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New comedy club hopes to avoid the same old

New comedy club hopes to avoid the same old

AM New York 9/27/2006

By David Freedlander

Revelers in the Meatpacking District can dine in the finest restaurants and party in pumping clubs. But if they want to hear some jokes, they have to tell their own. Until now.

Comix, a deluxe one-stop laugh shop, officially opens Thursday night with a double bill featuring David Spade, Sarah Silverman and Kathy Griffin. The 14,000-square-foot space offers a gourmet dining menu, two fully stocked bars, a 320-seat theater and a rotating cast of improv comedy troupes, up-and-comers and some of comedy’s biggest names.

“This is going to be the kind of high-end comedy club that no one has ever seen before in New York,” says Harlan Harper, the club’s owner. A former amateur stand-up comic himself, Harper tired of the cramped clubs that offered watered-down drink minimums, bad food and worse treatment of the performers.

“I thought there has to be a better way to do this,” he says. “A better way to treat the patrons who come in here and a better way to treat the talent who knock themselves out to perform.”

Comix will have no drink minimums, an American Bistro-style menu designed by Great Performances catering company and plush amphitheater style seating.

Harlan is trusting that New York’s comedy fans will be willing to pay a little extra to get a deluxe night of comedy. Tickets for some of the bigger acts cost anywhere from $30-90, with Mo¹Nique, Cedric the Entertainer and Jim Belushi all stopping by in the early going.

“We are going to do it right,” says Collins, a native New Yorker who regularly headlines in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. “If you start out top shelf, you are always going to be top shelf. People figure they may pay a little more, but if you do it right, they are going to come back.”

The club won’t be merely strictly for the famous. Once a month they will host a ‘Fresh Meat Night’ for acts that haven’t yet been on the bigger stages.

“That’s going to be the newer comics performing their best bits, and the best comics performing their newer bits,” says Rocky Dubin, the club’s booker. “It’s imperative that we are constantly on the pulse of what¹s new and cutting edge.”

Tickets for ‘Fresh Meat’ shows typically run $12.

Collins envisions Comix being the kind of place where younger comics can hang out at the lounge after the show, getting advice from established stars and mingling with audience members.

“We need a place like this,” Collins said. “Everyone’s getting so serious, they are forgetting how to live. It’s time to let the clowns out.”