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The Three Ha-Migos

Trio bringing comedy shows to Tacoma

From left, Shelby Dodson, Tosh Firestine and Marquis Carter are bringing the laughs to Tacoma. Courtesy photo

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Tacoma, you're about to get funnier.

And no, we aren't talking about more incessant and played out jokes about the "Aroma of Tacoma."

We are talking about serious, laugh-‘til-it-hurts and asses-fall-off kind of funny.

This is serious funny business for three local lads who love Tacoma, love really good comedy and have figured out a way to blend it all together.

The mission is simple: give locals a helluva good time right in their own backyard.

And the men behind the mission?

Meet the comedy trio of Josh Firestine, Shelby Dodson and Marquis Carter, otherwise known as "The Three Ha-Migos." Comedians, big-time comedy fans and best buddies on and off the stage, the Ha-Migos are passionate about highlighting the best and the brightest rising stars of comedy in the Pacific Northwest and bringing them to Tacoma.

The Ha-Migos have been producing monthly comedy shows in town, which began as a challenge and morphed into something special very quickly.

Firestine credits fellow Ha-Migo Carter for getting the ball rolling.

"It was mostly Marquis' idea. He got into hustle mode, and it just sparked Shelby and me, and we ran with it," said Firestine. "Shelby already had some experience producing and promoting, and it just worked out really well."

Carter explains further.

"The three of us individually have always wanted to put on shows, and then one day, we just challenged ourselves," he said. "In less than a week, we sold out the first show we produced. 

"Our mission is to highlight local comedy. We have no intention of competing with bigger comedy venues in the area. Our vision is to help revive Tacoma comedy so that it can be synonymous with the already well-known Seattle comedy scene."

Finding talent for the shows hasn't been a problem.

"There are so many good comedians in the area," Firestine said.

And then there's the personal comedy work of the Ha-Migos themselves. Their history clicked just as quickly as their comedy production projects. The three became fast friends right from the start.

"We met doing comedy and got together at my house to write once, and we worked really well with each other," explains Dodson.

"We were able to write good jokes and be completely honest with each other," Firestine added. "These guys really bring out a ‘funnier' me."

And what's "funny" to the trio? All admit that a steady dose of making fun of each other, each and every day is pretty damn funny.

Yet despite the fun, all three know that being funny takes work, drive, passion and preparation. It also takes balance, especially for Firestine, an active-duty infantry soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. Carter was a servicemember as well, and is now a veteran of the U.S. Army. Firestine took the plunge into comedy in 2014 while maintaining his military career. Since leaving the service, Carter does comedy full time.

So far, it's been a great ride for the Ha-Migos. What's the most awesome thing about performing? 

The Ha-Migos clearly agree on the best part of being a comedian: getting laughs and interacting with the audience during and after performances.

And what about the hard stuff that comes with the territory? Each Ha-Migo has a different take.

"I'd say writing is the hardest part," explained Firestine. "When you are new to comedy, you just kind of say things you think are funny, but good comedians have a point of view with their jokes or a voice. It's hard to find that and implement it in every joke and still be funny."

Carter shares his thoughts.

"The hardest part is the trial and error of joke writing," he said. "I can write a joke and think it's the greatest thing in the word, but then once I perform it, it won't necessarily hit with the audience. Now I (need to) figure out, was it the material or was it the presentation of the material, and revise or throw away a joke. It's a pretty strenuous process."

Dodson also chimes in.

"The worst part for me is messing up a joke because it could have (gone) well, and you're the reason it didn't.  Plus, it ends the joke right there, with no punch line, and you lose the crowd immediately."

Yet, the Ha-Migos still manage to take it in all stride. They have big plans and goals.

"I'd like to be a full-time comic," Dodson said, "and for our Three Ha-Migos shows, keeping those good and fun."

"If I could control my destiny, I would like to eventually land in films and/or TV shows," said Carter. "A close second is just to have the ability to sell out a weekend at any comedy club across the U.S. at any given time. If neither works, then I would be comfortable being a writer while performing across the nation as well."

"Eventually, I want to be a full-time comedian," said Firestine. "That's my goal.  I would love to write for TV or movies, but my passion is performing.  I would absolutely love to get into acting, but I never want to let go of the stage.  But for now, the goal is to get good enough at comedy to be able to perform anywhere in Seattle and Tacoma, and that is no easy task itself.  

"As for the shows we produce, the goal is to give all these local comedians a chance to perform in front of a bigger audience and help grow the Tacoma comedy scene."

Catch the next Three Ha-Migos production, hosted by Dodson, on April 18 at 9 p.m. at Malarkey's Pool and Brew in Tacoma. Comedian Tyler Smith will be joined by Adam Touchet with special guests Daniel Martinez and Arnold Dilworth. A $10 cover fee gets you in the door.

For more information about the upcoming show and the Three Ha-Migos, visit them at their Facebook page.

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