The Boston comedy scene continues to evolve in an everything that's old is new again sort of way, and the news of Boston's newest comedy club is no different in that respect.
Tommy's Comedy Lounge opens on Saturday, May 2, in the historic Charles Playhouse at 74 Warrenton St., in Boston's theater district. Which, as old-timers will quickly figure out, was where the Comedy Connection used to be years before it migrated to Faneuil Hall (and then in the past year, into the nearby Wilbur Theatre). And one of the two co-owners, in fact, is Frank Ahearn, who used to run the Connection. Ahearn is running Tommy's with Boston City Councilor John Tobin, who himself helped get the Boston Comedy Festival up and running (as well as the new Boston Comedy Hall of Fame). So there's plenty of tradition here already.
Their plan for Tommy's — which they named after Thomas Wignell, an Englishman who reportedly became one of America's first known comedic actors in the 18th century — is to offer improv and sketch comedy on Thursdays, and stand-up on Fridays and Saturdays. "We saw that there was an absence of local comedy that needed to be filled…that was hilarious and affordable," Tobin said in a press release.
That could be construed as a jab, certainly, at Bill Blumenreich, who took the Connection out of Faneuil Hall, and with it, opportunities for the local up-and-comers and headliners.
Tommy's seats 120, with ticket prices of $15-$20. Although they say they're aiming to "grow the next generation of stand-up comedians," the early schedule pays tribute to the previous generation of Boston comedy. After Saturday's opening night with Jim Dunn, Dave Russo and Harrison Stebbins, the slate for May and June headliners reads like this: Mike McDonald and Steve Sweeney; Mike Donovan; Tom Cotter; Don Gavin; Steve Sweeney again; Rich Ceisler; Tony V; and Jim Dunn again. They're all funny guys, and some of them should be huger than they are. But no one would call these guys next generation.
That would be what's happening over at Mottley's Comedy Club in the alley near Faneuil Hall or The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square. Tommy's looks like it's squarely going after Dick Doherty's crowd at The Vault, and Nick's Comedy Stop a few doors down, which somehow continues to proclaim itself "Boston's best comedy club." It'll be interesting, as always, to see how the new club impacts the others.