BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
The Laughing Devil Comedy Club, which has been bringing laughs to Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City since 2011, is transitioning to its new form as The Standing Room.
Alongside two partners, brothers and Ridgewood natives Paul and Chris Italia are coming in as the new owners and managers of the establishment. The brothers also run The Stand comedy venue in Manhattan and have worked as managers for comics for a decade.
The Italias have already begun handling programming at the Laughing Devil, and expect to officially take the reins at the venue by the end of the summer.
Paul Italia said their experience in the business will draw big names to the club, noting that star comedians such as Judah Friedlander, Tracy Morgan, Louis CK and Sarah Sillverman have all performed at The Stand.
“We’re trusted as managers. It’s a brand that [comics] believe in,” Chris said.
However, Chris added that The Standing Room will also welcome up-and-coming and local comedians.
“There’s certainly a wealth of comedians in the area,” he said. “That’s our emphasis – to make it a home for them, a place where they can work stuff out.”
“Most of the nights of the week, you’re going to see locally produced shows, and then you’re going to see very pro-centered shows on Friday and Satuday,” Paul explained.
Steve Hofstetter, who ran the Laughing Devil, said he is optimistic for the future of the club under the Italias’ management.
“The Stand is one of the best clubs in New York City and it will be great to see the booking power that they have there translate to Long Island City,” Hofstetter said. “We always prided ourselves on being neighborhood people, and Chris used to live down the street from the club, so it’s good to keep it in the family, even if it’s the extended family.”
Both brothers emphasized that programming at The Standing Room will incorporate a diverse range of comedic performances, such as variety shows, live podcasting, open mics and more.
Of their expansion across the East river, Paul said, “We see Long Island City as an opportunity. The reality is that the comedy scene is growing outside of Manhattan,” adding that he is excited about the spot’s proximity to other art and performance hotspots in Brooklyn, such as Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
Rebecca Trent, owner of Creek and Cave restaurant and comedy venue in Long Island City, expressed a similar view about the comedy scene in the area.
“The greatest thing about Long Island City is its location,” Trent said. “We’re one stop out of the City, one stop from Brooklyn – the Midtown Tunnel and Long Island Rail Road, everything comes right there.”
While The Standing Room seeks to attract the best comedians to Long Island City, Trent said Creek and Cave aims to draw out the best talent and concepts locally.
“There are a lot of places where you can perform standup, but we would like to be a place where it’s okay to take risks,” Trent said. “Some shows are really more workout rooms, some shows are incredibly crazy.”
Creek and Cave has programming seven days a week, with 13 weekly open mics and 25 weekly podcast tapings.
Like his brother, Chris Italia said that he appreciates the potential for their new club in this area of Queens.
“There are so many people who live there now…it just makes sense to have as much entertainment in the area as possible, because it deserves it,” he said.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.