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Branson In the Spotlight: Comedy Jamboree

A Series by Discover Branson

4 minute read

A signature Branson show hosted at Grand Country Music Hall, Comedy Jamboree is considered to be one of the most consistently hilarious shows in town, and for very good reason. Smart writing, engaging characters, talented dancers, stunning vocalists, and a band of expert instrumentalists make Comedy Jamboree an absolute must-see. Howls of laughter will erupt throughout the room as viewers experience performances from comedians Applejack, Stretch McCord, and Andy Parks. Delivered with impeccable timing, the show’s comedic stylings are similar to those of Saturday Night Live and Weird Al. The writing in Comedy Jamboree never stoops to vulgarity, but rather opts for clever, clean, and topical jokes to amuse crowds of all ages. Also appearing in the show are the Jamboree Singers; Tracy Heaston, Grand Country’s phenomenal pianist; and the award-winning Grand Band. 

Each comedian plays an important part in making Comedy Jamboree a comedic triumph. Shannon Thomason, who plays the part of Applejack, has spent over two decades in the Branson entertainment space. Originally from Louisiana, Thomason’s father owned and operated a cotton warehouse, while his mother worked as a bookkeeper for a furniture store. Having a liking for theater, Thomason’s parents would put on theatrical productions throughout his childhood: one play in the spring and one play in the fall. Thomason acted in many of these productions, and at a young age began building a foundation of on-stage comfortability. As he got older, Thomason recognized that he was meant to pursue a career in entertainment. After moving to the Ozarks in 2000, Thomason starred in Smoke on the Mountain at the Mel Tillis Theatre. The following year, he began starring in the saloon show at Silver Dollar City, working a whopping seven to eight shows every day. For the past several years, he has written material for and starred in Comedy Jamboree at Grand Country Music Hall. 

Elusive in nature, comedy is one of the most difficult art forms in which to find success. One could propound that funniness falls into “you either have it, or you don’t” territory. In Thomason’s case, he really does possess that uncanny gift of being naturally funny. He generates witty retorts and insightful commentary at a rapid rate, which is fun and impressive to watch in the candid setting of Comedy Jamboree. When analyzing a current event or subject, Thomason comments, “I’m a sociologist. I have to see all sides. I gotta make fun of it.” The complexities of an artist’s creative process are tough to succinctly describe, but it is clear that Thomason’s comedy is shaped through deep rumination. 

Thomason develops his craft using a variety of techniques. He acknowledges the value in studying the work of other comedians to garner ideas for his own material. “I like to keep up with [the comedy business]. I want to know [comedians’] process and I want to hear all [the industry] stuff.” A major way that Thomason constructs his comedic ideas is through listening to podcasts. He finds it beneficial to listen to the Joe Rogan Experience; Joe Rogan is a podcast host and stand-up comedian who frequently and openly discusses his own comedic writing process. Thomason names two regular guests featured on the Joe Rogan Experience, Bert Kreischer and Tom Segura, as comedians who interest him. “Long-form podcasts–not shows with producers and writers and things–just [people] talking, that’s where you get the real [information].” An awareness of what’s happening in comedy is essential, and this can propel comedians to think further outside the box. Most comedians, like Thomason, have a great deal of integrity and understand that originality is instrumental to the development of strong material. “Be your own person, right? The world would be boring if we were all the same,” Thomason says, brilliantly articulating the necessity for independent thought.

A philosophy that applies in many art forms–“less is more”–is also relevant in comedy. When asked which of his skills has been the most vital to his career, Thomason, equipped with impeccable deadpan, says, “A sense of humor.” He then states that, “...[knowing when] not to talk,” has been key to his success as a comedian and as a Branson performer. “It’s not so much about what [one] says as [it is] knowing when not to say something. As much as [one] talks, like for stand-up, learning when not to keep going– that’s the hard part. And I’m still learning every day.” Thomason’s active dedication to refining his material is just one of the many reasons why Comedy Jamboree at Grand Country Music Hall is a Branson show you won’t want to miss. 

For those in search of energetic entertainment featuring comedy, live music, and dancing, this is the show for you. Comedy Jamboree is performed at Grand Country Music Hall every afternoon at 3pm. For showtimes on other shows being performed at Grand Country Music Hall, contact Discover Branson for the lowest-priced tickets you’ll find anywhere in town. 

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