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This article was published 25/9/2019 (282 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg’s newest comedy club is billing itself as a place free from the shackles of political correctness.
Crickets Comedy Club was started by comedian Chris Mulawyshyn in Thunder Bay, Ont., in 2016. It opened a second location this month in the former Winnipeg Press Club room in the basement of The Marlborough Hotel at 331 Smith St.
"We are very clear about not censoring any of the comedians whatsoever," says Taylor Green, Crickets’ manager of business development. "Some of the comics might be edgy… but we don’t limit it because we believe it’s an art form and that the best at what they do need to be able to use all the tools at their disposal."
Expanding into Winnipeg was a natural choice because of proximity and competition.
It’s expensive to fly comedians from western Canada into Thunder Bay, but Green says the new location will allow for cost effective tours between the two cities. Winnipeg is also devoid of any national comedy club chains, like Yuk Yuk's or Ontario’s Absolute Comedy.
"Rumor’s has been here for a very long time and it has a good reputation," he says. "We believe Winnipeg is big enough to have two great, functioning comedy clubs."
Being located downtown, Green expects to draw a different clientele than Rumor’s and Crickets is taking a different approach to formatting with a host, an opener, featured acts and a headliner every show.
The club had its soft opening last weekend with sets by Canadian comedian Ron Vaudry and Winnipeg’s own Chris Basso. Crickets currently stages two shows Friday and Saturday evenings and Green says the goal is to offer entertainment Tuesdays through Saturdays, including a weekly open mic night.
The room, which has a 100-person capacity, was the home base for the Winnipeg Press Club for more than a decade, from 1997 to 2008. (Prior to its move downstairs, the Press Club was located on the mezzanine of The Marlborough from 1961 to 1997). Upgrades were needed to prep the space for the public, but because of the hotel’s heritage status renovations had to be completed with care and a little bit of creativity. The work was completed by The Marlborough and Crickets handled the sound and lighting components.
"The entire room is brick, so we couldn’t drill into the brick and we couldn’t mess around with anything structural," Green says. "Everything has basically been left as is and we’ve found ways to work around those things."
Crickets has a full food and beverage menu and is planning a grand opening event for late October.
Upcoming headliners include Lori Ferguson-Ford on Sept. 27 and 28 and Shannon Laverty on Nov. 14 and 15. Tickets are available at the door, on Eventbrite.ca or through the Crickets Comedy Club Winnipeg Facebook page.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
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