Sunday, June 8, 2008

Comedy on Central?

I'm in love.

No, erase your first thought there -- that entry is coming in a couple months (stay tuned). But I'm headed in another direction here -- I'm in love with an idea.

Here it is: A comedy club downtown.

I love downtown just as much as you do. I never have to drive and everything is right in front of me -- literally. We've got enough bars, restaurants, and coffee shops to suit every possible taste and palate, ranging from the young college kids who take over the Blue Shamrock on Friday and Saturday nights to the (way) older crowd who gets down to JC's Golden Oldies at Cappy's.

But we're missing a few things. The common laments I often hear are that we're missing clothing retailers and a grocery store. Both are good points.

More important than those, I believe, is the lack of downtown entertainment.

I realize we have the art galleries and the theater, but that mainly appeals to a niche audience and is limited to certain times of day.

I know we lack a movie theater downtown, but I won't hold my breath on that one, as most small movie theaters have given way to major multi-screen googol-plexes that can turn a bigger profit more quickly.

So what do we need? A comedy club. I applaud The Worthen's effort to re-start the Thursday night open mic comedy, but that still doesn't equal a professional comedy club where people can regularly go on weekend nights during the after-dinner hours for entertainment.

As luck would have it, today a friend and I were walking around downtown, and we popped into a barbershop owned by a guy named Bam Savage (yes, that's his real name, and yes, I'm cleared to use it). It turns out he's currently working to open a comedy club on Central Street (just near the Central and Merrimack intersection).

Here's why I love the idea:

1. It adds unique value to the city. Currently, there's no other comedy club anywhere in Lowell. So the addition of a comedy club on Central Street really adds special value to the city in a way that another restaurant, bar, or coffee shop would not. For comedy lovers (like me) it's a dream come true -- a chance to go see an art form that I admire and appreciate by taking a five-minute walk from my front door.

2. It starts to fill the need for downtown entertainment. I know most of this was already stated above, but downtown really needs something like this. I mean, bars and restaurants are only so much of a draw. The theater, the arts, baseball, and hockey are all great, but each appeals to a specific niche and none tend to go on much past midnight, let alone ten p.m.

3. It reaches across the city's entire spectrum of humanity. In Catch-22, Joseph Heller famously wrote, "Laughter is...the shortest distance between two people." Comedy has mass appeal in a way that other art forms don't -- it can appeal to the complete spectrum of age, race, religion, taste, and gender. In a city that celebrates its diversity, how many things *really* bring us all together? Comedy has the power to do that.

4. It will bring the college kids downtown. Living downtown, it can be very easy to forget that Lowell is a college town. Yes, some of the bars attract students, but all are strict ID-checkers. Most college kids are under 21, and are therefore shut out from the bar scene, and thus, from downtown itself. Comedy clubs have the power to tweak their audience based on the nature of a given show -- they can do 21-and-up, 18-and-up, or all ages, depending on the circumstances. This literally gives thousands of college kids a reason they never had before to come downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. You better believe that there will be a spillover benefit for the Mambo Grills of the world.

Like I said at first, I really love this idea. It looks like it may not come into reality until at least a few months from now, but I'll support it in any way I can. Unfortunately, I don't have the mega-bucks to truly *back* it financially (reference a couple entries ago), but I can do my part by showing up, bringing friends, and going to the shows they put on.

And by writing and talking about it to help generate buzz, like I'm doing right now.


KD said...

okay, i'm convinced about this, AND i'm mostly interested in hearing about the (stay tuned) for the "i'm in love" that we are all thinking about... if i miss that post while i'm on course, i'll be so disappointed. send me a hint on my blog or email or something if i miss it. thanks. looking forward to catching up on your posts when i'm back.

The New Englander said...


good luck with your trip...let me know when you get back!