Ricky J’s, the neighborly restaurant and lounge on 176th St at 68th Ave, has partnered with Alan Smith Entertainment to bring top-tier comedy to Frederickson.
Ricky J’s owner, Kate Lowry, told the Mountain News that she has recently expanded her comedy shows from monthly to now weekly events, with shows every Thursday at 8 pm. Tickets are $10 in advance, $20 at the door.
“It’s been going very well so far,” said Lowry just before last week’s show.
The comedy is provided by another local entrepreneur, Keith Alan Smith, who is also based nearby, in Puyallup.
“I’m booking comedy acts into about thirty different ‘rooms’ across the Pacific Northwest,” Smith said, “and Ricky J’s is going great.”
Besides Ricky J’s, Smith also books and helps organize the monthly comedy nights at JR Whistlestop, a restaurant and lounge located in Spanaway.
As for Ricky J’s, Ms. Lowry has just begun her weekly shows this August, and judging from the forty people in attendance last Thursday she has a solid clientele.
In addition, they seem to enjoy the unique opportunity of experiencing top-notch comedy in south County.
“It’s so amazing to see professional live entertainment here – in Frederickson!” said one patron last week. “This is great!”
As is typical in smaller venues outside of the long-established comedy clubs in Seattle and Tacoma, the talent is a bit variable at both Ricky J’s and JR Whistlestop, but the headliner is always a solid touring professional, such as Marc Yaffee at Ricky J’s last week.
Yaffee has been a professional comic for the past twelve years and has performed on such notables as HBO, Comedy Central and ShowTime. Since he is part-Navaho, Irish, and Mexican, he also travels with an all-Native American comedy group called “The Pow-Wow Comedy Tour.”
Last week, he delivered a forty-five minute show that had the Ricky J’s crowd laughing throughout a steady stream of one-liners and short, situational gags replete with charming self-mockery, such as, “Well, I guess that was about as funny as Michael Vick working at Petco,” which was immediately followed by: “But Michael’s done his time – two years – but that’s fourteen in dog years!”
The Ricky J’s crowd, comprised of a gentle biker group and hard working locals, caught the reference to NFL star Michael Vick’s conviction on dog-fighting charges, and howled.
Before Yaffee took the stage, though, Tacoma comic Nigel Larson delivered a twenty-minute set that was uneven but often charming. Larson was at his best when describing the tribulations of his twenty-something life and trying to make friends, such as on FaceBook.
“Even FaceBook thinks I’m gay,” he exclaimed as he defended his selection of both men and women as those he would like to befriend.
Larson, just recently turned full-time comic pro, admitted that he is still green.
“I fell in to it by default, actually,” he confessed to the Mountain News. “I got fired from my day job and realized that comedy was the only thing I really knew how to do.”
In the meantime, the Rochester, NY native Nigel lives with his grandparents in Tacoma and works on his performance chops, often spending his evenings at the Tacoma Comedy Underground.
Nevertheless, Larson, and any other tender new comic that will grace the stage at Ricky J’s – or JR Whistlestop for that matter – would be well-served if the house had an emcee that could warm up the crowd with a five minute routine that would welcome the crowd and provide a few laughs.
However, the force behind the comedic tsunami that has engulfed south County and elsewhere is clearly Keith Alan Smith.
Smith, who has booked comedy into hundreds of rooms in the past three years, does not see himself as an entertainment agent primarily, but rather, as a business promoter, and that is precisely what Smith has accomplished at Ricky J’s. With his help Kate Lowry has transformed her tavern from a cozy place to grab a beer and burger before the game to one that is now a weekly destination venue for national-level comedy.
“Live comedy is the #1 entertainment in America, right now,” Smith proclaimed.
“I’ve set up comedy shows in over 300 spots in our area,” he says, including the Big Foot Tavern in Eatonville and the Eagles hall. In Roy, Smith has organized shows at the Old Country Store, and at Willoughby’s in Yelm.
“I’ve been dreaming about running my own business since I was 18 years-old,” Smith announced proudly, and he is certainly helping others do the same.
© 2011 Mountain News – WA
All the pictures used above have been provided to the Mountain News by Karelina Resnick, and are © 2011 Karelina Resnick.
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