They say there’s tragedy in comedy, and for comedian and comedy club entrepreneur Rick Bronson, that was certainly the case.
On September 11, 2001, the owner and purveyor of the recently opened Rick Bronson’s Comedy Club in North Phoenix, was in the hospital for his Crohn’s Disease. Family and friends were convinced he was on his death bed, and when he watched the second plane his the World Trade Center, he wasn’t sure if it was real life or a hallucination, thanks to the morphine.
So there’s your tragedy. The comedy came after, when Bronson realized his dream of opening a comedy club. There was no reason not to pursue it once he was released from the hospital.
“I needed to find a way to make a buck that I was still doing something I loved, but I didn’t have to be on the guy 40 weeks ago living that lifestyle of poor sleep, late hours, eating late at night—just things that aren’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle.”
Since then, Bronson has unveiled four clubs in Bloomington, Minnesota, Alberta, Canada, East Rutherford, New Jersey and now, a North Phoenix addition earlier this month. Most comedy clubs are situated close entertainment meccas in Old Town, Tempe or Downtown Phoenix, but Bronson saw potential in the burgeoning North Phoenix shopping center High Street.
The club’s opening party included a performance from “Half Baked” comedian Harland Williams and the club’s first week featured T.J. Miller, comedy “it” guy and “Silicon Valley” oaf.
Bronson wants to draw big names, but he also wants to draw the names behind the big names. Writers and road comedians are welcome, too.
“We really tried to build the club to be exactly what comics want,” Bronson says. “There’s certain things that comedians love. Comedians love a room that feels intimate, they love a room with low ceilings, sound is key. I probably spend more on sound and light than a lot of comedy guys who are opening a comedy club. That’s not to say that other clubs aren’t good, but it’s that I’m such a stickler for perfect sound and perfect light. My attitude is that, no matter where you sit in the theater, everyone should have that exact same experience.”
Bronson considers himself a bit of a foodie, so he wanted to create a menu to reflect that.
“Most people equate comedy clubs with ‘OK, here’s some popcorn, here’s some nachos, and here’s something we fried up really quick that we found dead on the street, so enjoy,’” Bronson jokes. “We try to take a lot of pride.”
Hailing from Montreal, which he considers one of the culinary capitals of North America, his standards are high. Expect to find specialty burgers, flatbreads, creative salads and of course, poutine—a Canadian staple.
Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy, 5350 E. High Street, Suite 105, Phoenix, 480.420.3553, az.houseofcomedy.net