Hamilton’s comedy scene needs help and it’s no laughing matter.
Well, that’s not entirely true: Our local comedians are hilarious and they are hoping to gather community support to keep Hamiltonians laughing in the weeks, months and years ahead.
Hamilton’s independently owned and comic-run comedy club, Levity Comedy Club & Lounge, launched a GoFundMe earlier this month to raise funds to ensure the club can reopen when the time comes.
Local comedian Patrick Coppolino, who is also the club’s manager/talent booker/promoter, started the ‘Save the Laughter in Hamilton’ GoFundMe as a response to the pandemic and the impact it’s having on comedy in Hamilton.
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“It was a shock when it happened,” Coppolino said of the order to close businesses. “It’s been weird not working and not being able to perform.”
The club, like all local businesses, was forced to close down in mid-March with the province’s declaration of a state of emergency, and since then, it’s been a struggle to figure out how to come out the other side of the closure because venues like Levity will be the last to reopen.
“The longer this is going on, the more concerning it becomes,” Coppolino said. “It’s a long waiting game and we’re just trying to take it day by day.”
As patios reopen, the possibility of performing in an open-air setting seems logical, but for the time being, it’s not an option given that the province is not allowing live performances.
“If that [performing on patios] becomes a possibility, we’d definitely take advantage of it,” Coppolino said.
During the lockdown, Coppolino has kept busy online by posting videos (you have to check out his Family Guy impressions) and hosting a live stream of Friday 420, the radio show Coppolino hosts alongside local comedian Manolis Zontanos and radio personality Mike Nabuurs — one of their recent guests was Russell Peters.
He and some local comedians also have plans to do some live-stream shows from the club, which they still have access to for filming, that will be free for people to watch.
“It will be weird without a physical audience,” Coppolino said. “But we’ll see what we can do.”
Before the lockdown began, he and some of his fellow comedians had some new projects in the works that they were close to producing but the pandemic has put everything on hold.
Coppolino told InTheHammer that much of the proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards getting these projects up and running quickly once it’s deemed safe to do so.
“We just hope [reopening] will be feasible with a smaller capacity,” he said.
He is confident, however, that whenever the time comes, they will have no problem filling the seats.
“There’s been lots of support from big-name comedians who’ve expressed an interest in playing smaller clubs when this is over,” Coppolino said.
There is added incentive to donate to the GoFund Me campaign beyond providing support for our local comedy scene: For those who contribute to the fundraiser, they will have an opportunity to take in some of the club’s shows.
Contributions of $10 or more will be rewarded with tickets to any upcoming regular show and donations of $250 or more earns you a one-year all-you-can laugh pass that will be valid for one year after our re-opening date (to be determined).
The campaign’s goal is to raise $10,000 and so far, it’s a little under halfway there.
“We’re really looking forward to doing comedy in front of people again,” Coppolino said.
“Especially Hamilton audiences. Audiences in Hamilton are harder to please but once you crack them, they’re a lot of fun.”
In the meantime, there are a number of places one can go to get a taste for the Hamilton comedy scene.
Coppolino said joining the Hamilton Comedy Community Facebook is a good place to start — it’s where active local comedians post and share what they’re up to.
The group is closed but admins are quick to respond to requests to join.
You can also start following the Levity Comedy Club Facebook page.
Then there are several podcasts and comedy specials featuring Hamilton comics including Zontanos, Jason Allen, AJ Bate, and Doug Koning, to name a few.
And if you’re wondering what sets Hamilton’s comics apart, consider Coppolino’s insight on the subject:
“Hamilton seems to spawn some brutally honest storytellers. Other cities have great comics but a lot of them tend to be more character-driven. There’s a lot more self-deprecating comedians in Hamilton.”
Photo courtesy the Levity Comedy Club & Lounge Facebook page