New “Comedy Monday” Series Launches at Roots Cafe
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Roots Cultural Center has announced the launching of Roots Comedy Monday, a regular night of stand-up and improv, every other Monday, beginning this coming Monday, September 19, at 8pm. Tickets will be $5 at the door. Roots Cultural Center is located at 276 Westminster Street in downtown Providence.
Stand-up plus improv
The September 19 evening will be hosted by Tim Vargulish and will feature performances by James Creelman, Gary Petersen and the improv group, GoatMother, with Andy Mendillo and Mike Varejao. All are Providence-based stand-ups who frequently play The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square, the pre-eminent New England venue for performers who work the prominent late night comedy talk shows. More importantly, it is a breeding ground for staff writers on those same shows. Vargulish, Creelman and Petersen are regularly seen at the best New England area comedy clubs, and Varejao has played New York City's famed Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB).
Upping the funny ante
This regular program is being produced by Lou Viola, a North Providence native and a successful New York-based producer, promoter and agent. Viola will be closely monitoring the bookings with the goal of bringing notable talent to the attention of festival scouts, New York- and Los Angeles-based agents and casting directors.
“I want to create a place for young, undiscovered comedians to come and gather, where they can find a community," Viola said. ”My old North Providence High School buddy, Len Cabral (president of Providence Inner City Arts, which operates Roots Cultural Center) and I have been talking about this concept for some time. Roots is a great venue and we hope to fill a gap in the Rhode Island comedy club scene.”
“Lou has more than 35 years of experience in the world of entertainment," said Cabral. "We’re thrilled that he’s come home to spice up the city with some fun nights – and hopefully, discover some upcoming star comedians of tomorrow.”
Deep comedy background
For years, Viola managed tours for internationally recognized folk music and post-folk music boom musicians. He moved to New York City to become one of the agents responsible for the explosion of live and televised stand-up comedy. He discovered talent and represented stars like Steven Wright, Pee Wee Herman, Jerry Seinfeld, and Steve Martin. Viola went on to become the primary talent booker and producer for HBO's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado from 1994-2005. He also opened and ran a showcase for NBC, which found and recommended anything and everything in comedy that might be considered for network programming. Viola is currently a talent manager and producer living in Brooklyn, NY.
How Amy Poehler fits in
Viola’s inspiration for Roots Comedy Monday is the UCB, which has theaters in both New York City and Hollywood. UCB was founded by Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, and Ian Roberts, and has given a start to comedians like Paul Scheer. Known as a place for great, cutting-edge comedy, it is frequented by the best casting directors, agents and journalists. For audiences, it’s a place where they know they might be seeing the next big comedian. At UCB, Robin Williams, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey and Conan O'Brien have appeared in shows. Among its esteemed alumni are several performers and writers for Saturday Night Live, The Office, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, 30 Rock, Best Week Ever, Old School, Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro and countless other films, commercials and television shows.
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