Jesse Joyce Packs the House at the Grand Opening of Wolfie’s Comedy Upstairs at Mullen’s
Stand-up comedy in Pittsburgh has always done well, if you’re an established act. If you’re an up-and-coming comedian, or just someone who likes to check out the new faces on the scene, times lately have been a little more rough here in the Steel City. The Improv on the Waterfront, while it does book some great comics, operates as what some comedians have described to me as an old boy’s club – you have to be in their inner circle to perform there. The Funny Bone at Station Square inexplicably closed last year, supposedly to move to Greentree, but what came of that cannot be found. There are other places for comedy in Pittsburgh – Southside’s Rex Theatre and Mr. Smalls in Millvale will sometimes have comedy shows, but those are concert venues, not comedy clubs. Not all hope is lost, however. Comics on the rise and those who enjoy seeing them in small, intimate clubs have a new home in Pittsburgh – Wolfie’s Comedy Upstairs at Mullen’s on the North Shore, across from PNC Park. Upstairs at Mullen’s just had its grand opening this last weekend with a full slate of great comics, including headliner Jesse Joyce.
Mullen’s is a sports bar, no doubt about it. It has a superficial Irish theme, but the place is pure Pittsburgh. Comedy in a sports bar might seem slightly out of place, until you meet the owner – Bubba from Star 100.7. If the owner of the place is a successful morning drive DJ, then converting at least part of the bar in to a comedy club makes a lot more sense. Bubba teamed up with Matt Wohlfarth and Bud Adams, the guys behind Wolfie’s Comedy, one of the premier comedy producing companies in the region to make Upstairs at Mullen’s a reality.
They transformed the upstairs bar and party room into a real comedy club. The bar is accessible along the left side; the stage is flanked by the picture windows overlooking PNC Park; there are tables right up front and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. There is seating capacity for about 120, but with this being the grand opening, it was standing room only for about 250 patrons. Luckily, not one of them was a fire marshal who might have taken an issue with the overcrowded room.
Welcoming everyone to the grand opening of Wolfie’s Comedy Upstairs at Mullen’s, Matt Wohlfarth warmed up the crowd. Wohlfarth is a comedian with over 20 years experience, and he demonstrated that in his short opening set. He started off clean, and then skillfully eased the crowd into profanity, setting the tone for the other comics. If you have the chance, go see Matt perform live. It’s worth it, the guy’s a riot.
Matt introduced Bubba, the host for the evening as well as the owner of the bar. Bubba is naturally a funny guy. Being a morning show DJ, he has to be. He swore up and down that this was only his second time ever doing stand-up, but he has the stage presence of a seasoned veteran. Bubba worked in some very clever call backs, providing a solid cohesion to his set. The pantomimes he has incorporated into his act were superbly done, providing a great visual for his material which he can’t normally do when he is on the radio.
Up next on the stage was another radio personality, DVE’s Sean Collier. Sean does movie reviews for the DVE Morning Show and writes for Pittsburgh Magazine. Many Pittsburghers are familiar with Sean’s sense of humor having heard him on DVE, but nothing will prepare you for how absolutely funny he can be uncensored. Sean Collier truly is a great comedian. His delivery is intelligent, low key and subversively sly. He definitely could put out a comedy album; it would sell, and not just in Pittsburgh.
Tim Dimond (pronounced “diamond”) was the next comic to take the mic. He doesn’t have a household name, but after catching his set, it is shocking as to why he doesn’t. Tim is the reason to go to small comedy clubs; he’s the next star rising. He isn’t famous – yet. He will be. He has the perfect mix of high brow and toilet humor, with just the right amount of self-deprecation. Keep your eyes and ears out for Tim Dimond.
Jesse Joyce was the headliner, and he did not disappoint. His off-stage persona is the same as when he is doing his act: he’s hyperactive, motor-mouthed, and has a wit as sharp as it is fast. Jesse was on fire playing to his hometown crowd, mixing some of his classic bits in with new material. A couple of the jokes could have been awkward if done by a lesser comic with his parents in the crowd, but Jesse played it masterfully with his dad sitting only ten feet away.
All in all, the grand opening of Wolfie’s Comedy Upstairs at Mullen’s was a huge success. If the caliber of acts booked can be maintained, with both big name headliners and new, promising up-and-comers, there is no reason why this club can’t become the dominant comedy venue in Pittsburgh. It is ideally located on the North Side, across the Clemente Bridge from downtown, making it the easiest venue to access from all of the greater Pittsburgh area.
|Wayne Weill||Lifelong metalhead and the man of many voices, Wayne is diverse in his knowledge and interests. He is notorious for his comedic timing and voice acting talents.
Wayne Weil, Assistant General Manager of WPPJ