Poco’s restaurant comedy cabaret in Doylestown reopens Friday
After 587 days, the laughter returns. The giggles. The giggles. Screams. The bursts of laughter. The sneers. The heartbreaking jokes that make you cry. Laughter: The best medicine.
The funny guys come back on Friday. The place: Comedy Cabaret Comedy Club, second floor, at Poco Mexican-American Restaurant and Bar, Main Street, Doylestown.
“Our last show here was on March 14, 2020, but it feels longer psychologically,” said Andy Scarpati, club owner and Bucks County native. “Honestly, it looks more like a millennium, to my mind. The pandemic has arrived and we have closed. Between you and me and most people, we probably didn’t all think it would last that long.
“We are delighted to be back. After everything we’ve been through with the pandemic, it’s time to laugh and feel good again. ”
Funny returns Friday at 9 p.m. The programming is good. Missy Grynkiewicz-Hall believes pants are optional and the world would be a better place if run by dogs. Her husband, comedian Jeremy Hall, thinks the only thing more disappointing than seeing decaffeinated coffee is knowing that they paid dearly for it. Philly guy Glenn Freezman is the king of one-liners. Steve Young is an intelligent 70-year-old man whose credits include writing for “The Late Show with David Letterman”, “The Simpsons” and “Boy Meets World”. Young returns for Saturday performances at 8:30 p.m., with Donna Ottena, Gene Norris and Bill Chaing.
“We will have people at the show who have been here before, knowing how good the shows are,” said Scarpati, who has booked shows until New Years Eve. “But we will also bring people here for the first time, and they’re surprised how funny the comedians are, acts they’ve never seen before. It’s because I’m very picky about who I put up there. If I go to Netflix and see someone just saying (expletive, fat) all the time, it’s just lazy comedy. I pick people who are really funny without that stuff.
“Our installation is also one of the main reasons for our success. It’s very professional, with the staging, the lighting, the sound system, the seating. Everything is done to maximize the customer experience. We want them to have a lot of fun. We’re here to make them laugh.
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Nothing funny about COVID. But we could all use a good laugh to help us forget our worries about the virus and, also, the political division that has fractured the country like never before since the civil war. Laughter isn’t just about being funny. It floods the body with endorphins, the body’s natural wellness chemicals; helps relieve tension and stress, and increased blood flow, which studies have shown may protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.
“Laughter strengthens the immune system, which in this time of a pandemic is something we could all use,” said Scarpati.
Laughter’s immune system benefits aside, the Comedy Cabaret will use social distancing protocols by reducing the club’s capacity to around 130 from 180 and spacing the tables to, as Scarpati noted, “give people a little more leeway “.
“We know people may be hesitant to go out because of the pandemic, so we are doing our best to make them feel more comfortable,” he said. “When things get back to normal, we’ll let more people in.”
Scarpati grew up in Langhorne and Levittown and graduated from Neshaminy High. He’s been making people laugh ever since he left his teaching position in the Pennsbury School District in the late 1970s. As a stand-up comic, he has worked with Jay Leno, Kevin James and Ray Romano , among many others. He appeared in over a dozen commercials and in the 1990s he played a cop in “America’s Most Wanted”. He created Comedy Cabaret and had up to 10 clubs at a time.
“In the late 80s and early 90s we had a lot of clubs in the area,” Scarpati said. “Doylestown, Willow Grove, Fort Washington, King of Prussia, all highway exits. It was unbelievable. Then it eased in some places. Not Doylestown.
Laughter has filled the second floor of Poco’s restaurant since April 1987, when Scarpati first rented Poco’s Great Room. This arrangement and the use by the Comedy Cabaret of the restaurant beverage service for the shows is the extent of the business relationship that went hand in hand.
Laughter returns to the Comedy Cabaret on Friday night, 14109 hours since the last giggle, chuckle and chuckle. And my boy, do we need it.
“I’ve been doing this comedy for a long time,” Scarpati said. “Tell me, what could be better than making people laugh? ”
Columnist Phil Gianficaro can be reached at 215-345-3078, [email protected] and @philgianficaro on Twitter.