The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Don’t Tell Comedy hosts confidential night of laughs in IC

The secret comedy show, held in the Highlander Hotel, invited TikTok-famous comedian Chris Schlichting as the headliner among other local talent.
Lua Rasga
Comedian Chris Schlichting performs his set during Don’t Tell Comedy’s event at the Highlander Hotel in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 17th, 2023.

On Friday, the Highlander Hotel acquired a plethora of guests in its ballroom for an atypical occasion — a top-secret comedy show. 

Don’t Tell Comedy, a now-global organization, brought comedic secrecy to Iowa City. For those who purchased tickets, both the location and the four performers were not announced until the night of the event. 

Karen Sanchez Dougall, the host of the Iowa City show and a comedian herself, spoke to some of the hidden values a secret comedy show has to offer. 

“You never know who will be on the lineup. It could be a touring comedian or someone who’s been on TV,” Sanchez Dougall said. “The element of surprise definitely keeps things spicy.” 

The confidential aspect of the show may turn away some potential attendees who want to know who they’re going to see. However, a show like this can be enticing for those looking for a surprise.  

In terms of the secret comedy group’s process for choosing locations, Sanchez-Dougall, who goes by Sanchez on stage, shared that they go for places that wouldn’t typically host comedy shows. 

“We did one at a llama farm this October, and we’re sitting in a hotel ballroom right now,” she said. “You don’t really see comedy at places like this very often.” 

Sanchez Dougall further recalled a Don’t Tell performance that took place at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines, underscoring the fact that participants are in for a surprise no matter where they attend one of their shows. 

When the show began, Sanchez Dougall was the first to take the stage, with her impressive opening act serving as an indicator of the fun the audience would have for the night. As the host, she effectively maintained the hype of the crowd throughout the evening. 

RELATED: College town comedy — Standup comedy bounces back in Iowa City 

Following her performance, Sanchez Dougall introduced the hilarious Des Moines local Val Cumming, a comic whose 18+ set made the crowd erupt in laughter for much of her time on stage.  

Before the headliner was the tremendously impressive, lesser-known comic Carson Tuttle, a performer who has honed his act to an almost flawless point.  

Tuttle’s self-proclaimed “camp counselor energy” and routine about life as a middle school teacher was beloved by the audience. 

Lastly, the headliner, with more than 2 million likes and tens of thousands of followers on TikTok, Chris Schlichting performed and was the highlight of the night as measured in laughs.   

Powering through technical difficulties with his mic, Schlichting made the crowd laugh with on-stage improvisation, callbacks to previous comics’ jokes and the weirdness of the venue itself. 

Schlichting, a man with great timing and improvisational talent, spoke on his career, the challenges that come with being a relatively “clean” comedian, and his relationship with Don’t Tell Comedy. 

Being a teacher as well, Schlichting shared that being a clean comic has been beneficial to his career as it provides more opportunities for work. 

“It’s almost more of a challenge to stay clean sometimes,” he said. “But I have kids and I’m always trying to make them laugh so it’s not the hardest part of the job, that’s for sure.

The love for the craft is ever-present within Schlichting’s act. Every second on stage he seemed to be having the time of his life. In terms of his experience with secret comedy shows, the comic felt the uniqueness of the venue presented a challenge he had fun exploring. 

“When you go into a comedy club you kind of know the routine, you know what to expect,” Schlichting said. “It’s kind of thrilling because here no one knows what they’re getting.” 

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About the Contributors
Caden Gantenbein
Caden Gantenbein, Arts Reporter
Caden Gantenbein is a screenwriting major as well as a film minor. He is a junior starting this fall and this is his first semester at the DI.
Lua Rasga
Lua Rasga, Photojournalist
Lua Rasga is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Cinematic Arts. She’s a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan. She comes from Sao Paulo, Brazil with previous experience in filmmaking.