Again, I have no idea where Dave gets some of these pictures for GLB articles. This one’s pretty funny though.
When I spoke to comedian Dave Conolly, he was at some cheap hotel up North, drving through sheets of snow, no doubt with white knuckles, on a small-town U.S. tour.
Originally published on Greater Long Beach- 01/23/2012: http://greaterlongbeach.com/23/01/2012/looks-like-theyve-got-some-funny-business-planned-for-downtown-saturday
By Jimmy Dolan
January 23, 2012|Bars & Clubs
When Dave Conolly came to America from England, the original plan didn’t include revisiting his stand-up comedy career. Then, the economy.
Conolly spent last week on a brief Western-states tour, playing small comedy clubs in places called Wenatchee and Lewiston and Richmond. Tonight he’s in La Jolla. After that, Conolly has no shows until Saturday in downtown Long Beach, where he and San Pedro-born comedian Brian Zuinich have reserved Club Cohiba to open what they hope to develop into a monthly series called the Long Beach Port of Comedy.
The plan is to feature comics who are hand-picked by Conolly and Zuanich, along with other local talent. Conolly believes the market for comedy is so saturated in Los Angeles that Long Beach is a perfect location for some great comedians to do a full set, rather than “showcasing” for an industry crowd, or getting on a plane, or driving somewhere five hours away.
Connolly and Zuanich are on the bill for Saturday’s debut show, along with Sally Mullins, Jason London, and Pauline Yasuda. Club Cohiba opens at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7. Tickets are only $10—available through Brian Zuanich’s website.
If Saturday night’s show is successful, the Long Beach Port of Comedy will continue on the last Saturday of every month.
“You never really know what you’re getting into with comedy,” says Conolly.
Or more applicable to his situation, what you’re getting back into.
Conolly considered himself a former stand-up comic in 2008, when he arrived in Los Angeles. Although he lives in Silverlake now, it was Hollywood that originally attracted him. Conolly and his wife, Hannah Davis, had achieved some filmmaking success with Mothers & Daughters (called Lovers and other Problems in the U.S.), a 2004 independent film they co-wrote and co-directed to much acclaim on the international festival circuit. The 2008 followup, The Understudy, received good notices, too.
But then, the economy. And then, the writers’ strike. The combination caused the collapse of Conolly’s financing studios, and consequently, his next film projects.
“I had to go back to my roots a little bit,” says Conolly, referring to his return to stand-up comedy, “and I thought ‘Let’s try it here’.”
Conolly knew better than to take the stage cold in a new country. He hooked up with Jerry Corley, founder of the “Stand Up Comedy Clinic” in Burbank, and they fine-tuned his routine for an American audience. Soon, Conolly was gigging at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood. Six weeks later he was at the World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas. “Bizarrely,” he reflects, “I was representing California.”
The result was more work for Conolly in clubs all over the country; he’s now performed for audiences from the Sunset Strip to Chicago to New York City—along with those little towns in states like Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona.
Although Conolly is bringing it back to California this weekend, Long Beach is unexplored territory for him. He acknowledges he’s leaning on Zuanich, whose born-in-Pedro connection to Greater Long Beach gives them a little better sense of what to expect. The men became friends and colleagues after meeting at Corley’s clinic. Now they’re partners in the Long Beach Port of Comedy.
“We’ve always been saying ‘Let’s find a club out in the Long Beach area,’” says Conolly. “Brian is a local guy, and whenever he’s at The Comedy Store, loads and loads of people from the Long Beach area go and see him.”
That’s no small loyalty.
“There’s the drive to get there, the cost of tickets, the price of parking in West Hollywood, and then they’ve got their two-drink minimum,” Conolly notes. “It’s an expensive night out.”
The hassle endured by comedy fans in Long Beach suggested to Zuanich and Conolly that there might be market for the Long Beach Port of Comedy. But it took a year-long search until they found a suitable venue.
“Brian rang me up while I was doing a gig,” Conolly recalls. “He said, ‘I’m having a drink in this place called Cohiba in Long Beach. It’s perfect.’”
Locally, Cohiba is widely known as Pine Avenue nightclub that on most nights is noisy, raucous and overflowing with people, but Zuanich and Conolly see something else.
“It looks like a comedy room that’s not being used,” Conolly says. “My first thoughts were that we could make this really work; we could make it like the Comedy Store…”
The stage and multiple rooms and bars convinced Zuanich and Conolly that Cohiba is the right venue for their stand-up.
Besides, throughout Conolly’s U.S. tour, he’s been playing all sorts of venues that weren’t originally meant for comedy, but which somehow provide the perfect atmosphere for it. They include everything from converted nightclubs like Cohiba to pizza parlors.
“People walk into a room and think ‘What’s this? Oh, yeah, wow—it’s a comedy room,’” Conolly says. “The great thing about comedy—stand-up comedy—is it’s just one man turning up and talking into the microphone. All you need is one microphone and you turn the lights down.”
THE LONG BEACH PORT OF COMEDY CLUB COHIBA • 110 E BROADWAY • LONG BEACH 90802 • FEATURING DAVE CONOLLY, BRIAN ZUANICH, SALLY MULLINS, JASON LONDON, PAULINE YASUDA • CLUBCOHIBA.COM 562.491.5220 • SATURDAY (JAN 28) • TICKETS $10 BZCOMEDY.COM • 7PM
Read more: Brian Zuanich, Club Cohiba, Comedy Store, Dave Conolly, GreaterLongBeach.com, Jimmy Dolan, Long Beach Port of Comedy, San Pedro, West Hollywood