally aimed at students with a passion for comedy.

“We really just wanted a space where we could have those kinds of programs and have people who could do that without, you know, putting themselves in environments where they weren’t necessarily comfortable or weren’t necessarily the best environments to work in. “, said Martin.

The current host of Secret Standup is Joe Marino, a senior from the University of Iowa who only recently started doing standup. Prior to Secret Standup’s revival in Willow Creek, Brooks reached out to Marino and asked him to host the student comedy showcase.

While Marino only started attending open mics in September 2021, he has already made a name for himself in the Iowa City community. He said his favorite part of stand-up is being able to hear the audience laughing and sometimes heckling the performer.

“It’s just fun to be able to get out of what [the audience] said and have jokes that only work in this room,” Marino said. “You’ll never really say [that joke] again because it’s just based on that interaction with the audience.

Marino said he was looking forward to reviving Iowa City’s student standing community and had the opportunity to meet some of the past organizers. Currently, Marino is collaborating with former Secret Standup host Ian Triplett to co-host the show.

“[We’re] start bringing back a community that was kind of dead,” Marino said. “It’s cool to see a ton of college students come to Willow Creek to watch Secret Standup and get the students more involved in comedy, honestly.”

Javier E. Swan