As the dying art of stand up comedy struggles with the relentless bombardment of social media— where memes often take the place of one-liners— the Toledo comedy scene has survived and flourished. Despite the loss of Laff’s comedy club on Secor Road almost a year-and-a-half ago, new venues have opened and a long list of entertainers and bar owners have stepped in to fill the void.
Shawn Thomas (The Distillery), your author (Parkway Sports Bar & Grill, Downtown Johnny’s, Crox Bar & Grill), Keith Bergman (Ottawa Tavern), Cody Wandersee (Bier Stube), as well as Mike Szar and Anthony Martinez (Royal Hookah) have all assembled their own version of free comedy by opening rooms around town. This gives standups a place to perform new work while inviting first-timers to the stage to see if they have “what it takes.”
Comedy, a great equalizer, invites diverse crowds and comedians because, above all, laughter is one of our greatest defense mechanisms. One of the world’s purest arts, as old as speech, humans have used laughter to heal their hardships and revel in shared experiences, as authored by insightful storytellers.
From all walks of life
Bergman explains the business of running a comedy show: “Reaching out to comics from other cities to come and perform is as important as stage time.” Networking puts people together that otherwise would not be, thus creating new opportunities and opening unknown doors. Unusual for a competitive industry, this group genuinely has the desire that each other do well, on the hope one of us could be the next comic genius. Making people laugh is the passion of these men and women that perform, spending countless hours writing and traveling. Some with the hopes of fame, others with just the aspiration of bringing a little joy to their audiences, however big or small. Without promising that you will remember their faces or see their names on the marquee at a major arena, if you attend these shows, you will be entertained.
Joy again in Hensville
The return of the Hensville’s Rooftop Comedy Series, starting Thursday, June 22, is sure to bring laughs and giggles. The series will bring seven comics from the Toledo region to the stage on five Thursdays this summer: June 22, July 20, August 3, August 31 and September 14. Each show is free and goes from 8-9:30pm.
June 22’s show includes headliner Lauren Uchalik, a Detroit comedy mainstay and noted roller derby performer. The lineup is rounded out with comedians Wes Ward, Anthony Martinez, Erich Laux, Andrew Yang, Dylan House, and emcee Jon Ruggiero.
Ruggiero, a local comic, looks forward to hosting: “I’m happy we are getting another round of these great, high-profile rooftop shows. It’s good for the lesser-known comedy scene in the area to let Toledo know we exist.”
Hensville’s Rooftop Comedy Series kicks off on Thursday, June 22. 8-9:30pm. Free
Fleetwood’s Rooftop, 28 N. St. Clair St., 419-724-2337. Hensvilletoledo.com