“Laughter is the best medicine.” We’ve all heard that a time or two, and quite often I find it to be true. Whether you’ve had a miserable day and need some cheering up, or you just want to have a hearty belly laugh, a few giggles can lighten your spirit or get you back on the right track.
Lethbridge now has a place dedicated to looking at the funny side of life.
Good Times officially opened to the public on January 5. The brainchild of the Pogo Bros, creators of Oktoberfest YQL, the comedy/variety club was envisioned as a place where people could count on having “not a great time, but a good time,” jokes co-founder Roy Pogorzelski. About a year ago, a group of friends came together with the idea to start a business downtown. The team originally had their hearts set on opening a café. They found a home within the basement at 314 - 7th Street South.
Co-founder John Pogorzelski became involved with the comedy scene four years ago. He was doing a lot of stand-up comedy at the Owl Acoustic Lounge and eventually started running his own shows out of the Telegraph Taphouse and Ales & Tales. “He would travel for shows and he started developing his comedy. And we were always looking for a space where we could have a community space to not only pay respect to the art that is in this community and allow for a diversified space that could be anything to anybody,” says Roy. “We started realizing that Lethbridge didn’t have a comedy club. Medicine Hat has one. There’s pop up ones in different locations, but we didn’t have one here.”
While there have been various comedy nights such as the monthly amateur comedy night at Owl Acoustic Lounge or regular stops by Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Tour, to Roy’s knowledge there’s never been a dedicated club. Excitement would build around these shows to see talented comedians who have been in the arts for a long time, making people laugh. “We started realizing so much local talent when it came to comedy,” he says. “So, we thought, what a great opportunity to provide a space to make that grow.”
Not only that, but there are a lot of people who want to learn how to do comedy – Good Times provides a place for those up-and-comers to hone their craft, learn from the veterans, and perform regularly. “When you’ve got one shot a month to try and make your act good in your city, that’s tough. You really need an audience in comedy to bounce your ideas off of because without an audience you don’t know if it’s going to be funny or not or if it’s going to hit.” Stage time is very important for comedians, he explains, and the club provides not only a regular opportunity to grow but to learn from comedians “that have been in it for a number of years, who’ve travelled around the world doing comedy.” To open a show for a comedian such as Corey Mack, who’s performed for 29 years and won numerous awards and appeared on international comedy shows, is a priceless experience.
On opening night, Good Times received a roaring reception from the community with four sold out or nearly sold out shows featuring a variety of talent from near and far. Top comedians, used to headlining 45-minute shows, each performed seven-minute bits of their best material to promote their upcoming shows. “The energy for every show was insane,” says Roy.
The venue, outfitted in what Roy calls “garage sale chic”, was renovated to give it the classic comedy club feel. It can fit around 100 people for any of the variety club’s shows – including trivia or name that tune nights to hypnotist shows, jazz music concerts, roast battles or open mic nights. They also host comedy workshops and rent the space for other events. Roy hopes the community continues to support “the idea of comedic arts” and embraces the venue as a space where everyone who comes to the door feels included and part of the fabric of what’s happening in the club.
“That’s one of our biggest missions,” he says. “Everyone loves comedy. People in general love laughing, it reduces stress, anxiety, tension; it’s just great to sit back and laugh. These folks have dedicated themselves to the art of making others laugh. We’re just trying to bring that level of laughter and good times to Lethbridge.”
For more information, visit www.goodtimesyql.com or @goodtimesyql on Twitter and Facebook.