When the Arizona Republic posted a story on April 1 about CityScape's adding a giant comedy club, I sorta figured it was an April Fools Day prank. Nope.
Stand Up Live, a 17,000-square-foot space with 600 seats, will be located next to Lucky Strike Bowling on the second level of the project's western-most block, between Central and First Avenue.
"Our defining feature will be excellence," says owner Dan Mer. "From the time you pick up the phone to make a reservation to the time you leave, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And that applies to everyone -- the guests and the comics. "
Once in a lifetime? I'm pretty sure it'd be a better idea to make this more of a once-a-month experience for comedy fans. From a strictly business perspective, that is. The Disneyland model isn't always the best one for local clubs.
As a national comedy blog has pointed out, this is an ambitious project. Not only is this Phoenix club taking dead aim at Tempe's Improv, of which Mer was formerly a minority owner, it would be one of the largest comedy clubs in the country.
Can Mer do it? I have no idea.
A press release touts his expertise.
"Mer, who many credit as the man who established the Valley as a premier national comedic tour destination with his Tempe 'Improv,' has a strong track record in the comedy club industry. Mer's resume includes producing numerous HBO, Comedy Central and NBC network specials, and he has the reputation for bringing top-notch talent -- like John Stewart, Adam Sandler, and Dana Carvey -- to local clubs. Mer was also the first to bring such acts as Frank Caliendo, David Spade, and Jerry Seinfeld in concert to local venues."
This prompted some bozo at the Republic to call the Improv and ask whether it was closing. This drew a predictably terse response.
"The Improv will continue," said Susan Desislets, noting the Valley institution has been around for more than two decades. Mer was a minor owner, she added.
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CityScape is a divisive topic, having been bashed by bloggers who criticize it for being a pathetic attempt to suburbanize downtown Phoenix. It's also been buoyed by an assload of tax dollars.
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Personally, I see it as being a lot like a newer Arizona Center. Which is, um, a good place to take high school students to Hooters, if not to shop for useful goods and services.
The real gag here may be the predicted opening date. They claim they'll be making us laugh beginning in September.
Actually, that's probably true either way.