Dennis Litonjua remembers the place well.
It started as Sir Laugh-A-Lot’s, he recalls, and then it turned into the Comedy Cave. As a kid who was passionate about stand-up, Litonjua couldn’t wait until he was old enough to walk through the doors.
“I was itching to go because I did comedy in drama class in Grade 11 and 12,” says the North Surrey Secondary grad. “And by the time I was of age, it shut down.”
A couple of “one-offs” tried to revive the local comedy scene, says Litonjua, but most have sputtered and so far, there’s been nothing to replace the old venue.
However, he and fellow comedian Art Factora are looking to bring the laughs back to Surrey – permanently.
Since 2008, they’ve staged a couple of shows per year, and in January, organized four consecutive comedy nights at Olympia Pizza in North Surrey which proved promising. Thanks to word of mouth, by the time the series was halfway through, the last two shows sold out.
And now the pair is at it again. Another four-week comedy series is scheduled to begin June 14 at Olympia.
First up is Kyle Bottom, a “nerd in a slacker’s body,” who brings his personal stories and hilarious commentary to stage. Fresh from performances at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal and Hubcap Festival in Moncton, Bottom continues to build a name for himself across Canada while also teaching stand-up to budding comedians in Vancouver.
On June 21, Ivan Decker, who had his start in an East Vancouver bar, is the featured act. With his own comedy special on CTV, various radio and festival gigs under his belt, he was voted the top comedian in Vancouver in 2011.
Carter Hortie, a North Vancouver native, will be at the mic on June 28, treating audiences to his quick wit and 10 years of touring experience. Wrapping the series on July 5 is Simon King and his energetic and edgy performance, delivering a hilarious mix of socially conscious material and keen perspective.
Each show, hosted by Litonjua and co-producer Factora, will also feature five or six other comics – from newbies to advanced amateurs – to further beef up the funny factor each evening. Shows will run at least an hour and a half.
“It’s stacked pretty much from top to bottom,” says Litonjua.
He and Factora hope to have a similar series in the fall, but ideally, would like to see a full-time comedy venue in Surrey.
“That would be a great goal to shoot for,” Litonjua says.
If the upcoming show goes extremely well, he’s hopeful business owners will see the demand and recognize that comedy is a viable option to entertain their customers.
Even more optimal would be a standalone facility dedicated to stand-up comedy.
“If some millionaire Surrey-ite says ‘I love comedy, I’m going to open up my basement and have a hundred people sit in my basement’, that’d be awesome,” he laughs.
The June/July shows take place at the Olympia located at 10257 King George Blvd. Tickets are $10 at the door.