It wasn’t that long ago that Nanaimo’s comedy scene was gasping for air.
In 2013 one of the few venues that hosted comedy nights was closing its doors. That’s when Andrew Roberts, the founder of Got Pop? Concerts, came up with an idea.
“There was about eight to 10 comics locally that would do shows once a month at the old Globe location … and they were closing up,” Roberts said.
Roberts, who had previously attracted comedic acts like Pauly Shore and Charlie Murphy to the city, began searching and landed on the downstairs portion of the Acme Food Co.
“It was a perfect room, it was small, intimate but not in a bar setting,” Roberts said.
In May of that year the very first Laugh Lounge was held at the Acme Food Co.
The once-a-month comedy event typically includes two show times, a headlining act and as many as six other comedians. Each show time typically lasts anywhere from 60 to 95 minutes.
Roberts said the structure is designed to break down the misconceptions about local comedy shows.
“I found was that a lot of people, when they think of comedy shows, they think of open mics and amateurs,” Roberts said. “But we get try and get one good headliner to do 45 minutes so it is a professional show.”
As a result, dozens of comedians including Peter Hudson, Kim Strynadka and Lil Cory, Jenelle Dmytruk, Nick Schols, Scott Goglin, Deanna Wood can regularly practise their craft in front of a local audience.
Nanaimo comedian Malcolm Wright, who has been part of the Laugh Lounge lineup since it started, says the Laugh Lounge has allowed him to meet other comedians.
“Laugh Lounge has been great,” Wright said. “You meet other comedians, you meet local guys, you meet guys from out of town, you meet guys who have been on the road for 15 years.”
Fellow Harbour City comedian Darryl Shaw says the Laugh Lounge has helped grow comedy in the city and provided a stable place for comedians to build their craft.
“I think it has been a fantastic venue for Nanaimo …. I think it is really grown. I have been there when there have been some really small crowds and I have been now when the rooms are packed almost every time and as a Comedian there is nothing more that we want to see than a packed room,” Shaw said. “To us it is a regular spot to go to. There is nothing worse having occasional shows and not knowing when they are.”
As a result of Acme’s closure, the Laugh Lounge relocated to the Old City Station Pub’s banquet room.
“It’s a great room. It is much bigger than the AcMe and the sight lines are perfect. It’s a great room for comedy because it is not in the pub, it is in the room beside it,” Roberts said.
Both Shaw and Wright say without the Laugh Lounge, the local comedy scene would be almost non-existent.
“It would be pretty dead,” Wright said.
The next Laugh Lounge features Garrett Clark with Jason Lamb and others on Friday (Dec. 11) at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Tickets are $10 and available at the pub or www.ticketzone.com.