The chain of Helium Comedy Clubs releases giggle gas from famed headliners and tomorrow's brightest stars at its Philadelphia, Portland, and Buffalo locations. In front of a tabled showroom that allows audiences a clear sightline and maximizes guffaw acoustics, a bustling calendar of familiar comic talent fills most of the week with levity, and open mic nights and standup workshops put aspiring jokesmiths higher up the comedy rung. Although the club holds guests to a two-item minimum, the menu inspires curiosity regarding maximum orders, with tempting savories such as shrimp cocktail, pulled-pork sliders, avocado and chicken paninis, and spicy potato bites with ranch dressing.
Like the philosophy-based salons and cafes of 19th-century Europe, Funhouse Lounge is a place where locals can revel in local art and entertainment over drinks. On many nights, the stage plays host to local acts showing off skills at karaoke, open-mic comedy, and music. Saturday evenings also welcome local improv groups that take the stage with off-the-cuff comedy scenes. While watching neighbors and friends show off their talents, guests split eccentric appetizers such as Irish nachos made from potato chips, cheese sauce, and sour cream or the Ho Ho trifle. The drink menu is equally as whimsical, with bartenders mixing up carnival-themed drinks such as the Bumper Car with Southern Comfort, amaretto, and sloe gin. The Midway Mojito boasts fresh-squeezed lime and a very slim chance of going home with an oversized stuffed tiger.
Extending from a handsome red-brick wall, the hardwood bar of Harvey's Comedy Club shimmers under the glow of hanging lamps and backlit stained-glass windows. There, guests can grab a drink, then nestle into a nearby booth to dig into the tasty menu of pub grub, or head to the show-room floor to hear the antics of nationally touring standups. Guests can also visit the Hoyt Dining Room for a package including a meal, validated parking, and admission to a show.
Beloved boy bands New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys rev the engines of adoration among droves of fans with their poptastic summer tour. New Kids on the Block has been plucking heartstrings and handcrafting harmonies since 1986, combining a collection of international hits such as "Hangin' Tough" and "Step by Step" with five-part choreography and fashionable duds. Following in their footsteps, the Backstreet Boys began blowing up charts in the '90s, producing a songbook replete with favorites such as "I Want It That Way," "All I Have to Give," and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." The NKOTBSB Tour brings both acts together for a songful extravaganza, forming the more perfect union prophesied nearly 50 years ago by the Constitution. The May 25 concert also includes the vocal virtuosity of special guest and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, adding to an ear-pleasing stew of dulcet melodies sure to soothe the most savage beast or most irascible mail carrier.
At Northern Lights Theatre Pub, audience members sip riesling and sink forks into chicken breasts as movie families sit down to dinner on the silver screen. Cinema-goers order their meals before sitting down to watch second-run flicks, letting waiters ferry their pulled-pork burritos or Angus burgers right to their seats so they don’t miss a screen couple’s passionate first kiss, tender final embrace, or heartwarming jump from an exploding helicopter. In addition to finger foods, the chefs take their fare up a notch by layering personal pizzas with housemade sauce, sprinkling parmesan cheese and squeezing lemon juice over chicken breasts, and piling pineapple atop their banana splits. Before evening films light up the theaters, Northern Lights’ full-service bar kicks into gear, leading to age restrictions so that moviegoers can freely sip on-tap beers such as Blue Moon and Gilgamesh Mamba or wash down bites with chardonnay and shiraz. In addition to screening blockbuster movies, the theater pub’s three auditoriums occasionally show sports or host live shows such as standup comedy.