In hard times people want to laugh, and in political seasons, they want to talk politics.
At least that’s how Larry Sells sees it.
“In a depression, and we’re in one, comedy is more popular,” said Sells, who owns the Uptown Theater at 3700 Broadway. “It goes back to Will Rogers, who played at the Uptown once, by the way. Comedy shows are a way to hear about politics and the social issues and problems we’re having. Or they can also be a form of escapism, a way to forget about all those problems.”
The Uptown has two comedy shows booked this month: Lisa Lampanelli on March 24 (tickets start at $36.75) and Adam Carolla on March 30 ($27.50 and up). Sells said he expects Lampanelli to sell out the theater, which has a capacity of 1,600 for comedy shows, even though it’s her fourth appearance there since 2007. The Carolla show is also doing well, he said.
“Compared to ticket prices for some of the concerts, which go from $60 to $300, comedy is a good deal,” he said. “We’ve seen an uptick in ticket sales in general lately, including for the comedians.”
Several other comedy shows are booked in March and April, many of which are sold out. Two comedians coming to the Midland, Ron White and Jim Gaffigan, added second shows after the initial shows sold out. Now those are sold out, too.
Gaffigan’s appearance March 22 will be his second at the Midland in four years; Saturday will be White’s first. Word is out in the comedy circuits about the Midland as a venue but also about Kansas City as a good comedy town, said Larry Hovick, general manager at the Midland.
“We’ve established ourselves with comedians and agents,” he said. “They like the sound, they like the room, they know the audiences are first-rate, so they want to come back. Gaffigan has been here before. Jerry Seinfeld has been here twice (since the Midland remodeled), and I expect he’ll come back when he goes out on the road again.”
Hovick said he expects the Midland to book several more comedy shows this year. Sells said he was looking at “about three” right now. The Uptown is also planning to turn some of its smaller rooms into part-time comedy clubs.
“It’ll be a small comedy club that will try out local and regional comedians,” he said. “We have several rooms: the Conspiracy Room; the Valentine Room, which has been redecorated; and the Cabaret. We hope to have that kicked off soon.”
Here’s a look at the comedy shows coming up over the next several weeks:The Midland 1228 Main St.
: Ron White performs sold-out shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
: Jim Gaffigan performs sold-out shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
: Aziz Ansari performs at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34.50 to $39.50. Ansari is a standup comedian best known for playing Tom Haverford in the prime-time comedy “Parks and Recreation.”Folly Theater
300 W. 12th St.
Jeanne Robertson performs at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34.50. Robertson, 68, is a former Miss North Carolina and a humorist who tells stories with titles like “Don’t Go to Vegas Without a Baptist,” “Don’t Send a Man to the Grocery Store” and “Don’t Bungee Jump Naked.”Uptown Theater
: Lisa Lampanelli performs at 8 p.m. Tickets are $36.75-$47.20.
: Adam Carolla performs at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.50 to $58.75.Municipal Auditorium
301 W. 13th St.
: Mike Epps performs at 7 p.m. Tickets are $53-$62.Music Hall
301 W. 13th St.
: Daniel Tosh performs two sold-out shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tosh is host of the Comedy Central series “Tosh.0.”Stanford’s Comedy Club
1867 Village West Parkway in The Legends
Stanford’s showcases national comedy acts every weekend and some weekdays. This weekend’s headliner: Jim Jefferies, who will perform Thursday and Friday night and twice Saturday night. Jefferies starred in his own HBO special, “I Swear to God.” For reservations or more information, call 913-400-7500.Drexel Hall
March 17: Suzanne Westenhoefer performs at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$35.