Arts & Culture

Triangle stand-up comedians perform wherever, whenever they can

Durham comedienne Deb Aronin also gives local comics rooms to work. Along with doing open-mic spots whenever she can (she says she goes to four or five in a week), she hosts her own weekly open-mic at Tootie’s Bar in Durham as well as the Bulltown show at Fullsteam.
Durham comedienne Deb Aronin also gives local comics rooms to work. Along with doing open-mic spots whenever she can (she says she goes to four or five in a week), she hosts her own weekly open-mic at Tootie’s Bar in Durham as well as the Bulltown show at Fullsteam.

You can find stand-up comedy anywhere in the Triangle these days. You can even find it in somebody’s apartment.

On the last Sunday of every month, comedian Stephen Hamlett hosts “Steve’s Secret Sunday Show,” located in his apartment near RDU Airport. That’s where you’ll find Hamlett standing on a small, homemade stage, as his dog Dave darts all around, doing material and introducing other comics to entertain the few who can cram into Hamlett’s home space.

“I’m not really so well with going out and making relationships with business owners and whatnot,” says the Pinehurst-born Hamlett, who occasionally broadcasts the show live through Periscope. “But I still wanted to produce my own show. And I figured with the rent I’m paying here, I’ve got a venue space here. I can invite some people in and do a show here .... It kind of eliminates all the other things and still allows me complete creative control.”

Welcome to stand-up comedy in the Triangle, people, where comics will do whatever and go wherever just to do a few minutes of material.

There is an abundance of open-mic nights and stand-up showcases going on in the area weekly and monthly. Sure, local comedians can head over to Goodnights Comedy Club for its Tuesday night open-mic. But for the restless, regional crew of funny men and women who need to flesh out jokes immediately, there are many other places for them to work on stuff.

Of course, there are bars that host open-mic nights, like the twice-monthly “Under the Bridge” show at London Bridge Pub and the Saturday-night show at The Bull and the Bear. There are also craft breweries, like Fullsteam Brewery in Durham (home to the monthly Bulltown Comedy Series), Fortnight Brewing in Cary and the Carolina Brewing Co. in Holly Springs, which have been giving stand-ups some stage time.

Over at downtown venue Kings (one of many smaller venues in the Triangle that often bring in visiting, national stand-ups to do shows), on the third Friday of every month, the showcase known as The Dangling Loafer has been a reliable spot to find local comics doing their thing.

“We basically started it just to guarantee ourselves some stage time every month,” says Raleigh comic Adam Cohen, who’s been co-hosting/co-organizing the event (with fellow Raleigh comedian Shane Smith) for 4 1/2 years. Cohen was runner-up in 2015’s “North Carolina’s Funniest Person” contest and is the organizer for comedySPARK events at Raleigh’s annual SPARKcon festival.

“Because so many comics were coming into the scene, it was hard to get stage time,” Cohen says. “And it has really turned into this kind of institution.”

Durham comedienne Deb Aronin also gives local comics rooms to work. Along with doing open-mic spots whenever she can (she says she goes to four or five a week), she hosts her own weekly open-mic at Tootie’s Bar in Durham as well as the Bulltown show at Fullsteam. She also books touring road comics for shows at Motorco Music Hall, also in Durham, and she usually gives local comics the chance to open up for them. Even though Aronin has a lot of things on her comedy plate, she wants her fellow Bull City comics to know she has their backs.

“I think there’s that DIY spirit of ‘I can’t find a place to perform – I’ll make a place to perform,’” says Aronin, who runs the ComedyDurham.com website. “As far as Durham goes, I’m a big fan of the scene because I feel supported by a lot of comics who come to my shows and who perform.”

In nearby Chapel Hill, DSI Comedy hosts a monthly ladies’ night every first Friday, featuring female improvisers and comedians, and occasional open-mic nights, hosted by DSI’s Standup Corps. They also offer writing workshops for aspiring stand-ups.

Like most comics, Aronin wants to make some major moves in her career. “I have aspirations not to be doing exactly what I’m doing five years from now,” she says. “Probably hopefully getting paid to do it more and not having to work as a waitress.”

Several local comics already have made their presences known outside the Triangle.

Raleigh’s Andy Woodhull had his own half-hour special on Comedy Central and has done sets on Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon’s late-night shows. Cary’s Mello Mike Miller, who also hosts an open-mic at Mac’s Tavern in Cary, has gone on the road opening for heavy hitters like Tracy Morgan and Russell Peters. And, of course, several comedians have already moved to major cities like New York and Los Angeles.

So, before these stateside comics make the big leap to another part of the country, you can catch them doing stand-up all over the Triangle. Heck, one day, you may even see a Triangle comic on television and you can regale friends with the time you saw said comic do jokes in somebody’s living room!

See local comedy

Stand-up comedy happens in some expected and unexpected places in the Triangle. Here are a few places to keep tabs on.

Bull & the Bear: 5442 Six Forks Road, Raleigh. Info: facebook.com/TheBullandTheBear.

Carolina Brewing: 140 Thomas Mill Road, Holly Springs. Info: carolinabrew.com.

ComedyWorx: (Almost entirely improv.) 431 W. Peace St., Raleigh. Info: worxnc.com.

DSI Comedy: 462 W. Franklin St. Chapel Hill. Info: dsicomedytheater.com.

Fortnight Brewing: 1006 SW Maynard Road, Cary. Info: fortnightbrewing.com.

Fullsteam Brewery: 726 Rigsbee Ave., Durham. Info: fullsteam.ag.

Goodnights Comedy Club: 861 W. Morgan St., Raleigh. Info: goodnightscomedy.com.

Kings: 14 W. Martin St., Raleigh. Info: kingsbarcade.com.

London Bridge Pub: 110 E. Hargett St., Raleigh. Info: thelondonbridgepub.com.

Mac’s Tavern: 1014 Ryan Road, Cary. Info: macs-tavern.wix.com/macstavern

Motorco Music Hall: 723 Rigsbee Ave., Durham. Info: motorcomusic.com.

Steve’s apartment: Hook up with him on Facebook: facebook.com/Mr.TurkeyCCE.

Tootie’s Bar: 704 Rigsbee Ave., Durham. Info: nando.com/3v5.

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