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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 TheWorldSeriesofComedy.com 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

 

Ringling International Arts Festival 2017

by Roger Pettingell

International Arts Festival is next month

Four days of festivities by international performers through October 21

Courtyard at the Ringling
RIAF 2017 - The courtyard at the Ringling will spring to life with the Last Night gala of music and dancing.

One of the most prestigious festivals of the year in Sarasota is taking place next month, The Ringling International Arts Festival. Over the four days beginning October 18, eight different performances will take place to showcase Expect the Unexplored, Explore the Unexpected, the adventurous art theme for the year to be held at various locations on the campus of the Ringling. A few of the acts will take place over multiple days so it is conceivable that you can see them all, even twice if so desired.

It is an international festival with performances by artists from Belgium to Zimbabwe alphabetically. And it all kicks off in the West Courtyard. The First Night: Wanted celebration on Wednesday will be a spectacle of guest artists performing for 60 minutes in a combination of computer graphics and aerial acrobatics. The story of Wanted by eVenti Verticali of Italy is a representation of two men on the run. The networking festivities with hors d'oeuvres and beverages begin at 6:30 PM, while the performance starts at 8 PM. Wanted will return in the West Courtyard Thursday and Friday nights at 8 PM.

There are three, two-night performances and five other, three-night performances during the festival. It all begins October 19 at 2 PM with an a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe. The acclaimed quintet Nobuntu offers songs from their native African country in the Historic Asolo Theatre. You can listen to these pure voices at 8 PM on Friday and they will be back at 2 PM on Saturday. Also on Thursday at 2 PM the show White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a combination effort by the Ringling and The Urbanite Theatre in Sarasota. Each actor is delivered a script at the beginning of each play written by Nassim Soleimanpour, to be performed without rehearsal and in real time. A second showing on Thursday in the Circus Museum Backyard is at 8 PM, followed by 2 PM performances on Friday and Saturday. White Rabbit Red Rabbit will continue its run after the festival at the Urbanite Theatre, October 25 through November 5.

There are three performances at 5 PM on Thursday, October 19. The winner of the Total Theatre Award for Innovation at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Volker Gerling will present a flipbook of portraits from his journey across Germany in the Historic Asolo Theatre. He returns on Friday with his Portraits in Motion performance at 2 PM. At the same time on Thursday in the Circus Museum Backyard, the group Monica Bill Barnes & Company will perform Happy Hour, the story of two guys who crash an after-hours party. The group returns Friday for two shows at 5 PM and 8 PM, and finish with their fourth show at 5 PM on Saturday.

The Space Around You: Musical Reflections is presented at 5 PM on October 19 and 20, a concert in the Turrell Skyspace Ringling venue associated with the ensemblenewSRQ: Program One performances. Based in Sarasota, this group explores current generation music and transforms the music into contemporary classical masterpieces. The second ensemblenewSRQ: Program Two is scheduled for three concerts in two days inside the Huntington Gallery. The Magical World of Berio’s Sequenzas will be performed at 2 PM on Friday and Saturday with a third performance at 5 PM on Saturday.

Ready for some choreographed dance that is molded into a love story? Belgium operatic choreographer James McGinn brings Ing an Die to the Historic Asolo Theatre stage for three performances beginning October 19 at 8 PM. This love story set before the apocalypse is woven with symbolisms to express the emotions associated with a time of distress. There are two more performances of Ing an Die at 5 PM each day on Friday and Saturday.

The ninth annual RIAF comes to a close Saturday night beginning at 7 PM where it started in the Museum of Art Courtyard. Music will entice dancers in the audience for the Last Night festivities. The fun continues until 10 PM when the festival closes and preparations begin for the 2018 Ringling International Arts Festival. To purchase tickets for any of the shows during the festival visit their website at www.ringling.org.

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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.