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Comedy clubs and hilarious stage plays

by Roger Pettingell

Laughter, good medicine at any time

The best locations to find comedy performances in Sarasota

Florida Studio Theatre
Improv comedy - The Florida Studio Theatre improv troupe performs Friday and Saturday nights.

“Laughter is good medicine,” are upcoming seminars at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in April. And indeed, humor can turn a stressful day into a day that has a feel-good ending. How about any day of the week? There are a few places in Sarasota to get a regular fill of laughter and chase those blues away. Some of these venues you may be quite familiar with and others only passively recognized for its comedy.

The first venue that comes to mind is McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, which last year celebrated its 30 year anniversary in Sarasota. Pam and Les McCurdy have been operating the theatre since 1988 from local venues in Bradenton and Sarasota. After 2014 the club moved from a small strip mall in the Trail Plaza, across from the Walmart Marketplace on North Tamiami Trail.

Today it continues as one of the most prestigious comedy clubs on the Gulf coast at their current location, 1923 Ringling Blvd in downtown Sarasota. There you can find well known comedians nightly such as Pauly Shore, Jamie Kennedy who has appeared in over 40 films, Josh Blue and his comedic look at his cerebral palsy that has been highlighted on network TV, late night talk-show guest Chris Cope, Helen Keaney with numerous TV credits, or Al Romas who has appeared on MTV and Comedy Central. Dale Jones, with several comedy shows on his resume, is up next from Wednesday to Sunday.

As their tagline also indicates it is a Humor Institute, a boot camp to build confidence on stage for those willing to share their jokes or humorous anecdotes. Les and Ken Sons guide the tutelage for structuring an on-stage performance. Sounds serious, but laughter is soon to break out in these sessions. These eight-day classes result in a 95% success claim, they say the other 5% just don’t listen. The next on-stage performance from the Humor Institute is on May 1. Visit the Green Room before and after where everyone is a comedian.

Alumni and other self-proclaimed comedians compete on stage in Open Mic Nights on Wednesdays starting April 24 and on some Tuesdays starting May 7. The competition concludes in an Open Mic session on June 18 with the winner receiving five minutes on the main stage and a cash prize. The annual World Series of Comedy, July 17-20, will present 40 North American comedians who travel the United States to compete in cities as the best comedian in the country. You can register as a comedian on website.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Big and Purple - Yes, there are comedy acts at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota

Mostly known for attracting high-profile concerts, musicals and stage performances, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall brings in some of the most highly visible comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno to its stage. Next Tuesday The Second City troupe is in the city with their show, “It’s Not you, It’s Me” which brings laughter to the study of human relationships. The hilarious musical, “Menopause” follows on Wednesday. Multiple award-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg performs stand-up on April 27. And if you haven’t seen, “The Book of Mormon” get your tickets now as they go quickly for the four shows January 7-10, 2020.

The Florida Studio Theatre has its improv team perform every Saturday at 8:30 PM. The current run is “Comedy Freestyle” where all the rules of improv are removed. Just about anything Sarasota, “Life’s a Beach” is an improv performance each Friday at 7:30 PM. The “Tournament of Fools” this Saturday lets the audience decide who goes on to be the “Champion of the Fools”. For longer running plays, “Buyer and Cellar,” takes a comedic route in the play about a struggling actor who finds out life in the big city when he moves to Los Angeles. The show is currently running through Sunday in the FST Bowne’s Lab Theatre at 1241 North Palm Avenue.

“In a Word” at the Urbanite Theatre is extended to April 21 and combines grief with comedy for a look back at one fateful night. The theater on Second Avenue presents many dramatic plays but slips in a good hilarious performance such as the satirical “The Thanksgiving Play” with a long run starting November 8.

Now back to Sarasota Memorial Hospital where lectures on Parkinson’s support, baby health and trauma treatments are scheduled daily, they include a lesson improving your health through laughter at HealthConnection on the first floor of the hospital this Friday and again on April 26. Improv actors from FST will lead the hour-long training of laughter exercises.

References to other entertainment venues in Sarasota

Keep up the laughter for a healthy lifestyle, these venues and more have their performances listed on our upcoming events page. Get your Vitamin D in Sarasota with outside activities while visiting. And when you are ready to commit permanently or during the winter months check out my new listing last week in the Beaches community at 775 Longboat Club Rd, #706. This beautifully updated seventh-floor 2BR/2BA residence has direct Gulf of Mexico views on the beach of Longboat Key. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
775 Longboat Club Rd, #706 $795,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


The visible signs of Sarasota growth

by Roger Pettingell

New hotels, high-rises and businesses

Snowbird survivor's guide to summer construction changes

Vue Sarasota and Embassy Suites
Vue Sarasota on the right nears completion while the 18-story Embassy Suites hotel at left goes skyward.

The car carrier company is transporting your automobile to Longboat Key and you are landing at SRQ the week after Thanksgiving to spend a few months under the warm Florida sunshine. You may have done this for years. Every year you might see a new building from the window of your cab on the route to your winter home. This year may be different for you as there are many new buildings. The most notable change hits you as you approach Gulfstream Avenue in downtown Sarasota. That’s where the fun really begins.

The 800-pound gorilla in the intersection is the new Westin Hotel and Vue Sarasota residences. It might have been at the ground level when you left. Now it is fully formed, seemingly ready for guests and residents. Depending on when you arrive, the Westin may already be accepting guests for booking in any of their 255 rooms. Construction continues on the 144 residences and is expecting to be completed in early 2017. Included in the construction is a 14,000 square-foot ballroom and two junior ballrooms of nearly 6,000 square feet each.

Across the street on Tamiami Trail is the shell of the new Embassy Suites and Spa with 180-200 guest rooms under construction. There had been a small cabinet retailer on the corner when you left that was razed for this 18-story edifice that is expected to be completed in mid-2017. In all, the Embassy Suites and Westin will offer two-thirds of the new hotel rooms with ongoing construction in downtown Sarasota. The Aloft Hotel on One Palm Avenue has already opened with its 138 rooms.

You turn right to head over the Ringling Causeway to Coon Key and the bridge to St. Armands Circle. At the end of the bridge you notice evidence that the bridge had been repaired over the summer. Repairs limited traffic to one lane and added an average of 20 minutes to the morning commute. You accept that you were lucky to avoid that daily transit.

Looking to your left you see a construction site at the Plymouth Harbor of Sarasota Bay. The assisted living facility is adding 70 new residences in its Northwest Garden Building that will be devoted to memory care units, assisted living and independent living. The 150,000 square foot building in three stories is expected to be completed early next year.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital Urgent Care facility
The new urgent care facility in St. Armands Circle is part of the Sarasota Memorial Hospital system.

In the short span of your drive past the Ringling Bridge to St. Armands Circle has one more view of new construction. Where the old St. Armands Medical Center had been, a new urgent care building may be open for patients. As part of the Sarasota Memorial Hospital system of urgent care facilities the new center will have lab and X-ray capabilities to help treat patients. This will become the sixth urgent care facility in the hospital system that are located in Manatee and Sarasota counties. There are two floors for patients with injuries that are non-life threatening and will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily when it opens in October.

Depending on your location on Longboat Key you may pass the new 16-unit Aria at Villa am Meer community and Infinity with its 11 luxury waterfront residences. You will notice that the Colony Beach and Tennis resort is in different phases of razing for a new community with 180 residences and equal number of hotel rooms. What you won’t see is construction for a Floridays hotel on the north end of the island. You may have even sent in an absentee ballot for an August 30th referendum that would have allowed the proposed hotel. Voters decidedly rejected the proposal. The new Zota hotel at 4711 Gulf of Mexico Drive is expected to open December 1. The former Hilton Beachfront Resort was renovated and a new 84-room tower will be available for nightly stays.

SRQ Air Traffic Control Tower
SRQ Air Traffic Control Tower - Look for the new tower northwest of the runways when landing.

You arrive at your place, now it’s time to unpack and head to the beach. You will see that Tropical Storm Hermine didn’t erode much of the beaches. Instead, you will find a more extended beach due to renourishment projects in New Pass, Longboat Pass through dredging projects and beaches in between through daily truck hauls where hundreds of thousands of cubic sand renewed the beaches on Longboat Key.

Reflecting back to your landing at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport you may have noticed the construction of the air traffic control tower in the northwest corner of the runway system. Another sign of the growth that Sarasota is experiencing. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Harbor Acres - Sarasota community spotlight

by Roger Pettingell

Sarasota's eclectic gem overlooking the bay

Inspired city leaders of the 1930s helped form Harbor Acres

Aerial view of Harbor Acres in Sarasota
Harbor Acres from the air - Waterfront dockage exists on many homes of Harbor Acres. Click on the image above to see the video in REALTALK™ #56.

Developed from dredging of Sarasota Bay, Harbor Acres was formed with two peninsulas that extend into the bay, creating a boater’s paradise with deep water access to the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. This prestigious community overlooks Bird Key, which ironically was also created from dredging projects by some of the great city planners of the day. To the north, the structure of the Ringling Bridge can been seen through a panoramic view with all of its magnificence. All three of these projects were centered around the 1920s real estate depression in Florida that preceded the Great Depression, after the 1929 stock market crash and world financial crisis.

While the infamous John Ringling and Owen Burns were developing the land between mainland Sarasota and Longboat Key, Sarasota mayor Earnest A. Smith had his goal for enriching the city through opportunities created by the depression. Soon after the stock market plummeted, nature created another disaster in hurricane form that devastated Sarasota. The combination of the two initiated a trip to Washington by Smith in an effort to solicit funds under the New Deal and its “Alphabet Soup” programs created in the first hundred days of President Roosevelt's administration. At the time land was cheaply available as owners were unable to pay back loans, drastically dropping their value. Washington was convinced that Sarasota required Federal help to rebuild, and Smith returned to Sarasota with WPA funds to update public utilities and purchase the inexpensive land. He was also given funds to buy land and build a civic center, now the site of the Municipal Auditorium on Tamiami Trail at the Boulevard of the Arts intersection.

1378 Harbor Drive, Sarasota, FL
Many homes in Harbor Acres are new construction such as this new listing on Harbor Drive.

Smith had aspirations for the southern sections of Sarasota and wanted to expand to the area “West of the Trail.” Sarasota Memorial Hospital had been built in 1925 and the area toward the bay was ideal for the doctors of the hospital to build their homes. He served the citizens of Sarasota as mayor from 1931-1937 with an accomplished resume of projects that would inspire the next generation of city leaders. The city would soon change its charter in the 1940s to form a Commission-Manager form of government that holds true to today. A mayor is not directly elected by the people but a panel of five commissioners. At the time cities were evolving to avoid the corruption that was created under other administrations such as Tammany Hall of New York City.

The impetus for Harbor Acres was picked up again after World War II. Some of the first homes that were built in the late 1940s are still in existence today and because it is close to the hospital it was once referred to as Doctors Acres. Doctors still reside here, either as attending physicians or as retirees. The composition of different styles bring together old and new Florida for a quaint community that is preferred for its limited restrictions on deeds. Harbor Acres is also attractive to home buyers as it is close to the rich cultural life of Sarasota, fabulous dining, recreation and boutique shopping experiences.

REALTALK #56 - Harbor Acres
REALTALK™ #56 - Harbor Acres is spotlighted.

In REALTALK™ #56 last week I talked about the evolution of Harbor Acres and its transition to new construction with waterfront and luxury garden homes. Many of the homes here are now built to newer building codes and have many modern conveniences. Waterfront homes in Harbor Acres typically have boat docks and pools with square footage starting at 3,500. There was a sale recently of an updated home of 1,775 square feet, an original 1954 home on Orange Avenue that is the eastern-most boundary road of Harbor Acres. Because these homes are in high demand it was on the market six days. Even homes on the lower end of the scale in this community go quickly. I do not expect that the home I have listed at 1378 Harbor Drive on the water will stay on the market long either. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you would like a tour or have a property to sell or buy in Sarasota or Longboat Key. Click here for active listings in Harbor Acres.

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3




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Roger Pettingell?


  • Over 33 years as a top producing REALTOR® on Longboat Key and in Sarasota.


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About Roger Pettingell

Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.