For the past six months Salt Lake City has had the dubious distinction of being one of the few big cities in America without a comedy club. Now, as if to overcompensate for the months without punch lines, two new clubs are stepping in to fill the void.
Comix opens its doors this weekend at the site of the now defunct Cartoons, 2201 S. Highland Dr. A second comedy club, Papa's Comedy Cellar, will open in about a month in the basement of Papa's Ribs restaurant, 50 W. 500 South.Whether two comedy clubs can survive in a town where Cartoons filed for bankruptcy remains to be seen.
"If you do the right things here, I think two clubs can make it," says a hopeful Mark Frazier, owner of Papa's Comedy Cellar.
Neither Papa's Comedy Cellar nor Comix knew the other was thinking of starting a club when they each began remodeling and lining up talent late this summer. Comix is owned by David Hurst and his wife, Yvonne Ransdell.
Hurst, who worked at Cartoons before it folded last spring, says he plans to advertise more than Cartoons did and hopefully draw a greater variety of customers.
For the grand opening, Hurst and Ransdell are bringing in Denver comedian Vince Curran, plus local comedians John Pack and Theron Reed. All have proved popular with Salt Lake audiences in the past, says Hurst.
Comix will be using a booking agent out of Boise to line up comedians.
Papa's Comedy Cellar will rely on the personal contacts and legwork of Frazier, who formerly owned The Comedy Cellar in Provo. Frazier says he gotten to know a lot of comedians while working as a bodyguard for rock singer Mark Gaines in Los Angeles.
He says most of the acts he books will be "up-and-coming comedians from L.A." He is hoping to lure his friend, comedian Louie Anderson, to the club for the grand opening in early October.
Frazier hopes to draw college and older high school students. Because Papa's Comedy Cellar is a restaurant it does not have a 21-and-older restriction. Comedy will be featured Wednesday through Saturday, with two shows on weekend nights and an amateur night on Wednesdays. Mondays and Tuesdays will be reserved for jazz "and maybe some Monday night football."
Comix will present comedy Tuesdays through Saturdays, with an amateur night on Tuesdays. The Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday shows will begin at 8:30 p.m. There will be two shows on Friday and Saturday nights, at 7:30 and 10:30. Tickets will be $6 - only one dollar more than a movie, notes Hurst.
"I feel Utah really needs a comedy club," he adds. "When Cartoons went under it was like everybody was in a more depressed type mood."