Friday venue at Chain bar
By James Card
The community has a new venue for comedy every third Friday of the month at the Chain O’ Lakes Bar & Grill.
The bar sponsors the show and there are no tickets. It is free and open to the public.
“The Good Time Comedy Show” is the brainchild of local comedian Ben Warren and he is the host.
“My goal is to make people laugh. I’d like for it to be positive for me as a comedian and the comedians I book. I want people who are funny and are going to make you laugh so hard your face hurts. Laughetr is important,” said Warren.
The show starts at 8 p.m. and runs 90 minutes. Warren will open the show with new material and warm up the crowd. He will then introduce nationally touring headline and feature comedians.
Some of his lined-up guests have appeared on Comedy Central and other notable venues. The featured comedian will do a 20-minute set and the headline comedian will do a 45-minute set to close out the show.
Warren said the Chain O’ Lakes Bar & Grill has been supportive. They upgraded their speakers and installed some spotlights. The stage will be located at the far end of the building in the dining area.
They set-up a backdrop, clear out tables and arrange seating for about 50 people and more seats are further back towards the bar.
In the summer, they are considering holding it the beach house.
Portland to Waupaca
While living in Boise, Idaho, Warrens entered a comedy competition and took third place. Later they moved to Portland and Warrens cut his teeth in the open-mike circuit.
“You could hit three or four open mikes every night of the week and there are two to three paid shows every night so you could work 25 days a month without leaving town,” said Warrens.
He is a former ski patroller and river guide. Some of his comedy routine was about those experiences such as lobbing explosives onto snow sheets to trigger avalanches.
Later, he became a father of three children and his comedy covers “dad stuff.”
Starting out on open mikes was a lot of trial and error, a lot of bombing and jokes falling flat. He said the worse thing was listening to it all again. He recorded his routine to see what worked and what didn’t. His worst bomb was entering a dirty comic competition.
“I realized I was just a sheltered kid. I thought I had dirty jokes but people didn’t find it funny at all,” he said.
Covid came along and that shut down the comedy scene. They had mixed feelings about living in Portland and they looked all over America for a place to relocate. They picked Waupaca.
His wife is a physician who practices rural family medicine with ThedaCare.
“We looked everywhere, from Nome, Alaska to New Zealand. We liked the green space, the state parks and the lakes and it looked like the community put a lot of investment into their kids and those are things we put value in,” said Warren.
With family obligations, Warren performs shows within a day’s drive of Waupaca and goes to clubs in Chicago, northern Illinois, the Upper Peninsula and Minneapolis. He’s also performed shows in collaboration with the Waupaca Arts Board.
“When you tell a joke and 500 people laugh, that energy is so charging and amazing and it’s equally the opposite when you tell a joke and 500 people sit there in silence. Grinding those open mikes steels your will and hardens you to that silence,” said Warren.