Raising the comedy bar
Stand up series returns with Trinidadian act
Christopher “Johnny” Daley (Photo: EllIS)

The past two years have taken a toll on every area of the entertainment sector globally; therefore, the recent announcement of an opening up of the sector by Prime Minister Andrew Holness has been greeted with joy and anticipation by the players in the industry.

The local stand-up comedy scene had been getting its legs and securing a firm footing in the local entertainment scene in the years preceding the novel coronavirus pandemic. This was due in no small part to the efforts of comedian, stage and screen actor, and media personality Christopher “Johnny” Daley.

His Comedy Bar series served as a conduit to introduce the Jamaican audience to this brand of entertainment, which gave local stand-up comedians the opportunity to sharpen their skills and perfect their craft. However, this too was dealt a blow by the pandemic.

This Thursday the Comedy Bar reopens its doors after two years with what an excited Daley is describing as a wonderful season opener.

“I am very excited at what we have to offer. With the easing of restrictions and the opening of the entertainment sector, we have partnered with Richie D Entertainment to reopen the Comedy Bar at a new location. Beat @ Serengeti is located at the Hope Zoo and they wanted a perfect filler for their Thursday nights and thought why not comedy. So when I looked at the Comedy Bar portfolio I realised that the location was perfect for what we do. We understood that the product was possibly outgrowing Johnny’s Place [it’s previous venue], and we saw this venue as being perfect for this type of entertainment. The space, the atmosphere, the parking, and security all came together for us,” Daley told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview.

While being a training ground and stage for local talent, Daley said he has always dreamt of the Comedy Bar also opening its doors to regional and international talent.

Kathy “Tan Deh Deh” Grant

This dream is now being realised. Daley and his team are working at bringing in one stand-up comedian from the wider Caribbean or the United States at least once per month — the last Thursday — starting this month.

“We have been watching the brand grow. I have been doing a lot of work outside Jamaica and wherever I go I share the story of Comedy Bar. So when I perform in the region or in North America I am hearing from other comedians, ‘When are you inviting me to the Comedy Bar?’ So its great that our Jamaican product is attracting attention from outside.”

“So, for this season opener, our special guest is Allan D’ Entertainer from Trinidad. We first met at a show in St Maarten and I was so impressed with his exceptional talent that I thought he would be perfect for the Comedy Bar. I just love his energy and a lot of people say he reminds them of me, in terms of his onstage presence. He’s Trini to the bone with a great global appeal and should be great come Thursday,” Daley continued.

Allan D’ Entertainer will share the stage with Kathy “Tan Deh Deh” Grant and Daley himself.

Allan D’ Entertainer

The comedian and promoter also noted that, while it is difficult to earn support, in terms of sponsorship for stand-up comedy here in Jamaica, compared to other areas of entertainment, such as music, the popularity of the art form is definitely growing and has an audience here on the island.

“Jamaicans are very exposed. A lot of our patrons tell me that when they go abroad on vacation they visit comedy clubs and therefore are happy to have this kinds of entertainment offering here at home. They are also watching the comedy specials on television and streaming services such as Netflix often compliment the standard of our acts, noting they are often on par with the international performers. A lot of our patrons have come back to say they remember when Shuler King was at the Comedy Bar, and now they see him on Nick Canon’s Wild N’ Out. So we are not out there doing a second-rate show, this is great stuff,” he noted.

Despite the two-year layoff, Daley said the comedians are in no way ring rusty and are ready to put on a show for their audience.

“It’s like riding a bicycle. Once we get on stage it all comes back. The truth is, some of us were able to work and keep ourselves sharp during the height of pandemic thanks to the virtual space and people like Dufton Shepherd and his ‘Unhinged’ series. We missed the stage so much that we just can’t wait to get out there and put on a show,” said Daley.

Kathy “Tan Deh Deh” Grant
Richard Johnson

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