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Funny Bone Expanding Easton Comedy Club

Walker Evans Walker Evans Funny Bone Expanding Easton Comedy ClubPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The Funny Bone Comedy Club launched at Easton Town Center when the mall first opened its doors in 1999, and after 16 years, owner Dave Stroupe decided that it was time for a change.

“The space had become a little antiquated and needed updating, so we decided that we could either renovate just a little bit, or we could go bigger,” said Stroupe. “Yaromir Steiner (CEO of Steiner + Associates, the property management company at Easton) is a big-picture guy, so of course, he wanted us to go bigger.”

For Stroupe, that means a three-part project that begins with the relocation of the main stage into a brand new auditorium that will be able to accommodate up to 450 people (the old auditorium sat 280 guests). The new two-level space is replacing the old outdoor patio that was originally accessed from the bar.

“The patio was highly underutilized,” explained Stroupe. “To me, patios are people-watching areas, and this one was looking at a parking garage and a concrete wall. We could just never figure out how to use it.”

The new auditorium is expected to open next week. Phase two of the renovations will see the old auditorium converted into new “back of the house” facilities that include a new green room for comedians, and a new booking office for Stroupe, who manages 13 other comedy clubs from the Columbus home base. Phase three will see a reconfiguration of the entire bar area, as well as a makeover for the box office booth.

“Our busy season runs November through April, and we’ve been having a great year,” said Stroupe. “So we’re duking it out with construction during the spring and then when it starts to get really hot again in the summer, people will be ready to come back inside.”

Stroupe said that the comedy world has evolved a lot in the 25 years that he’s been in the business

“In late 80s and early 90s, you could just promote stand up comedy and people would show up,” he explained. “But now it’s a name-driven business, which can be unfortunate because some of the people you’ve never heard of are the funniest acts out there.”

Stroupe acknowledged that there’s been a spike in popularity in recent years, which has been a boost to business.

“Comedy podcasts are huge,” he said. “There’s acts like Tom Segura and Joe Rogan… Deathsquad is huge… Marc Maron’s carved out a nice fan base and career… podcasting is really helping the way our industry is going. There’s always a roller coaster effect of who’s doing clubs and who’s doing theaters each year… and Last Comic Standing will usually boost a few people up each year too.”

Stroupe said that the larger venue capacity at Funny Bone may help with landing acts who are interested in larger theater-size spaces, but are still looking for a more intimate club venue where they can work through new material, often when prepping to record a big special.

For more information, visit www.funnybone.com/Venues/Columbus/.

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