Laughter bubbles up from a crowded floor, echoing back to a rear balcony while bouncing off sports-bar accouterments: neon beer signs, flags for Notre Dame or Indiana. It could be normal weekend night at any watering hole—except everyone is facing the same direction, their attention locked on the stage. And that's a normal night at the Laugh Comedy Club, where nationally touring standups ply their jokes until people who weren't even drinking milk squirt milk out their nose. Nearby a full bar keeps glasses filled with tasty potations and a kitchen turns out a menu of pub fare.
Laugh Out Loud hosts well-established laugh conjurers and undiscovered comedic masterminds capable of leaving the audience doubled over in harmonized chuckles. Past Laugh Out Loud audience-slayers have graced the stages of HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central, and upcoming performers include musical comedian Ron Feingold, who produces a cappella backup, lead, and percussive vocals with his three separate mouths (July 28–30). Lyndel Pleasant, a former stagemate of Chris Rock, weaves anecdotes of marriage and fatherhood into his act (August 4–6), and Ward Anderson, author of The Ultimate Bachelor’s Guide, tackles audiences with his physical comedy (August 11–13). All shows last approximately two hours and showcase three comedians or one mythical hydra that wants to know what the deal is with airplane peanuts.
“The South Bend area has needed an upscale, high energy comedy club for a long time,” says James Witty and Derek Davis, the business partners who ended South Bend’s comedy drought by opening The Drop Comedy Club in November 2012. The bustling venue keeps its calendar packed with visits from headlining comedians who have appeared on major networks such as NBC and Comedy Central. It also directs the spotlight toward up-and-comers ascending the comedy ranks, as well as a stable of house comics on call for all funny-bone emergencies. The club also sports a restaurant and a full bar that cater to social mingling, romantic dinners, or diners who want to stifle heckles from growling stomachs.
Dubbing the theater “The Palace” when it opened in 1921, Chicago architect J.S. Aroner strove to capture a regal ambiance with a patchwork of diverse, though uniformly opulent, building styles. Patrons today can spot baroque, Greco-Roman, and even art-deco designs as they drift through the restored rose, blue, and cream entryway. But in 1959, The Palace was crumbling, and it seemed that future generations would miss out on this aesthetic experience. A concerned citizen by the name of Mrs. Ella Morris swooped in, though, purchasing the building for an undisclosed sum and then selling it back to the city for $1, which she promptly blew on gumballs. Newly named, the theater welcomed such acts as Louis Armstrong, REO Speedwagon, and Fleetwood Mac in the ensuing decades until a major, two-year overhaul began in 1998. Now restored to its original condition, the venue hosts standup acts, Broadway musicals, big-name concert performances, and fully produced ballets.