The mall up the road from me is a freak of nature. It has a bowling alley, an ice rink, a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and multiplex cinema with an IMAX. There’s also a post office, a gym and a dentist’s office. There is even a small grocery store at the end of a long back hallway where they do market research for things like string cheese. I mean, seriously, you could probably live here – especially since they opened the 24 hour IHOP.
So it probably shouldn’t have surprised me a couple of months ago when they opened the comedy club upstairs between the Jamba Juice and the Outback Steakhouse. When they were putting up the signs, I cast a very skeptical eye towards the stock pictures of very famous comedians. Yeah, right, I thought. Like any of those people would be caught dead here in this most mallish of malls. But sure enough, as Darth Vader would say, “People will come.” (Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a James Earl Jones cocktail, but you get the point.) Really big names in the comedy world have been making their way through Levity Live (I’m not making that up – that’s really what it is called.)
Wayne Brady was here in February. I had tickets but got the flu and couldn’t go. The Wayans Brothers are here this weekend. Tom Green, former beaux of Drew Barrymore and 90s MTV icon, will be here in April. Even Tracy Morgan, one of the famous faces from those signs that I scoffed at, did a weekend during the winter.
So what does it all mean? Is this a sad commentary on the state of American comedy? I don’t think so. For me it means that a paying gig is a paying gig and if its a nice place where people will come to see you, why not? It is also a lesson that things don’t have to be slick and cool (because how cool can you be upstairs from the food court?) to be fun. Art and creativity don’t have to be packaged and elitist – especially comedy. I like that these well-known acts will head out to the suburbs and presumably leave their egos in the limo from the airport.
So I say, grab a Big Gulp and head out to the comedy club at the mall, the state fairs, and the Indian casinos. Fun is where you find it.