For the past six months, one-liners have been flying every Monday at the Urban Saloon for an open-mic comedy night that highlights local comics, a number of whom will return later this month for a new stand-up showcase.
To celebrate the six-month launch of the open-mic event, creators Mary Radzinski and Carolyn Busa are launching the Laughs on Fairmount Showcase Show, from 8-10 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the venue, 2120 Fairmount Ave.
The $10 showcase will feature local comics Sean Preston, Nicole Yates, Noah Goldstein, John Kensil and headliner Pat House.
Radzinski and Busa, both comics themselves, met at the Urban Saloon several years ago during an open-mic night and, as members of the small club of Philadelphia female comics, struck up a quick friendship and began brainstorming for new comedic ventures.
“We were thinking of starting a room for an open-mic on a night when there wasn’t much going on in the city,” Radzinski said. “Urban Saloon’s open-mic had petered out, but we knew they had a great room and we wanted to provide a place where people could come and try out their jokes in a warm environment. So once we both got the time to put into this, we approached the owners and they were really gracious and thought it was a great idea.”
While open-mic events are relatively common in the city, LOF offers several components not found elsewhere, the organizers said.
Many open-format comedy shows will stretch until the early-morning hours, but LOF keeps it shorter, usually wrapping up by about 10:30 p.m.
“Some open-mics will go until at least 1 a.m., but we wanted to try and get everyone out earlier but still pack in all the comics we could to keep it exciting,” Busa said.
The show, which is free, does not take place directly in the bar area, which Radzinski said provides an ideal atmosphere.
“Our room is separated from the bar, so the room’s given straight to comedy, which is really great,” she said. “We know that all of the people who are in the room want to be watching a comedy show. Sometimes at open-mics, you’re in that bar environment where there are TVs and everybody talking and maybe people who didn’t know they were coming to a comedy show. But everyone here wants to be here.”
Usually at least 25 entertainers take to the stage during the show, some of whom return week after week and others who are new to the venue.
Since its March launch, LOF also has continued to build a following of what Radzinski jokingly calls “civilians” — those folks who themselves were not granted the stand-up gene but who come for the free laughs.
“Every night has been good, but we always find something to pick at and work on because we’re really hard on ourselves,” Busa said. “So we’ve been really working to grow the audiences and getting people to come back each week, and it’s been working well.”
Now that LOF has gained traction, the pair thought the time had come to explore a new format that celebrates the blossoming comedy scene in Fairmount.
“We’ve established this room and been working to build up Fairmount’s reputation for comedy, so we thought there could be a good weekend opportunity there,” Radzinski said of the Showcase Show.
The event will feature a “cross section” of the open-mic show, with a mixture of frequent LOF performers, those who are newer to the comedy scene and veterans.
Busa said the atmosphere at the showcase will be somewhat different than the weekly open-mic nights.
“Our hope is to have the showcase be like a full comedy show,” she said. “We’ll have a bar back there and a waiter coming around for drinks, and we want to have a big full audience because this is the real deal. And it’s great that Urban Saloon is supporting us in this.”
Busa and Radzinski are aiming for the showcase to be held monthly, with different performers each time around.
Radzinski noted that both the Showcase Show and the weekly open-mic can work hand-in-hand to generate buzz about the future of Fairmount’s comedy scene.
“We want the showcase to celebrate what the room has become and by drawing people in on the weekend show, hopefully we can get even more people to stop in for our Monday night shows,” she said. “We’re really excited and thankful for all of the support we’ve gotten and are looking forward to something really big.”
For more information, search for Laughs on Fairmount on Facebook.••