Arundel nightspots turn spotlight on comics Comedy: But seriously, folks, live stand-up acts are making a comeback in restaurants and bars from Odenton to Pasadena.

December 04, 1997|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

A man walks into a bar

The owners of the Fireside Inn are hoping that many more than one person will be doing that when their first comedy show makes its debut Saturday night.

Dave Parry, who took over the Glen Burnie restaurant in May, came up with the idea a few months ago after a trip to New York with a few employees.

But he is not the first in the county to have caught on to the lucrative possibilities of comedy.

A half-dozen restaurants and bars from Odenton to Pasadena have signed up acts in the past year to make customers laugh -- and most are discovering that comedians pack them in.

"We thought it would be something different," Parry said. "Something fun. We thought it would break up the karaoke and bands."

Anne Arundel County used to be home to several clubs that specialized in comedy. Most failed, however, by the early 1990s.

The secret to the new wave, owners and managers say, is not to overdo it. "It's hard to have comedy full-time in Anne Arundel," said Jerry Osura, owner of Surfside 7 Restaurant and Dock Bar in Edgewater. He tried comedy four times this year. After each show brought in more than 200 people, he decided to make it a permanent feature.

Surfside 7 will hold a comedy night once a month, starting in January.

"I don't think Anne Arundel really knew what was out there," Osura said. "Everybody was just into music. But I would never do it full-time. It's a hard act to follow night after night."

Kelly Walter, co-owner of Anchor Inn in Pasadena, began offering comedy four months ago. The owners thought they might get 80 people to come or stay for the act. They were surprised when 150 people showed up.

"Comedy night has been our most successful night up until now," Walter said. "Everybody says this is so neat, there's no place to see comedy around here."

That's soon to change.

Several bars and restaurants are beginning to compete with each other, touting "bigger names" and "higher quality" acts.

Like most places, Anchor Inn is stopping live entertainment for the holiday season, but it will resume with weekly comedy nights in January. The comedians taking the stage in Anne Arundel are not locals. Most come from New York and New Jersey.

Larry Stevens, a booking agent and comedian who lined up the acts at the Fireside Inn, said he knows of another Pasadena bar seeking comic talent.

For many comedians, who have performed in high-profile New York clubs and on cable television, the Anne Arundel shows will mark their debuts in the county.

"Most guys I get won't know what Anne Arundel County is," said Stevens, "but they don't know where they're going half the time anyway. Anne Arundel is nothing compared to, say, Denton [in Caroline County]. Great club, but they don't even know what cable TV is down there."

Pub Date: 12/04/97

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