The best medicine isn’t an over-the-counter antidote. You can’t cure a bad case of the blues with anything your pharmacist can give you. There is only one thing that is good for what ails you, and that is simply looking on the bright side and not being afraid to laugh at life’s little ironies and obstacles. It’s what keeps parents going when their kids have worn them out long before bedtime. It’s how we let go of the stress of a long and trying day. We even ease the mourning process when losing loved ones by thinking back on all of the good times. Yes, laughter is a cure for so many things, and it is absolutely free.
Comedy, especially stand-up, has been a means of supplying people with their prescription for good feelings since the dawn of entertainment. From the jesters in the courts of ancient kings to modern-day comedians, there have always been those brave souls that are willing to get up before any crowd, big or small, to help them forget about the bad things by making them laugh.
Here in Pensacola, we have such a wide variety of entertainers and musicians that keep us entertained on a nonstop basis. We are very lucky in that respect. However, stand-up comedy has remained curiously obscure. Sure, you could catch the occasional comedy night at Seville Quarter, or a big name touring act at the Saenger Theatre, but what about the local front? We know that the Gulf Coast is a veritable gold mine of music and artists, but what about comedians?
Fret not, good readers, for there is indeed an uprising upon us. For the past year, a small group of fearless funny people have been working on building a comedy scene here in Pensacola, as well as along the entire Gulf Coast region, even if it kills them. “Open Mic” events have been popping up at bars and clubs all over the place recently. The only problem is, nobody really hears about it. There are plenty of folks out there who would be interested in either catching a good comedy show, or even trying their hand at shtick, but by the time they hear about it, it’s over.
Matt Moseley is one of the local comedians who, along with like-minded pals, are hungry to get themselves, and most importantly, comedy, out there as a viable source of local entertainment.
“I was around 10 years old, I think, when I first became interested in stand-up and comedy in general. It was always something that I’ve been sort of fascinated by; I just never really had the balls to do it. Hell, there were no places to do it, even if I wanted to,” says Moseley. “Then a place called Savanna Blue (now closed) opened up and I saw that they were having comedy nights. I decided to go check it out and thought, ‘I can do this.’ So I went up and did seven or eight minutes, and I fell in love with it. I met a few more comedians that wanted to do more, so we decided to work together on setting up more shows at different places.”
Savanna Blue’s days were short lived, but the idea was firmly planted. Through tireless work and endless schmoozing, the local comics began convincing bar owners to let them do comedy at their establishments. The only problem after that was convincing people to come—and stay.
“It’s been hit or miss so far. It’s hard to get this stuff across and have people wanting to come see us.”
Moseley goes on, “This guy Kirby Hullett set up a night at Coyote’s Sports Bar, which has been doing pretty well actually, but that place is already popular. Shooters in Cordova Lanes was open to doing comedy after Alan Shaw talked to them and set up an open mic. We do Shooters every Thursday as sort of a workshop for trying out new material. They love us up there and we are very thankful for them giving us a chance. Now, there are a lot more venues opening their doors to us, but you can never tell what the crowd is going to be like, you just have to go out there and treat it like a packed house each time. As long as I have a stage and someone to listen, I’m cool with that.”
It’s true. More venues around the area have been giving comedy a shot, with places like Brews Brothers, Big Easy Tavern, Helen Back, and even The Handlebar hosting local jokesters, but it’s been a struggle to find the right crowds. Nevertheless, the proud gut busters go up and do it whether anyone likes it or not.
“You’re going to have to deal with hecklers any time you are doing this,” says Karry Johnson, another comedian here in Pensacola, by way of Liverpool, England. “It depends on what kind of heckler you have as to how it turns out for you. Sometimes, someone might shout something at you that you can feed off of and play to your advantage. It actually helps you out a little. You have to watch out though—sometimes you get the kind of idiots who want to try and ruin your entire show. I once did a set at Paddy O’Leary’s, and this guy was right up in my face talking smack. It took a lot to keep my cool on that one, but it’s all part of the business. For the most part, those who have seen the local comics have loved it and had a great time.”
Johnson continues, “Personally, I love doing this, and I am passionate about it. I happen to know that most of the comedians in the area feel the same way I do. We’re doing what we can to let people know, hey, we’re here and we want to make you laugh.”
You hear that, Pensacola? They’re here and ready to make you laugh. Are you ready to accept? While the Gulf Coast comedy scene claws its way up and earns the respect of those who scour this city in search of quality entertainment, it probably wouldn’t hurt to give you a good idea as to where you can find them and their kind. There are more and more places to catch comedy, so here are some places to start.
Smile, it’s free!
REGULAR OPEN MIC EVENTS
Shooter’s at Cordova Lanes
2111 Airport Blvd.
Every Thursday Night
9 p.m. No Cover
Coyotes Sports Bar
5030 Bayou Blvd. #B
Every Last Wednesday of the Month
9 p.m. No Cover
UPCOMING COMEDY SHOWS
Comedy Night at Brews Brothers
8030 N. Navy Blvd.
Every Second Wednesday of the Month
9:30 p.m. No Cover
The New Comedy Central
(Featuring three local comedians)
9:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28
Helen Back Again
8651 Navarre Parkway
$5 18 and up
(Three bands, Six Comedians)
Featuring Drayton Sawyer, X-Ray Vision and Unnatural Soundz with six local comics
9 p.m. Friday, April 1
Big Easy Tavern
710 N. Palafox St.
8:30 p.m. Friday, March 25
Phineas Phogg’s at Seville Quarter
130 E. Government St.
No Ticket Info Yet
GULF COAST COMEDY PAGES