80 Hours: Iowa City's comedy scene takes off with help of local comedians
Down a dimly lit staircase, an eerie-looking basement emerges. Once a mortuary, the brick building is now filled with laughter.
The cause? Comedy.
“The Catacombs of Comedy” at the Yacht Club is the hub for performers in the local comedy scene. The historic building was once the location of Hohenschuh Mortuary; it became the original Yacht Club in the ’80s, and then, in 2003, it became what it is today.
Three years ago, the “little comedy scene that could” had not been conceived. Now, with the help of comedian Tom Garland and a few other local stars, it has flourished with hopeful performers eager to make a big break. Garland, a former Daily Iowan TV reporter, got his comedic start at the Yacht Club and the Penguin Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids. He is the regular host of the venue’s open-mike nights, held every Monday at 10 p.m.
Not only has Garland helped kick-start the local comedy scene, his career has also taken off; last year, he met actor/writer/comedian/stuntman “Steve-O” Glover at the First Avenue Club, 1550 First Ave. Glover, who is perhaps most well-known for his comedic stunts in the movie and TV series Jackass, has performed with comic Tom Green in the Starlite Theater in the Rivera Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
In an email interview, Glover said he was “beyond impressed” with Garland’s material the second time they met. The two remained in touch, and recently Garland asked Glover for the opportunity to perform with him and Green. Garland met with the show’s promoters, and the deal was set. He spent four nights earlier this month working in Vegas with the famous duo.
“Garland is a funny comic, but what’s been winning everyone over more than anything is the enthusiasm and gratitude he has to be working with us,” Glover said. “If you ask me, he’s doing everything right.”
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