Raising the Comedy Bar – Jamaica Observer
Christopher “Johnny” Daley (Photo: Ellis)
The past two years have impacted all areas of the entertainment industry globally; therefore, the recent announcement of an opening of the sector by Prime Minister Andrew Holness was greeted with joy and anticipation by industry players.
The local stand-up comedy scene had taken its legs and firmly established itself in the local entertainment scene in the years leading up to the novel coronavirus pandemic. This was largely due to the efforts of comedian, stage and film actor, and media personality Christopher “Johnny” Daley.
His Comedy Bar series served as a conduit to introduce Jamaican audiences to this brand of entertainment, which gave local stand-up comedians an opportunity to hone their skills and hone their craft. However, this too has been hit hard by the pandemic.
This Thursday, the Comedy Bar reopens after two years with what an excited Daley describes as a wonderful season opener.
“I’m very excited about what we have to offer. With restrictions easing and the entertainment industry opening up, we have partnered with Richie D Entertainment to reopen the Comedy Bar in a new location. Beat @ Serengeti is located at Hope Zoo and they wanted the perfect filler for their Thursday nights and thought why not comedy. So when I looked at the Comedy Bar portfolio, I realized the location was perfect for what we do. We understood that the product may be beyond Johnny’s Place [it’s previous venue], and we saw this place as being perfect for this type of entertainment. The space, atmosphere, parking and security came together for us,” Daley told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview.
While being a training ground and stage for local talent, Daley said he had always dreamed that the Comedy Bar would also open its doors to regional and international talent.
Kathy “Tan Deh Deh” Scholarship
This dream is now coming true. Daley and his team are working to bring in a stand-up comedian from the Caribbean or the United States at least once a month — on the last Thursday — starting this month.
“We have seen the brand grow. I have worked extensively outside of Jamaica and everywhere I go I share the Comedy Bar story. So, when I perform in the region or in North America, I hear other comedians say to me: “When are you inviting me to the Comedy Bar? So it’s great that our Jamaican product is attracting outside attention.
“So for this season’s opener, our special guest is Allan D’Entertainer from Trinidad. We first met at a show in St Maarten and I was so impressed with his exceptional talent that I thought he would be perfect for the Comedy Bar. I love his energy and a lot of people say he reminds me of him, in terms of his stage presence. He’s Trini to the core with great global appeal and should be great on Thursday,” Daley continued.
Allan D’Entertainer will share the stage with Kathy “Tan Deh Deh” Grant and Daley himself.
The comedian and promoter also noted that while it is difficult to gain support, in terms of sponsorship for stand-up comedy here in Jamaica, compared to other areas of entertainment, such as music, the popularity of the art form is definitely growing and has an audience here on the island.
“Jamaicans are very exposed. Many of our customers tell me that when they go on holiday abroad, they visit comedy clubs and are therefore happy to have this kind of entertainment offered here at home. They also watch the comedy specials on TV and streaming services such as netflix often compliment the level of our acts, noting that they are often on par with international artists. Many of our customers have come back to say they remember when Shuler King was at the Comedy Bar, and now they see him on Nick Canon’s Wild N’ Out. So we’re not doing a second-rate show, that’s a great thing,” he noted.
Despite the two-year layoff, Daley said the comedians are by no means rusty and ready to put on a show for their audiences.
“It’s like riding a bike. Once on stage, everything comes back. The truth is, some of us were able to work and stay sharp during the height of the pandemic thanks to virtual space and people like Dufton Shepherd and his ‘Unbalanced’ series. We’ve missed the stage so much that we can’t wait to get out there and put on a show,” Daley said.
Kathy “Tan Deh Deh” Scholarship