- 310 S. Troy, Royal Oak, MI, 48067
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Status: The state of Michigan’s economy may be in question, but there’s no recession in sight for Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak.
“Comedy seems to thrive when things are hard,” says Mark Ridley who opened the chuckle club in 1979. “We’re a very affordable escape for about an hour and a half. People need to take that cheap getaway in their head.”
Before settling in its home in downtown Royal Oak, the Comedy Castle bounced around to about seven locations, including its first 90-seat location in Orchard Lake, and Berkley, where the club remained until moving to its 400-seat Royal Oak location in 1989.
The 18-and-up club is open Wednesday though Saturday. Cover varies depending on the day and show, but usually ranges from $3 on an open mike night to $18 on the weekend.
Email subscribers get freebees and discounts throughout the year. “We do tend to reward our devoted customers,” Ridley says.
Gear: Anything goes here, but keep in mind that the clothing you wear can and may be used against you in stand-up comedy routines.
Mood: Covergirl may have coined the easy, breezy phrase, but the Comedy Castle epitomizes it with witty, entertaining acts and a laidback, yet prompt, wait staff.
This was the first time 24-year-olds Amy Carroll and Almir Mujkic of Auburn Hills and Macomb had been to the Royal Oak jesting joint. After seeing Dave Attell perform on March 12, the couple went straight to the calendar to look up other shows to attend.
“Weekly, it’s been amazing,” Ridley says of the club's popularity. “It just seems like business is going up because people need that escape from what’s going on around them.”
Rows upon rows of black and white photos and old, framed newspapers document the club’s history and past headliners while providing embellishment for the cinder block walls.
Pick me up: Grab a bite and drink before or after a show in the low-key bar area which is reminiscent of a school cafeteria with its square-tile floor and white cinder block walls. Servers bring drinks and movie theater snacks like popcorn, pretzels, nachos and pizza slices to your table during the show.
Entertainment: Shows are held Thursdays at 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. (non smoking on Fridays). Open mic nights on Wednesdays feature up to 15 local up-and-coming comics.
The second annual Detroit International Comedy Festival began this week and ends today with metro Detroit comics in the Best of Detroit show.
Ryan Hamilton (Last Comic Standing and “Live at Gotham” on Comedy Central) takes the stage this weekend.
Past acts include Tim Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, Jim Carrey, Drew Carey, Garry Shandling, Bobcat Goldthwait and Jay Leno.