An entry in the Iowa City Police Log social media page portrays the city in a nutshell: “White male in Hawkeye shirt, white shorts, vomiting on church.”
It was one of many entries, which are real from Iowa City police’s activity log, read on Sunday at the Roast of Iowa City. Hosted by Little Village Magazine, the comedy event proved the “Greatest Small City for the Arts” doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Early in the show’s lineup, local comics Spencer Loucks and Gerald Bronson took the stage. The duo parodied the format of NBC’s Saturday Night Live segment, “Weekend Update,” under the name “Shmuckdate” and riffed on local news, such as Iowa City’s first Get Outside! festival held in City Park.
“This was different than the ‘Get Out!’ festival that the University of Iowa throws whenever they buy more property,” the duo riffed.
The Iowa City Department of Transportation’s move to Coralville concerned local residents, and “Shmuckdate”reported it was especially concerning to “people who wanted to renew their license and buy magic crystals at the same time.”
A fire recently broke out in a homeless encampment, and “Shmuckdate”joked that “the ICPD condemned the fire, saying ‘destroying the personal possessions and causing harm to displaced people is our job!’”
Local comic and events manager at Joystick Comedy & Arcade, Travis Coltrain, commented on the strange dichotomy of a wholesome city of the arts as a dually insane party town.
“One time I was walking down by College Green and I literally saw kids playing hopscotch over passed-out drunk dudes,” Coltrain riffed.
The dichotomy spread to local politics. Coltrain noted how many of Iowa City’s liberal and Republican citizens frequent the Jobsite Bar on Maiden Lane.
“I love the Jobsite because you can go there and have the most liberal, nonbinary person talking football with some dude who definitely voted for Trump three years in a row,” Coltrain joked.
Although Iowa City is a college town that welcomes incoming first-years and bids farewell to departing graduates every year, some people have a harder time leaving the city.
“Does anyone know how to leave?” asked Iowa City writer Lauren Haldemanduring her set. “I know there’s an interstate. I always get to it. Every time I’m on the interstate leaving Iowa City, I blink and I’m down Burlington Street.”
Haldeman explained that she had moved to Iowa City in 1997 to pursue her undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa and then the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for her graduate degree. She is the author of several books, including “Instead of Dying,” a poetry collection that won the Colorado Prize for Poetry in 2017.
“Living here, I go through cycles where I just hate it,” Haldeman said in a post-show interview with The Daily Iowan. “I really do just hate it. I can’t believe I’m still here. I don’t understand how to get out.”
Haldeman began her comedy career after finding that she enjoyed interacting with audiences during her book tours and enjoyed making others laugh through her comic, “Boymom,” as seen on her Instagram, and the monthly edition of The Little Village.
During the beginning of her journey as a comic, a friend told her about a new improv conservatory with the local Willow Creek Theatre Company. She took some classes and later joined the improv group Lady Franklyn, one of the first professional improv groups in Iowa City.
“I feel like Iowa City is almost like this intelligent entity that is keeping me and other people, and it just creates new opportunities and reasons to stay,” Haldeman said, despite sharing a different sentiment during her sets.
Regardless of the insulting nature of the roast, audience members remain endeared by the city they call home.
“We like making fun of Iowa City because it’s such an easy place to make fun of,” said attendee Jan Stephan, who has lived in Iowa City for 20 years, but that “you can only [roast it] if you live here.”