Live comedy, a form of entertainment I don’t take advantage of enough. And thankfully I couldn’t say no to some complimentary passes that came my way. Located in the basement of “Century Plaza Hotel”.
Wednesday’s are their “showcase” nights and Thursday’s their “marquee”. Both shows start at 8:30pm, the only difference between the two days, the $5 extra for Thursday. A steeper fee to visit on a more popular evening. The same goes when they have a more visible comedian in to headline. Though at $10 and $15 for regular evenings the cost is fair, especially as it is about the same price you pay for a movie in theatres. Friday and Saturdays have back to back shows 2.5 hours apart, 8pm and 10:30pm. We were here on a Tuesday. Tuesday’s are their “ProAm” days, where amateur and professional comedians take the stage for 10 minute intervals. Though if you ask most comedians, it is difficult to make a living just on jokes. Most use this fact as a punch line.
Tuesday’s are when the most performers take the stage on any night. We saw over six comedians. Some I found extremely funny, others I respected them for being up there. It must take a lot of nerve to be on centre stage, putting yourself out there for strangers to judge. I know I never could do it myself.
Tonight’s evening show started at 8:30pm, they start seating 30 minutes before. Bouncers, managers, and a receptionist. This was a very organized affair. The process reminded me that at a night club. You pay, you get your hand stamped, then wait to be I.D. at the door. All in the yellow light of an underground hall.
By the time we entered the room it was pitch black, majority of the seats were filled, and the stage was well lit. We were one of the lasts to enter, and as a result got saddled with two chairs facing the stage most left. Our view also included the staff walking in shadows to and from the kitchen, and the yellow of the buttered popcorn glowing in the corner.
In the dark room with several tables and chairs, each seat faces the stage and gives you a clear view of who is on it. Be aware of the front row, it is known that this area gives you free rein to be ridiculed. Here the comedians can see you, and they often engage in you, the audience. Depending on their ability to make light of your life, you become a running joke, a part of the act by chance.
Before the show starts wait staff offer the crowd drinks and snacks for a cost and tips. Tips are so important that the host even reminds you to tip well before you leave. I suspect this is how they make most of their money. Here their prices are steeper, a similar markup to the concession at a movie theatre. It might not be the best food, but given they don’t allow outside food and drink you don’t have much of a choice. You get what they have if you like to munch or sip while watching a show. Most items are ones you eat with your hands, it allows for ease in the dark: popcorn, nachos, etc. And to drink, various cocktails with daily specials. The menu is difficult to read in the dark, as it is difficult to attract the attention of a server once the show has begun. I strongly suggest eating and drinking before, like we did, or order one of their drink buckets for enough bottled Coronas sitting in ice to last you the night.
In the almost complete darkness, this definitely isn’t the place where taking photos of your food is appropriate, especially with the need for flash. The food wasn’t anything special anyways, nor were the drinks for that matter. But you are not here to eat, you are here to enjoy some live talent. To be entertained by those with the skill to bring delight through words, and laughter through motion. Once again, it takes courage to do what they do, to put themselves out their like that. I consider the whole thing suspenseful. I am pretty good at putting myself in someone else’s shoes, so the fear I imagine they feel, I feel. How is the audience going to take me? How am I going to do? Will I forget my set?
As for the entertainment factor, a lot of the material is susceptible. Humour varies from person to person. What one chuckles at, another may find offensive. But when one visits a comedy club they should expect to be serenaded with off the cuff quips and plenty of offensive language. Almost nothing is off limits when searching for laughs. Although, sadly I have visited often enough that some of the host’s material was familiar to me. Considering that it must be hard to come up with new material, it is completely understandable. I have only ever seen two different hosts across my several years visiting.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The only down side on an event like this is the time. You never get into the act and then it ends, or you get enthralled with one comedian and the bulb blinks red to tell them their time is done. I never leave satisfied. I never am laughed out.
1015 Burrard Street, Vancouver BC, V67 1Y5