A fire in a second-floor room sparked a change in venue for the Flamingo Hotel’s inaugural comedy night, but that’s OK with Simon King.
The local comedian doubled as emcee for the Pink’s comedy show on Thursday (April 19), in a night of laughs at the hotel’s recently rebranded Blackbird Hall.
The bar, formerly known as Pancho’s rock club, was pressed into service after a fire damaged the smaller Byrd venue in the hotel the previous Saturday, forcing tenants out and postponing some concerts.
On April 19, the adjacent Blackbird Hall bustled with more than 100 people for a show headlined by recent JUNO Award winner Ivan Decker. Comedy sets were also performed by Kathleen McGee and Sam Tonning.
“We’re filling it up, so it’s kind of a blessing in disguise, in a way,” King told the Now-Leader prior to the show’s 9 p.m. start. “It’s obviously very unfortunate that the venue has been damaged but I hear it’s going to be back up and running soon, so that’s great, but it was nice that it got moved here to the bigger space.
The smaller space is a bit more comedy-club style, King continued.
“It’s kind of all black walls and low ceilings and stuff, and this is a bit bigger, (a place) where we thought maybe bringing in bigger acts, but for a grand-opening show it works really well, and actually looking at it now, I think this is where I kind of want to keep it. It feels really good in here. It’s always tricky to know how many people are going to be in a room, because a certain number of people are required to make comedy work really well, and we definitely got that tonight, so that’s fantastic.”
In a Facebook event post in March, the venue is billed as “Surrey’s only professional stand-up comedy club.” Tickets for the opening-night comedy show were priced at $15 each, or $20 at the door.
Next up, King will headline the second Pink’s comedy event at the venue on Thursday, May 10. The night’s host will be Chris Griffin, the 2016 winner of the Vancouver Yuk Off comedy competition, a finalist in the San Francisco International Comedy Competition and a veteran of festivals across Canada. Tickets and show details are available at showpass.com/pinks-comedy-club.
The Flamingo’s Byrd (formerly a strip bar), Blackbird Hall and lounge venues have hosted a variety of bands since the property reopened in January under new management.
“We’d like to eventually get to be a full-time comedy club in Surrey,” King elaborated. “I think it’s time that people on this side of the water get full-time standup comedy entertainment, and that’s what we’re hoping to do. We’re going to start out (doing) shows every couple of weeks, and then slowly surely build it up, then every week, and then hopefully a couple times a week.”
King said the Blackbird Hall venue is “the kind of venue I love to play, because of the kind of comic I am — I’m a bit of a punk rock guy, so it really appealed to me because of that initially, and then the venue was incredibly supportive. I mean, they really want comedy here, they’ve done everything they can to accommodate us, and I couldn’t be more happy with that relationship. So as far as I’m concerned, the space is fantastic, they’ve got all the technical requirements we need, and they really want it to work. That’s 90 per cent on it, and now it’s just a matter of bringing in great acts, which we’ve done.”
In the hotel’s lounge bar, a Dirty Byrdie amateur comedy night riffs on a “Get Laughs or Cry Tryin’” theme this Friday (April 27, 8 p.m.), in a show hosted by Johnny Papan. Tickets are $5 at the door. According to a post on the website dirtybyrdie.tk, performers will include Papan, the previously mentioned Tonning, Ryan Williams, Justin Spurr, Mickey Ignatic and several other comics.
The hotel’s Byrd venue remains closed, due to water damage from the fire. Until renovations are done, all shows scheduled there have been moved to the other two venues on the property, at the corner of King George Boulevard and 108th Avenue.
Last Thursday at the Blackbird Hall, Katrina Bennett was among those in the audience. The local comedian, who performed during the annual “I Am Woman, Hear Me Laff” comedy night at Surrey Arts Centre in 2017, is a cancer survivor who isn’t afraid to tell jokes about her personal ordeal.
On May 6 at Yuk Yuk’s club in Vancouver, Bennett will open for Richard Lett in his new show, “One Nut Only,” which focuses on his journey through testicular cancer.
“Richard’s show is a solo show – something you might expect from a Fringe festival more so than a comedy club,” Bennett explained.
“I met Richard one of the first times I was doing standup (when) my set was mainly about my cancer. We chatted after the show and shared some war stories. He is a testicular cancer survivor – 10 years cancer-free and also clean and sober for over five.
“Richard and I became friends and he asked if I would like to open for him when he debuted (“One Nut Only”) at Yuks Yuk’s. I’ll talk a little about my experience — cancer/divorce/kids/dating, just to get them warmed up for the main event. I’m a dancing monkey, if you will.”