Bring the funny: JPAC to present comedy series

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Jake Magee
September 2, 2015

JANESVILLE—The Armory might not be hosting comedy nights anymore, but worry not, comedy fans: The Janesville Performing Arts Center is here to pick up the mantle.

The center has announced plans for its first comedic series, titled Comedy on Main. The adults-only series runs six nights from October through May.

Don't let the 18-plus age restriction deter you. While some comedians might refer to mature content in their routines, no one's going to be dropping F-bombs or discussing vulgar subjects, JPAC Director Beau Bisson said.

“Generally, we want to make it as fun and engaging as possible without alienating people,” he said.

While some of the top comedians today rely on raunchy material to stand out, Bisson notes that Jim Gaffigan—one of the most popular comedians around—works clean.

“Personally, when I'm watching comics, people's vulgar routines can sometimes pull me out of it,” he said.

While Gaffigan won't be at Comedy on Main, there will be plenty of funny folks to entertain patrons. Each show will have an opening act, so presentations are basically two shows for the price of one. At $10 a night, the shows are a steal, Bisson said.

The Armory used to charge $10 for admission to its comedy shows, so JPAC decided to keep the price in place to keep it as an attractive option, Bisson said.

“To capture a section of that audience, we knew that price point worked for the people in the community,” he said.

JPAC hopes to capture a new audience, too. With musicals and plays as its  regular offerings, comedy shows could potentially attract a younger crowd.

“We're really excited to see a new group of people in here,” said Kari Dray, JPAC's director of sales and marketing. “It's something different.”

JPAC officials didn't have a direct hand in choosing which comedians will take over the stage the next several months. Instead, they hired a comedy-booking agent who specializes in small-club comics, trusting him and his reputation. Bisson hasn't seen the comedians live but said he's watched video clips of their acts.

“They've got some great material,” he said.

The comics will perform not on the JPAC's main stage but in the gallery, which is limited to 100 audience members. It should make for a more personal experience, Dray said.

“I think it will make for that really cool vibe and atmosphere having that smaller space,” she said.

JPAC is testing the waters with the event but wants to see it continue.

“Hopefully we even see (it) grow over time,” Bisson said.

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