The Funny Farm comedy club had a long run at the former Holiday Inn Metroplex Hotel in Liberty. Something like 19 years. Seemed like it would be there forever.
But after the hotel changed hands five years ago, the Funny Farm lost its lease and spent the ensuing years bouncing between various rooms around the Valley, including the Quality Inn in Liberty, Los Gallos in Boardman, the Holiday Inn in Boardman and The Cellar in Struthers. I might have forgotten one or two.
But the Funny Farm’s nomadic era is about to come to an end.
The club has found a permanent home in the lower level of Mojo’s Pub and Grille in Austintown. It will begin booking national acts there every weekend, beginning next week.
Dave Robich, who has owned the Funny Farm since Day One, said Mojo’s is a perfect fit.
He and Mojo’s owner John Marino are revamping the room into an intimate but comfortable space that will seat 80 to 100. Further changes for the near future will boost capacity by about 20 more, making it equal to past Funny Farm sites.
Robich likes the intimacy, because that’s how comedy is best experienced.
A permanent stage with a backdrop, and professional lighting and sound systems are being installed. Small tables will be set up close to the stage, with high-tops in the rear of the room.
A special menu of appetizers and finger food is being developed. Waitresses will provide table service for food and drinks during shows.
A huge advantage of the Mojo’s site is that the club is located in a building that also has a restaurant and lounge — but is completely separate from them. Comedy fans won’t find themselves in a room with patrons who aren’t there for the show.
So not only will there be a private atmosphere exclusively for comedy, but also a place to go for dinner before the show and for drinks and entertainment after the show. It’s called synergy, and dinner-and-show deals are in the works.
As for Robich (you can tell he’s in the comedy business because he always looks happy), he’s just pleased that his wandering days are over.
His regulars have stayed loyal, following the comedy club to the various rooms where shows took place these past five years. But the move to Mojo’s will create stability. Customers won’t have to worry where the show is on any given night.
Comedy acts will be booked at the Mojo’s room every Friday and Saturday. First up will be Dan Grueter, an Ohio native who also happens to be a Youngstown favorite. Because he’s known for his populist style and for not reveling in blue humor, Robich sees him as ideal for breaking in the new room. Grueter will do a 9:30 p.m. show Sept. 28, and 8 and 10 p.m. shows Sept. 29. Call 330-759-4242 for reservations, or go to funnyfarmcomedyclub.com.
On the horizon is comedian Tom Green, who has a fresh stand-up TV special that is still in rotation on Showtime.
Marino — who had been looking for a good use for the downstairs room since he opened the restaurant last year — is excited about hosting the Funny Farm.
He said Ausintown is experiencing business growth, and pointed to the upcoming casino-racetrack project as another sign of Austintown’s emergence as an entertainment destination.