For a moment, I forgot I wasn’t in a New York City comedy club.
It’s been a decade since I went to my first comedy show, but the black walls and belly laughs brought me right back to the Big Apple.
Then, as the comedians cracked relatable jokes about Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie that had the audience in tears with laughter, I remembered I was in the historic Sunrise Theatre’s Black Box.
It also reminded me of the fun experience I had many years ago going with friends to a comedy show at Riverside Theatre’s Waxlax Stage.
On the Treasure Coast, both theaters use their second spaces for regular comedy shows on the weekends — the second and fourth Saturdays at the Sunrise and every other Friday and Saturday at Riverside.
The Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce has comedy shows every second and fourth Saturday of the month in the intimate Black Box. (Photo: LAURIE K. BLANDFORD/TCPALM)
Marketing director Oscar Sales Jr., who’s been with Riverside since 2005, helped bring comedy to the area.
The Waxlax Stage opened in 2007 with the purpose of showcasing off-Broadway plays during season, from January through April, but the theater needed to do something with the space between May and December.
So Riverside added comedy shows once a month.
“It was a matter of bringing adults into the building when we weren’t having shows, giving them another entertainment option,” Sales said.
In 2012, comedy shows expanded to twice a month to twice a weekend to twice a night. In 2016, the theater added the Howl at the Moon Experience, making the dueling piano shows and comedy shows rotate every weekend. Plus, the theater added free outdoor live music before both types of shows.
Not only did Riverside need to find a way to make money when the seasonal residents left town, Sales said, the theater also didn’t want to forget about locals during the summer.
“It’s done pretty well,” Sales said. “The response has been phenomenal.”
Riverside uses The Comedy Zone to book comedians while the Sunrise uses Casey ‘N’ Spaz Comedy. They bring in professional comedians, including some locals, who have been on TV and in movies and performed stand-up comedy across the world.
The comedy shows aren’t for kids. Even if they’re billed as clean comics, they still talk about adult situations.
“They know how to read an audience,” Sales said. “While the Vero Beach audience is probably a little more reserved than a New York City audience, they can adjust their comedy to feel the room.”
The shows are intimate in the multipurpose rooms that don’t have set seating configurations. Riverside’s Waxlax Stage has 192 seats compared to its main theater’s 672 seats. The Sunrise’s Black Box has 220 seats compared to its main theater’s 1,200 seats.
Both locations have full bars for beers and cocktails. The Sunrise has free popcorn while Riverside sells food from an outside grill that can be brought into the show.
It’s all part of Sales working to change the perception that the theater is too upscale and daunting to visit.
“It’s not intimidating,” Sales said. “It’s a place where everyone can come and have a good time.”
Laurie K. Blandford is TCPalm’s entertainment reporter and columnist dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Read her weekly column, Laurie’s Stories, on TCPalm.com. Follow her on Twitter at @TCPalmLaurie or Facebook at faceboook.com/TCPalmLaurie.
Sunrise Theatre comedy shows
- When: 8:30 p.m. second and fourth Saturdays monthly
- Where: Black Box, 117 S. Second St., Fort Pierce
- Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door (except special events)
- Tickets: 772-461-4775 or www.sunrisetheatre.com
May 11: Doug Canney & Shannon Hall
June 8: Erik Myers & Sara Geimer
July 27: Jim Florentine & two other comics ($20-$25)
Riverside Theatre comedy shows
- When: 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday from May to December
- Where: Waxlax Stage, 3250 Riverside Park Drive, Vero Beach
- Cost: $12 for side seats, $14-$18 for table seating, $36 for private VIP booth
- Tickets: 772-231-6990 or www.riversidetheatre.com/comedy-zone
May 17-18: Ron Feingold & John Charles
May 31-June 1: Al Ernst & Carmen Vallone
June 14-15: Peter Fogel & Ben Jones
June 28-29: Frank Del Pizzo & Ken Miller
July 13-14: John Carfi & Cam Bertrand
July 26-27: Mr. Showtime David Scott & Brian Aldridge
Aug. 9-10: Devin Seibold & Bill “Bull” Ohse
Aug. 23-24: Carl Guerra & Chris Z!
Sept. 6-7: Shaun Jones & Bob Lauver
Sept. 20-21: Tim “The Dairy Farmer” & BC Murphy
Read or Share this story: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/entertainment/whattodoin772/2019/05/08/laugh-up-adults-only-comedy-shows-vero-beach-fort-pierce/1092194001/