How could downtown Boston not have a regular working comedy club?* That was the question I had when the Comedy Connection closed down at the beginning of the summer (yes, it has moved to the Wilbur Theatre, but as you can see from the schedule, it’s not so much of a comedy club as it is a mostly music and sometimes comedy theater venue).
Enter Mottley’s Comedy Club. It opens Sept. 15 (Grand Opening night’s show is Sept. 19) in the basement of Trinity bar near Faneuil Hall and has a capacity of 100. The opening week’s schedule neatly coincides and partners up with the annual Boston Comedy Festival. The owner/operators are Jon Lincoln, Jeff Fairbanks and Tim McIntire. McIntire is a working veteran stand-up from the Boston area. Lincoln and Fairbanks, both Northeastern grads, previously opened and ran the Comedy Lounge in Hyannis for three years before selling off that operation to comic Mary Beth Cowan.
Who is this Mottley character? Lincoln explains: "Back in the 1700s, there was a comedic actor named Joe Miller (died in 1739). He wrote tons of jokes and after he died a writer (by the name
of John Mottley) compiled his jokes and wrote a book called Joe Miller’s Jests. The book became wildly popular and John Mottley continued to add more jokes to it until it had over 1,300. Mottley never
claimed to be the writer and always credited the book to Miller. Mottley continued to add other comedians’ jokes to the book under Miller’s name and as time went by the book and jokes were so overused by people that into the 19th century people started using the term ‘A Joe Miller’ when a joke was stale or overused. So that’s the story of John Mottley and why we liked the name for our club."
Mottley may not have exact ties to Boston, but the lineage ties in to comedy history, and with Boston being old and all, it seems fitting to go old old-school with the naming of the club. Plus, as the new owners have noted, the very similar word "motley" also has a longstanding comedy connection, so to speak.
Their initial booking philosophy includes all sorts of comedians, from the most popular mainstream stand-ups to so-called "alternative" comics, sketch groups, short film filmmakers. "Our goal is to mix different mediums of comedy so that anyone who attends our show will enjoy it," Lincoln says. They also are planning on offering some form of door deal to all of the professional acts.
I’ll have much more to report on the opening of Mottley’s, as well as the changing landscape of the Boston comedy scene, in the days and weeks to come.
*CORRECTION: I should clarify that, in fact, there are two stand-up comedy clubs still open for business in downtown Boston (as well as Improv Asylum in the city’s North End), Nick’s Comedy Stop and Dick’s Beantown Comedy Vault. Both feature mainly local acts, which for Boston, includes plenty of veteran headlining comics. For the purposes of this post, I should have said that by a "regular working comedy club," I meant a venue that regularly books nationally known comedians, like other regular working comedy clubs across America, as shown on my page listing such clubs and their schedules every week.