It's a laughing matter at Magooby's Joke House

The Baltimore Sun

Magooby's Joke House is a silly name for a comedy club.

But if you're looking for a spot for consistently clever and funny comedians, you should seriously consider this Carney venue.

Andrew Unger and his brother Marc opened Magooby's - a mash-up of Andrew Unger's sons' nicknames - last September in the spot where Tracy's at the Bowman used to be. Most of the shows cost $12, which is a good price for nearly 90 minutes of standup.

"We're getting a really good response," Andrew Unger said. "We have at least tripled the numbers [Tracy's] was getting."

When we went last Saturday, the parking lot outside Magooby's and the adjacent Bowman Restaurant was packed. We ended up snagging a spot in the CVS lot across Harford Road.

It's a good idea to get to Magooby's 15 to 20 minutes before the show is supposed to start. Last weekend, the room started filling up early, and most of the tables were taken by the time the MC took the stage.

A banner behind the stage was emblazoned with colorful overlapping squares and snippets from generic jokes. Take away the text and the backdrop's pattern looked like a sweater Uncle Phil would wear on an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

In fact, the rest of the decor and many of the patrons at Magooby's looked like they hadn't changed much since the mid-'90s. Light jeans, sweaters and poofy hair abounded. The chairs were metal with vinyl cushions, similar to what you'd see in a VFW hall, but comfortable enough.

The MC on Saturday night was Tiffany Bridge, a local comedian who came in second place in an open-mike contest at Magooby's. She kicked things off with a short, fairly funny set. She looked nervous, and her delivery was fast and wordy. But she had people laughing a few times in her routine.

Next up was featured performer David Kaye, who had the crowd rolling in minutes. The headliner was John Knight, who told some hilarious jokes with a sharp, nasal delivery. Some of the starts of his bits were ear-piercing until the PA system was turned down some. But both Kaye and Knight had some audience members in tears from laughing so much.

Like most comedy clubs, Magooby's has a two-drink minimum. We ordered two Yuenglings and two Miller Lites, and the bill came to $19.

Magooby's is not lacking for service. Our server stopped by a couple times during each comic's set to check up on us. If anything, the service was a little too sharp - when she dropped off my second beer, she snapped up the first one even though it still had a few swigs left in it. But on the whole, I'd much rather have an overly attentive server than a neglectful one.

It was a little surprising how smoothly the show went. Hecklers can be a big nuisance at small clubs like Magooby's, but I didn't notice any last weekend.

"The show comes first," Andrew Unger said. "We certainly don't put up with people heckling and getting out of control."

The entire show lasted about an hour and a half. After the comedians finished their sets, they had patrons fill out comment forms and put them in a basket Unger brought around. Then Unger drew one form randomly from the basket and gave the winning crowd member a discount on her drinks.

They also handed out two-for-one passes for another show at the club. Both the drawing and the two-for- one pass are good ways to keep people coming back, and a club like Magooby's needs a committed crowd to stay in business.

If the Ungers continue to bring in funny, talented comics like Knight and Kaye and pair that reliability with the same kind of competent service as we had, staying in business won't be a problem.

Magooby's Joke House is at 9306 Harford Road in Carney. Steve Hofstetter is this week's headliner. Tickets are $12. Showtimes are 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday. Call 410-356-1010 or go to magoobys.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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