Look for new laughs at Broadway at the Beach as the Carolina Comedy Club opens its doors Friday, then has a formal grand opening April 1 – no foolin’.
The space formerly known as Stool Pigeons has been converted into Broadway’s first-ever permanent venue for comedy. Jeff Martin, the operations manager, said the interior has been completely gutted and reconfigured for the club, which will seat 150 to 160 people. Those tasks included moving the bar, removing the drop ceiling to make the room 27 feet tall, and setting up a stage low enough that best fits the intimacy of a club atmosphere.
A longtime comedian who owned the former Stand-Up Carolina in Garden City Beach for about two years, Martin said he always had wishes for a Broadway site, and after much negotiating, an invitation for Celebrity Square emerged. Larry Frakes, owner of One Stop Party Shop, heads the proprietary partnership, with Shawn Small, co-host of the morning drive show on WRXZ-FM “Rock” 107.1, as general manager.
“We want to be not just a great comedy club at Broadway at the Beach,” Martin said. “We want to be one of the best comedy clubs in the country.”
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Other elements adding to Martin’s excitement range from a walk-up ticket window, “with a movie theater microphone,” he said, to plans for a full awning outside measuring 60 by 20 feet for additional seating in warmer weather.
Martin said from his first tenure running a club, he concluded “a lot of things” matter, “down to location, location, location, which is a huge thing,” so Broadway at the Beach fulfilled that dream.
Then, taking a building and customizing it, from the walls to the kitchen, Martin said, “this thing has been built from the ground up to host comedy shows,” with a staff of 25 getting ready this past week.
With food in mind, Martin said the club’s Back Stage Bar and Grill, with four chefs, will serve “more high-end food,” and that burgers, for example, will come on old comedy vinyl albums, such as Eddie Murphy’s “Raw,” molded into serving trays.
The club also will branch out into various forms of comedy, with plans for family shows earlier in the evening and for weekend matinees in the summer tourist season, such as with magic by Carl Michael, a part-time entertainer at Broadway at the Beach, and with the Carolina Improv Company this spring.
Adding Improv’s touch
Gina Trimarco-Cligrow, Carolina Improv’s founder and director of training and entertainment, and Martin said they enjoyed partnering on projects with Stand-Up Carolina on cross-Strand shows, and they’re ready to re-engage that formula.
She thinks Improv, based at Uptown in Myrtle Beach mall since 2009, might perform once or twice a week at Carolina Comedy Club, with hopes to start in April. Improv, which she calls a “travelable troupe,” branched out into weekly shows last summer at Broadway’s Froggy Bottomz, generating “great traffic” there and for shows in its home venue.
Trimarco-Cligrow also brought up the importance of presenting family-friendly fare in its “Whose Beach Is It Anyway?” show as regular guests at the new club, especially in its setting in Celebrity Square. She likes the idea of improv starting an evening, then Carolina Comedy will “bring in the stand-up comedians to follow us.”
Martin said to expect “amazing” shows with everyone on stage at the new club.
“We really have some of the best talent in the country who will be here,” he said. “Just right out of the gate ... with Josh Phillips and Todd Yohn, it’s all heavy hitters, all right in a row.”