I did stand-up comedy for two years. Most of that time was spent in some of the sleaziest joints imaginable–Holiday Inn bars in white trash nooks of Florida, shitholes up and down the East Coast. My house club in the Sunshine State was a massive room called Bocanuts that was long and narrow with offensively bad acoustics. Later, in Manhattan, I regularly worked a spot called New York Comedy Club where managers cooked hot dogs on Foreman grills beside the entrance, and comedians had virtually no place to sit and wait before sets.
Whereas some of the fun in performing and attending live comedy shows can be in the humble attraction–squeezing into cramped and cozy rooms like the Comedy Studio in Cambridge or the Comedy Cellar in New York, for example–the novelty of charming dumps has run dry for me. So while the Hub has some ace venues–the Wilbur, for one, is a premier destination for top touring comedians–the new mid-sized Laugh Boston at the Westin on Summer Street in South Boston is a welcome addition. As an avid stand-up fan and former hack opener myself, I’ll even go so far as to peg it as the finest modern comedy venue I have ever seen. And I’ve seen more than most.
The place is ideal from the start, with an entrance that is far away from the stage so that latecomers can slide in without interrupting the show. The chairs and tables, sleek and new, are far enough apart from one another to allow for easy liquor service, while the food–flatbreads and casual fare of that sort–is hardly typical disgusting comedy club grub. On top of that, the sound system is aces, while the room is adequately deep and wide, and has an inner ring of seats that makes for an intimate arena even in the event that the room isn’t filled.
Accoutrements aside, none of that stuff matters if the talent sucks, and my virgin trip to Laugh Boston last week brought the havoc. From opener Don Zollo, to feature Mike Whitman, to headliner Jeff Dye from MTV, I howled and snarfed beer for nearly two hours. Of course, it didn’t hurt that my waitress was able to navigate the floor with ease each time my friends and I needed our glasses filled. Needless to say, we’ll be back.