The Louisville Comedy Club opened on March 10 at 110 W. Main Street downtown, across from the Old Forester Distillery and just a block from the KFC Yum! Center.
The club is the newest venture from the family-owned Bark Entertainment, which is owned by Renee Fandt; her husband, Kevin Fandt; her son, Adam Norwest; and his wife, Bree Norwest.
The Louisville Comedy Club seats nearly 300 and is large enough to attract top touring acts. Upcoming headliners include Bryan Callen (Coach Mellor on ABC’s The Goldbergs), Mark Normand (Comedy Central), and Pablo Francisco (Comedy Central)
Bark Entertainment also owns five other clubs — Tacoma Comedy Club and Spokane Comedy Club in Washington; Bricktown Comedy Club in Oklahoma City; Skyline Comedy Club in Appleton, Wisc.; and Summit City Comedy Club in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The General Manager of the Louisville Comedy Club is Bridget Friel. She agreed to answer questions about the club and what opportunities there are for local comedians.
Louisville Laughs: Your club opened on March 10. Was it a rush to get ready?
Bridget Friel: We are open now, but there was still much to do in our last week such as staff training, stocking, and setting up our Point of Sale System! Thankfully, we hired an amazing staff and everyone worked very hard our opening weekend!
What is your background in working in clubs and comedy?
I started off as a server at our location in Appleton, WI — Skyline Comedy Club. From there I stepped into the GM role and also worked on the administration side of the business.
I managed in Wisconsin for a little over two years before moving to Louisville where I project managed the build here as well as the one in Fort Wayne, IN. Now that both locations are open, I will stay here and manage The Louisville Comedy Club.
Do you hire people for positions at the club who want to get into standup comedy?
Absolutely! We love to support our local comics, which includes bringing them into the staff.
Bark Entertainment is really expanding from a few clubs in the Pacific Northwest, adding clubs across the country during the pandemic. It seems like difficult timing. How is that going?
The expansion is going well — we opened two clubs in the last three months and another will open this summer in Tulsa, OK!
What made a club in Louisville attractive to Bark Entertainment?
We are very attracted to the Midwest market because for the central locations and the people! Louisville felt like a place where we could fill a need — for how large the city is there was not an A-List comedy club.
Why the downtown location?
As a company, our downtown locations typically perform better, and we were compelled by the idea of being located on ‘Whiskey Row.’
Your open mics will be on Wednesdays. How can comics sign up for them and future Wednesday open mics?
During the month of March we will do on-site sign ups but come April comics will be able to sign up online at openmicer.com!
How much time will comics get on your open mics and how many comics do you usually allow?
Comics will get about 4 minutes, and we typically cap our show at 20-25 comics.
Do you plan to use local comics as hosts, features or headliners?
Yes, we do plan to book local hosts and features. And are open to off-night shows for local headliners as well.
What’s the best way for local and regional comics to reach out for work at your club?
Comics can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org! I typically ask for a 5-10 minute clip and their avails for the next four months along with a short bio.
Currently, your calendar is showing an Open Mic on Wednesdays and generally a show Thursdays, two shows Fridays and Saturdays with an occasional Sunday and Tuesday show. Do you plan other days and times in the future?
That is our current schedule, and we hope to add more shows as we continue to grow and become a larger part of the community.
Your first couple months of shows seem to have all male headliners. Do you plan to have more women on stage?
Absolutely! It is important to us that we provide a dynamic line up so that we have shows everyone will enjoy!
Your Barrel Bar is in the front of the club on Main Street. Will it be open only on show days?
Our bar will, eventually, operate 7 days a week from 7 a.m. for breakfast to bar close!