Art

Local Comedians Challenge the Status Quo to Bring Unique Live Comedy to South Florida

“My message to the comedians who let a bad audience reaction get them down? ‘Cheer up! You’re an entertainer, for God’s sake!'" 

Native Floridian, Ethan Moore, "grinds" the open mic scene (slang for doing as many unpaid gigs as one can in a week for the express purpose of polishing jokes).

"The money isn’t as good with comedy," says Moore. "At least not yet. But it’s honest work, and for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m on the right track."

Moore struggled with addiction to both alcohol and opiates throughout his life before finally getting clean a few years ago. Despite his battles, Moore still managed to attain a master’s degree in world religion and ethics and even became a college professor, teaching religion and philosophy in Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam for six years before finally returning to Florida in 2014.


But his true passion was still calling to him and finally gave up his career education to become a full-time stand-up comic and podcaster based in Fort Lauderdale. 

"After I got clean and sober, it started to fall into place for me that this was what I needed to be doing."

Moore says that telling jokes onstage night after night isn’t easy, but it’s the best thing to do in order to learn the craft. "Time is never wasted on stage," says Moore.

While new comics typically try to make it into popular clubs, Moore decided he wanted to get his name out there in a different way. While he does make the club rounds, he also produces his own podcast live at Awa Na Kava Lounge in Fort Lauderdale.

There he had the freedom to develop his comedic voice without the worry of selling tickets or pleasing club managers. He quickly began inviting comedians, actresses, and just ordinary people to talk into the microphone and the podcast has taken on a life of its own. 

Today, Sex on Kava attracts thousands of listeners and sponsorship from local businesses in South Florida.

"We really didn’t expect it to blow up the way it has," says Moore. The recipe for success has been a combination of interesting guests, interaction from the in-house kava drinking audience, co-hosts fellow comedians Eric Rosenblum and Maymay Durand, who plays the resident newsgirl. In addition to straight up laughs, they've also hosted guest therapists and once conducted an intervention on the air for one of the comics struggling with alcoholism.

"It’s a crazy podcast," says Moore. "Awa Na Kava is a great, weird place, and anything can happen there. Girls hit on the male comedians. We’ve had guests send provocative photos to other comedians on the air, all live. Maymay Durand is fantastic and always manages to find the most boundary-pushing sex stories in the news. Nothing’s off limits. Cannibalism, bestiality, robot sex. And we find it funny.”"

Recently, Moore teamed up with another credentialed professional turned comic, Dr. Anna Lepeley. In addition to comedy, a common interest in addiction issues helped bring the pair together, with Lepeley publishing a book on alcoholism. She's also opened for Steve-O of MTV's Jackass.
"Anna’s great," says Moore. "We just met a few months ago, but it was kismet. We’re both highly educated but prefer to talk about dumb stuff all the time. We both want to make the world a better place through comedy, but we’re not political. We both hate intolerance but we’re not assholes about it. We’re both very pro-love and pro-sex. And we both date women"

Recently, Moore and Lepeley took to the road with their unique blend of personal charisma, brutally honest comedy, and self-improvement. Through July they'll be stopping in venues throughout the Southeast including Charleston, Atlanta, Savannah, New Orleans, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Pensacola. They’re calling it the Butch and Femme Comedy Tour.

“We created the Butch and Femme Comedy brand initially as a joke,” says Moore. "Anna says she is butch all the time. She's not that butch, though. She's a lesbian that changes her oil but can dress up for a wedding and it can sometimes confuse the hell out of people. I'm kind of known as being an effeminate heterosexual guy. So I'm femme and she's butch; that's the joke. But we are dead serious about challenging stereotypes."

Unlike a typical comedy tour, they’re not only hitting up the comedy clubs. Instead, they're playing a mixture of gay bars, coffeehouses, dive bars, brewpubs, and strip clubs. And instead of flying, they’ll be mostly driving.

"It’s kind of a DIY thing. We’re both pretty well-known in South Florida, and a couple of cities further north, but this is the first time we’re really going for a serious tour and hoping to expand our audience."

As such, there's not really a tour schedule and you'll have to stay tuned to their Facebook page to keep up with dates and locations. Also in keeping with their unusual methods, Lepeley and Moore are using Tinder to recruit girls to come to the shows.  

"Ethan has a different approach to Tinder than I do," says Lepeley. "I’m a very particular fisherman, while Ethan casts an extremely wide net and swipes right at almost anything (frequently bringing in a few old tin cans and license plates).  But it is working! We’re getting lots of girls to show up, and once you’ve got the girls attending, the guys seem to follow."

A success so far, the tour continues to make its way through the Southeast.

"The Butch and Femme tour has been welcomed with open arms so far in the deep south," says Moore. "Between shows, we've made a few people uncomfortable in restaurants with our debaucherous conversations. We've been enjoying entertaining our audiences, working with great local comics, and making new friends."

When in town in Moore and Rosenblum, co-produce a free local stand-up show called Havana HAHAs every Monday night at 8 p.m. at Havana Hideout (509 Lake Ave,, Lake Worth). You can catch live tapings of the Sex on Kava podcast Saturday nights at Awa Na Kava Lounge (2762 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) or visit sexonkava.podbean.com or iTunes for past episodes. Both continue in Moore's absence. 

Follow Moore on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat with the username @ethanisnotfunny.  Follow Lepeley on Instagram or Snapchat with the username @dr_lepeley.  Follow Rosenblum on Twitter @laughwitheric. Follow Durand on Facebook.
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