Mugsy’s deems itself hot spot for Wednesday nights

By Gus Bode

So it’s a given. The romantic “hot spots” in Carbondale are out-dated, and this city is long overdue for a change in romantic scenery.

One can only take so much butter-soaked popcorn and watered down cokes at Karasotes or those endless pits of ‘chips and salsa’ appetizers over pathetically mind-numbing small talk at Garfield’s.

Well, now Carbondale has what it’s always needed-a fantastic comedy show. Every Wednesday night at Mugsy’s Entertainment Center comedians show off their comedic flair from 8 pm until approximately 10:30 pm. Doors open at 7 pm and drink specials include $1 domestic bottles.

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The atmosphere is next to perfect. For those who have yet to see Mugsy’s new entertainment room, a large rectangular black room with funky neon carpet, dim lights, and bright, fluorescent stage lights sets the scene for some of the funniest people to hit Carbondale.

18-year comedian, Mike Veneman, works for an agency called the Funny Business who books shows and tours for their comedians, usually booking them for 15 weeks of work-some week long segments and some one-nighters like at Mugsy’s.

“I travel 40 weeks out of the year and have 54 national TV appearances,” Veneman said. This is Veneman’s first time in Carbondale. The audience seemed to like him as much as he enjoyed performing for them.

“They were good. One-nighters can go [either way],” Veneman said. “They can be great or they can be hell and this was a really good audience. They hung in there well and were polite, and the sound system was great outward.”

J.T. Thomas is the host of Comedy Night and introduces usually four or five comedians a night. Also, the audience fills out a raffle upon entering the club for a chance to win a prize. On Jan. 29th, the prize was a $100 gift certificate to Solar Tan.

Chidi Okonmah, a junior in Speech Communications at SIU, performed for his first time on Wednesday, Jan. 29th. Okonmah said his friend Hannibal Buress, who also performed that night and has every Wednesday this semester, helped him get started with it.

“He bullied me in,” Okonmah said. “But I love him for it.” Some people may remember Okonmah from the Student Programming Council’s (SPC) comedy events in the Big Muddy Room.

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“We’ve done shows at the Majestic on the Southside of Chicago,” Okonmah said. “And I opened up for Mike Bonner when he came down.”

Just because these talented performers look calm doesn’t mean they necessarily are. Okonmah said he was very nervous.

“I remember what my teacher said and just pictured everybody naked,” Okonmah laughed.

Buress, a sophomore in Radio-Television at SIU, performed for his third time at Mugsy’s on Jan. 29th.

“I’ve been to a lot of open mics in Chicago,” Buress said. “I’ve done a couple shows in Peoria and Champaign; anywhere they’ll let me perform. Wherever there’s a mic and some people, I’ll perform.”

Buress opened up for the BET Comedians at the Horizon Inn, but said the turnout was less than he expected. However, Buress said Mugsy’s has done a great job promoting for Comedy Night.

“They had this going on last semester, but it wasn’t as packed as it is now,” he said.

Buress said the crowd at Mugsy’s was good because they were mostly college students; people he can relate to.

“I get a pretty good response in Chicago, but it’s easier to get the crowd going for the fact that I’m a student. I can talk about stuff they can relate to.”

Each week, Buress says he likes to bring new material to the show since the repetition of audience members tends to occur.

“I like to bring something new in,” he said. “Even though it won’t be the exact same audience, I don’t want to feel like I am saying the exact same stuff.”

Comedy Night is something fun to do to cease the mid-week blues and it only costs $5 to enter. It’s worth the two hours of artistic wit; and once again, it makes for a great night out with that certain someone.

But remember, even if the date sucks, at least it will be masked by stomach crunchin’ laughter from an assortment of exceptional comedians!

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