Amber Falter brings Beef Ghost back from the dead

Following a year in which she largely avoided comedy, the local stand-up is eager for a return to the stage

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Beef Ghost

When Amber Falter first conceived of Beef Ghost in 2018, she envisioned the mysterious comedy pop-up taking place on a quarterly basis. 

In the end, though, Falter hosted the event just once before sending it to an early grave, with the stand-up tracing its demise in part to the challenges involved in transforming a meat processing plant owned by her family into a space suitable for an evening of comedy.

Recently, though, Falter decided to resurrect Beef Ghost, focusing more on the spirit of mystery that fueled its initial creation than the physical space in which the event is held.

“I was thinking about it a lot during COVID, and I was like, ‘You know, Beef Ghost can be anything. Beef Ghost can be anywhere.’ ... It’s just going to pop up when the time is right, and it’s always going to be at a different, unexpected venue," said Falter, who will perform at the reborn pop-up today (Wednesday, July 7) alongside fellow comics Mitch Rose, Ty Moore, Dan Sebree, Phil Pointer and Bettina Hedwig. (Tonight’s show is sold-out, but you can keep up with future Beef Ghost announcements by following Falter on Instagram here.)

Falter traced the roots of Beef Ghost to the thrill she experienced receiving a birthday invitation in the mail as a child. “I remember holding this little invite, and getting a sticker, and my parents taking me to this address, driving me to the party,” Falter said. 

For Beef Ghost, Falter recreates this sensation for attendees. After completing the initial online purchase, each ticket holder is mailed an envelope containing a souvenir ticket, a map to the secret show location and, of course, stickers. “Because it doesn’t matter how old you are, everyone loves stickers,” said Falter, who compared the process of creating these mailings with assembling save-the-dates for a wedding.

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In addition to resurrecting Beef Ghost, Falter is also helping launch a new weekly comedy showcase at Rambling House, which will take place every Tuesday beginning on July 27 and is tentatively titled either Freaks With Beaks or Freaks and Beaks, in reference to Furby, a popular child’s toy from the late ’90s. Falter said this current creative outpouring is the result of reconnecting with comedy following a coronavirus-shaped year during which she completely distanced herself from the form.

“During COVID, I was so detached from comedy, in both good and bad ways,” Falter said. “I remember being so stressed out in February [of 2020]. … I was overworked, and I think there was a huge lack of self-care. I was really grinding, but I wasn’t leaving the stage feeling proud anymore.”

With the stage taken away, Falter largely refrained from writing any new material, instead investing her energies to create a weekly talk show in which she conducted nostalgic interviews with friends.

“I’d ask, ‘What are those moments from your childhood that still make you feel creative, even when the world is as bleak as it is at the moment?’” said Falter, adding that having a new recording to look forward to each week eased the encroaching sense of loneliness she felt. “Everyone had so many different emotions and experiences with COVID, but I just really needed to connect with people. Usually I’d be onstage or bartending, where I was always surrounded by people, and not having that was super difficult.”

As another means of coping, Falter took up painting with watercolors, saying that the practice had the needed effect of quieting her brain for long stretches. Beginning in February, though, Falter started to see some “light at the end of the tunnel,” as she explained it, which eventually led her to start jotting down potential new jokes in the notes app on her phone.

Coming back to comedy, Falter said she has noticed a slight shift in her approach, with newer bits attempting to bridge two of the comedic worlds she had explored independently in the past.

“When I first started stand-up, I was grieving my mother, and I had a bunch of very dark jokes about growing up with her and her addiction,” Falter said. “And then, after that, I just wanted to be lighthearted and silly, because so much of my life is that, and I just wanted to be playful for a while. 

“Now, after COVID, I want to be completely comfortable with just being Amber. … And with that, I do have a lot of dark trauma in my past, and I do struggle with anxiety and depression. But I also think you can talk about those things in a lighthearted, silly, fun way. … Before I didn’t think you could merge the two together, but you absolutely can. Or at least I’m going to try. So I might go from a dead mom joke all the way to a dog fart joke. I wouldn’t say it’s well-rounded, but it’s definitely me.”