Comedy in Cleveland

by | Feb 26, 2016 | Arts & Culture, Events & Festivals

That's Ramon on the far right

That’s Ramon on the far right.

On Wednesday February 24th, I attended Accelerate 2016 at the Global Center for Health Innovation (or The Globe, as we call it). This Shark Tank-like pitch contest attracted hundreds of guests, and the 25 finalists were grouped into 5 categories: Community Change, Economic Development, Educating for Tomorrow, Quality of Life and Transformative Arts & Culture. I sat in to watch the five finalists pitch their ideas for Transformative Arts & Culture projects and was really struck by all the work comedian Ramon Rivas, II was doing to elevate the art of comedy to a higher level. Comedy is a craft and it’s hard work to rise to the top of the heap. Comedians who came from Cleveland include: Drew Carey, Tim Conway, Arsenio Hall and Bob Hope. We love to laugh at ourselves and everything else! Ramon made it to the final pitch stage and shared his ideas in front of a large audience. He walked away with $2,000 that he is going to use to provide stipends to the comedians who come to Cleveland for the late August 2016 Accidental Comedy Fest (5th annual) that he created. I believe that great comedy is as important as great literature, great art, great music and great dance…so I asked Ramon to be our guest blogger on this topic (his words below):

“Well, all it takes to make a comedy hot spot is people coming together and artists trying to engage their craft in a space. Back when I started, there was 1 comedy open mic a week that struggled to get 5 diff comics every week. Now, there are mics 4/5 nights a week, the most popular of which puts up 30-50 performers in a week!

The ingredients are here in Cleveland. Hilarities is one of the finest venues for comedy in the country. The Improv was one of the first to open outside of LA. There are about 2-3 new comedy clubs of varying degrees that have opened or taken spaces over from indie shows in the past year, plus if you’re willing to add a few hours drive from CLE you can literally be at dozens of other comedy clubs and can dip into the tiny scenes in Columbus, Cinci + more.

From 2010-2014 I produced shows alone all over town. In 2014 I formed Accidental Comedy Club, a Accidental Comdy Clubcollective dedicated to enriching the arts in Cleveland through live comedy and other performances. The group (Jimmie Graham, Brian Kenny, Mary Santora and John Bruton) want to do more than just be professional comics; we want to make our city proud.

The shows may have helped pave the way for a spike in attention to comedy locally. It has definitely led to a number of audience members becoming performers, fans or supporters over the years. It builds and enriches communities, brings people from all parts of Cleveland together to spend some happy moments together. Accidental doesn’t have a set home base, but has a dedicated community of people who support the efforts of the group and each of them has helped build the scene up to where it is. Without the audience support, comics would just be screaming their sadnesses to empty seats.

Accidental is not solely responsible for the growth of comedy, no one thing is. The clubs, the mics, the indie shows, the artists, the audience are all pieces of a bigger puzzle that’s coming together to make Cleveland a very special place to perform for local and touring artists alike.

I started Accidental Comedy Club with the vague hope that one day it would be to Cleveland what Second City is to Chicago: a beacon of comedy ingrained into the city experience. Because as much as I love Cleveland, putting these shows on and bringing people in this city together, my comedy is affording me opportunities to travel more and more so Accidental exists to ensure there are comedic ambassadors as passionate about comedy and Cleveland as I am for years to come. Creating shows that give artists opportunities to work their craft and improve. Because comedy is an art form that you NEED people to do. Music, painting, writing can be done in solitude, but comedy needs community. Come build it with us! Get out. Laugh. Make fun!”

There are two other comedy festivals in Cleveland (hey with sports teams like ours you have to learn to laugh, a lot): Cleveland Comedy Festival held at Playhouse Square (this November) and the Crooked River Comedy Festival at Mahall’s in Lakewood in September.
The Plain Dealer even devotes a column in the Friday Magazine to comedy every week. Mike McIntrye, a man of many talents who is not only a journalist who also covers comdey for the paper, but also hosts The Sound of Ideas on WCPN, Cleveland’s NPR station covering many hard & soft news topics
For more information on how Executive Arrangements can connect your recruit or new hire to the hobbies or interests they love (like comedy) either during the recruitment process or after they have relocated to NE Ohio, just call us: 216.231.9311.