Comedy club to launch

When it opens on Saturday, the Joker’s Wild comedy club in Wooster Square will likely have the last laugh.

After all, it will be the only such venue in the city.

Passersby take notice of the Joker’s Wild comedy club, which will open Saturday.
Ray Xiong
Passersby take notice of the Joker’s Wild comedy club, which will open Saturday.

The club’s entertainment manager, John Calash, said Joker’s Wild will host high-energy comedy and jazz, and serve as a venue for corporate functions. The club will be open Tuesday to Saturday to people of all ages, and will charge about $10 to $15 per ticket. Calash hopes to have differently themed nights targeting a specific age group, including College Night on Thursdays. Joker’s Wild plans to open in late November on 232 Wooster St., across the street from Sally’s Apizza.

The original Joker’s Wild, which opened in 1985 on Crown Street, was closed down seven years later. But Calash’s idea to resurrect Joker’s Wild was readily accepted by his old business friend Dominic Acquerulo, who owns of the building that houses Joker’s Wild. Calash said Yale students were an integral part of the original club’s interior design, and he would like to see students contribute again.

“The entire interior paintings, as well as the joker itself, were all originally hand-drawn by Yale students,” he said. “Now we’ve got a new-generation joker, which will have laser eyes and a fire-breathing mouth. It’s going to be great.”

The general manager of Joker’s Wild, Annunziata Germana, said construction of the club, which began in August, will be finished in late November. She said they plan to have a soft opening in the first few weeks of November, and expect to announce a grand opening later in the month.

Many entertainers have been booked already. Eugene Dobbs, president of Nu-Cullers Entertainment, will be performing Nov. 9 with his jazz band, and the opening comic will be Paul Veneir, who was named College Comic of the Year four of the past 10 years. Billy Winn of New Haven’s WPLR radio station, hypnotist Joe Spinnato and jazz musicians Ronnie Lawrence and Nicki Carr are also scheduled to perform in the coming weeks.

“We’re pretty much sold out for the first week,” Calash said. “All the businesses around us have been really supportive.”

Germana mentioned that Joker’s Wild is excited to interact with the universities in the area.

“We’re thinking about purchasing a shuttle bus and sending it to each university once a week for College Night,” she said.

Calash said Joker’s Wild will be interested in hosting college students, and even in booking student improvisational comedy groups as well. Stanley Seiden ’10, member of one such group, the Purple Crayon, said he was looking forward to working with Joker’s Wild.

“I think this comedy club could become a great new venue for Yale student comedy groups to perform in,” Seiden said. “I’m really excited that New Haven is getting a comedy club because it’s a sign that it is becoming more comedy-friendly.”

But other Yalies, like Alexis Mitchell ’12, say they are unsure about the prospect of going to a comedy club.

“I feel that not many people our age go to comedy clubs anymore,” she said. “If we’re going to watch comedy, we just turn on the TV.”

In response, Calash said she hopes Joker’s Wild will be able to convert students who are used to watching comedy on television.

“Watching comedy live is different from watching it on TV,” he said. “You can’t feel the response and energy off the screen, but when it’s live, the audience is part of the show. The ambience is completely different.”

Calash mentioned that Joker’s Wild will try to appeal to college students by advertising College Night on Thursdays and Open Mic Night on Wednesdays. The club has already printed 17,000 teaser ads, flyers and posters that will be distributed to surrounding universities.

Comments

  • Last Comic Standing

    It's great that somebody's making another go of a New Haven comedy club, but Wooster Square is too far to realistically expect a lot of Yale foot traffic. Good luck to them!