Cleveland offers some of the most diverse comedic entertainment available today in a number of locations. One of the best is Hilarities, part of Pickwick and Frolic
in the East Fourth Street Entertainment District
, downtown. Housed on the lower level, patrons travel through the restaurant and lounge area to the ticket booth and then, down a flight of stairs to the waiting stage.
"We're a hybrid between theater and nightclub/restaurant and it's intended to be that way. Most people don't go to a comedy club and expect to find quality food. Here you can do everything in one location," explained John Lorince, Director of Marketing for Pickwick and Frolic.
Almost a signature of any comedy club, the brick wall and mic sit directly in the north corner of the room, providing good views from nearly all seats. General and preferred seating are both available; the latter is an automatic upgrade with advance ticket purchase.
With 425 total seats available, including excellent balcony skyboxes for groups of 8-12, the theater has a surprisingly intimate feel. Individual tables are closest to the stage and the box office employees advise that people may be seated with strangers, regardless of when tickets are purchased. Behind the stand-alone tables are banquette seats, comfortable and adorned with plush fabric as well as a small table above the leg section to rest beverages and food.
"Every comic will tell you it's one of the top three comedy clubs in the nation because of the seating, there's no drink minimum, and it's about an experience you get from the minute you walk through the door. We raised the bar on the expectations of how we feel you should experience comedy. For a performer, they like the idea that it is intimate. They enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy the clientele. The audiences are generally really great audiences," said Lorince.
Tickets and Performances:
The night I visited, tickets for a Saturday night show (performances are generally at 7:30 and 10:15 pm on weekends, and 8 pm only on weekdays) ran approximately $25 apiece. However, prices vary depending on the performer and event. Most shows are 21 and older, only, unless otherwise specified. Kenny Rogerson was the headlining comedian that evening. He followed two other witty individuals who are apparently trying to break through into the big leagues. An observational humorist, Rogerson is billed as the "funniest comedian you've never heard of" and it seems a fair assessment.
Hilarities also features many acts that are household names, including Kevin Pollack, Paul Riser, Louie Anderson and Sinbad.
Amenities at Hilarities:
Cocktail service is readily available and efficient, with a buzzer for summoning service at nearly every seating area. Guests need only push the device, watch it light up and wait for prompt arrival of their waitress. Limited food service is also available, including appetizers and sandwiches, though my visit did not include trying these items.
Seating is comfortable and it wasn't difficult to hear performers. I wasn't particularly impressed with having to walk through a complicated, busy route to get to the theater and thought a better route would be advisable. Also, because the venue is housed in a lower-level location, a slightly damp, musty smell was pervasive. While it wasn't overwhelming, it was noticeable.
Service staff was welcoming and friendly and after a patron's first visit, the trek through the dining, martini bar and cabaret areas isn't difficult to navigate
Special events aren't forgotten at Hilarities, either.
Opened in the summer is a patio area with 100 seats directly overlooking East 4th Street.
Hilarities Comedy Club
2035 E 4th St.
Cleveland, OH 44115