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Sunday, Feb. 25
The Indiana Daily Student

Comedy Caravan celebrates 25 years

One of the biggest shows in comedy is celebrating 25 years in Bloomington. Jan. 21 was the silver anniversary of Comedy Caravan's two shows a night every Monday at Bear's Place. \nComedy Caravan commemorated its anniversary at Bear's Place with Etta May, winner of ABC's American Comedy Award for best nightclub comidienne, as the headlining act Jan. 21. Big John Richardson was the opening act.\nThe celebration continues this Saturday with Tim Cavanagh, "the one-minute song guy" who has made many appearances on local radio station WFBQ, a.k.a., Q95. The shows at Bear's Place with Comedy Caravan have made the venue "One of 10 great places to sit down and watch stand up," and "Best one-nighter in comedy," according to USA Today. \nOf the top 10 comedy clubs on USA Today's list, Bear's Place is the only one that functions as a one-night-a-week comedy club, while the others operate full-time. \n"We have the finest nightclub comedians -- the same comedians you would find in Chicago, Detroit or Dallas," Comedy Caravan President Tom Sobel said.\nComedy Caravan has been bringing comedians to Bloomington since 1983. Comedians such as Ellen DeGeneres, Tim Allen and Sinbad have performed at Bear's over the 25-year span of Bear's and Comedy Caravan's partnership. \nSobel has noticed many changes in the comedy business during his 25 years with Bear's Place.\n"Comedy was a lot bigger in the mid-'80s and '90s," said Sobel, who has been the president of Comedy Caravan for 32 years. "Things like 9/11 have been a distraction for some."\nSobel also said that at one time there were more than 500 full-time comedy clubs in America. Now there are only around 200. Despite the changes over time, Sobel said that Bear's Place is the longest running one-night-a-week comedy show in America.\nSobel said one of the reasons Bear's Place has had successful comedy acts for 25 years is that the room has a good layout for comedy.\n"Even though it's a small room, everyone has a perfect view," he said. "There's just no distractions."\nHe also cited the quality of the comedy at Bear's as a reason for its success. \n"They have had first-class talent there from day one." \nMore than 200,000 people have bought tickets to the Monday-night comedy shows at Bear's Place, Sobel said.\n"This is Bloomington's biggest bargain, with tickets only $5, except special events," Sobel said. "In Louisville, it's $17 to hear Etta May give the same performance."\nWhile those in attendance are usually a mix of young and old, Sobel has noticed a recent trend at the shows.\n"The early show in recent years has tended to draw mainly townies, people with a serious interest in comedy," he said. "But the late show is still the thing to do in Bloomington on Monday night."\nSomeone who has never seen a live comedy show may not think it would be an interesting experience, but Sobel begs to differ.\n"Until they experience comedy in a club, they don't know what it's all about"

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