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Punch lines in Parkville

The Baltimore Sun

Who needs to travel downtown to enjoy a good stand-up comedy show? Why not head to the suburbs?

That's Andrew Unger's mentality. Unger, in partnership with the Bowman Restaurant, will celebrate the grand opening of Magooby's Joke House in Parkville tomorrow and Saturday, featuring stand-up performances from 98 Rock's Mickey Cucchiella.

Unger, who co-hosts the sports comedy radio show The Fighting Ungers with his stand-up comedian brother, Marc, says that operating a comedy club in the suburbs has its obvious advantages: "In our location, guests won't have to pay a lot for parking or have to deal with city traffic."

Magooby's (named by combining the nicknames of Andrew Unger's two sons) will occupy the space formerly held by Tracy's Comedy Club. Andrew and Marc Unger took over club management a month ago while Tracy's was still in operation.

Andrew Unger got the idea to take over after talking with his brother, who performed there.

"My brother, Marc, told me that a lot of the seats were empty," he says. "Then the ownership of the Bowman Restaurant said that Tracy's could be much better. There was no reason that the place shouldn't be full for every show."

Andrew Unger said Tracy's, which has been in operation as a comedy and nightclub for more than 20 years, had some definite potential. With the help of his colleagues, he made a variety of changes to the club's appearance, promotions and service.

"Tracy's looked a lot like a banquet room," Unger said. "We wanted to ... give the place a more upscale feel."

To do this, he commissioned Katie Meredith, a local artist, to create paintings for the club and to design the backdrop for the comedians. "With the new art and stage backdrop, we've created a better ambience and transformed the space into a true comedy club," Andrew Unger said.

He also increased the number of shows per weekend to five. He said the club also might start a show Thursdays to "reach out to local comedians by offering open-mike nights."

In keeping with the club's upscale feel, he hired a new staff, relying on comedy club management veterans Steve Diffenderfer and Bernie Huddleston to do the training.

"We want our staff to do certain things different in the club while the show is going on," Andrew Unger said. "In other comedy clubs, you're treated like cattle. Here, you will be treated better. We want our guests to feel like they had a special night out."

Catch 98 Rock's Mickey Cucchiella at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday at the grand opening of Magooby's Joke House, 9306 Harford Road. Tickets are $17. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 410-356-1010 or go to

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