Coronation Park Grimsby will be the scene of Comedy Night in Grimsby’s rookie performance next Wednesday, July 28, starting at 7 p.m.
The inaugural event is being staged by Grimsby’s Downtown Improvement Area Board as one of its initiatives to help the business community in the core bounce back from a third COVID-19-related lockdown.
“It goes beyond that, though,” said Mike Williscraft, DIA’s president.
“The community needs to get out. We need to see people, talk to people and if we can work in a few laughs, well, even better.”
Williscraft explained this year’s events, which will run five consecutive Wednesdays up to and including Aug. 26, is a “test run” of sorts.
“Our board has been planning some special events for next year’s Grimsby centennial and this is one of them,” said Williscraft.
“For next year, and hopefully beyond, 2021’s run will be like a seed event for what we hope could turn into a comedy festival next year. There will be more to say about that as the summer unfolds, but that is the direction and the plan.”
DIAs have two prime mandates, beautification of their area and a mandate to promote and market their core with an eye to building traffic to support businesses which are in its footprint.
“Working with David Green, who is festival director for the Garden City Comedy Festival, has been seamless. We have our line-ups for each show set up with great headliners and a mix of local talent,” said Williscraft.
Of the kick-off headliner Roy Daye, Green says, “Roy Daye is a Jamaican born, Canadian raised stand-up comic whose styling reflects both his North American upbringing and his spicy Caribbean heritage. His show is engaging, quick and smart.”
And it will all be free.
“We talked about making it a fundraiser, passing a hat, doing a 50/50, something, but this is for the community. We were going to launch next year, but we need this now,” said Williscraft.
Very important is to note all the shows will be family friendly and all COVID protocols will be adhered to, which will mean the maximum capacity for the event is 100.
“People may be passing by in the park or stopping for a few minutes on the sidewalk along Main and that’s ok but, in the park, we will be counting to 100,” said Williscraft.
“We’ve been working with recreation services to plan everything and we will learn a bit as we go, but it will be safe for all and we’d welcome all who choose to come by. If we get 100 for five straight nights, great, we’re off and running.”
The shows will be about 90 minutes with three comedians all leading up to that night’s headliner.
“We’ll have details in each edition of NewsNow the rest of the summer noting who’s on the next bill. David has put together some great, young talent with headliners who have opened for the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan and Robin Williams like Aug. 11th’s Ian Sirota has,” said Williscraft.
Aug. 4, Scott Faulconbridge – who has been seen on numerous televised comedy specials including CTV’s Comedy Now, CBC’s“Comics’, The Winnipeg Comedy Festival, The Halifax Comedy Festival and over a dozen appearances at The Internationally acclaimed Just For Laughs Festival – headlines.
“There won’t be food or drinks for sale. This is a stripped down version. We’ve got great restaurants steps away, so come down, grab a bite and walk over to the show,” said Williscraft, noting it is a no-alcohol event.
The comedy series is part of a concerted plan to establish Grimsby as a focal point for foodies, entertainment, and shopping.
“We’ve got a lot of great restaurants in this town and no sector needs a boost more than those folks. We’ve got the Grimsby Music Live event g going on Thursday nights at 13 Mountain, add in the comedy component and mix in a hint of art and we think we’ve got a winning recipe,” said Williscraft.
The “art” he referred to deals with another DIA plan to be rolled out as part of centennial programming, but plans are in their infancy. More will be rolled out on that aspect when ready.
“Come on out. Have a bite, shop, just socialize and get in a chuckle along the way. Downtown is waiting for you,” said Williscraft.