Which is where Kudva's neighbor, Greg Baumhauer, enters the story. Baumhauer's an aspiring comedian who wants to "make this scene happen" for himself and jokester friends -- and part of that is finding places to perform. He'd like to create an open-mike night where standup comics can try out their material on smaller audiences rather than, say, the 200 people who often pack the Comedy Works. Such a spot would be "good training" for both up-and-comers and seasoned veterans, he says, "like comedy boot camp."
Baumhauer pitched the plan to Kudva, who liked it and decided to hold a weekly open-mike night at the Squire. Fortunately, such an event doesn't require a cabaret license (go figure). So until bands can finally take the stage, Baumhauer invites anyone "serious about" comedy -- performing or watching it -- to head over to the Squire at 10 p.m. Tuesdays for free late-night laughs.
Grumpy's Coffee Cup Theatre, which opened at 1550 Elmira Street in March, is really more of a "listening room" than a theater -- but it does have coffee, and there's definitely a "Grumpy." The venue is owned by a non-profit corporation headed by Gordon Strother, aka Grumpy, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes him seem anything but. "One of the things I'm pushing heavily here is diversity," says Grumpy, who left his job at AT&T because he felt the need to be "doing something for somebody."
What he wants to do is bring people together through "developmental theater," offering mentoring programs with the help of supporters experienced in the arts who will supplement Grumpy's own knowledge gained during the years he spent as a musician and sound engineer. The space has scheduled an ambitious lineup of plays, acting workshops, spoken-word Wednesdays, open-drumming Thursdays and live-music bookings (Strother's son's band, Stitch, has performed in the past), and although seating is limited, there's plenty of parking, and the place has "excellent acoustics," promises Grumpy. "Anybody who has sincerity about art has a place here."
Just don't ask about the other six dwarfs!