January 25, 2011 Arts » Cover story

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The Comedy Zone returns to Charlotte 

Once upon a time, when you wanted to laugh in Charlotte, there was a zone for that — The Comedy Zone to be exact. But three years ago — as a result of rising rents — our town's iconic comedy club left the city limits.

But hang on to your chuckles: The Comedy Zone is coming back.

"The thing about the Zone is, we need a place that has some soul and some heart, some creativity and some culture," says Brian Heffron, owner of the returning comedy destination, which will be located at the N.C. Music Factory. "What you're going to see here is an extension of the Factory as a whole."

According to Heffron, the new club will feature bowl seating and room for 400 people — making it one of the nation's larger comedy clubs. And when it comes to attracting top talent, size matters. Not only that, but with the bowl seating, the comics on stage will be able to have a more intimate relationship with the audience. (In other words, you don't have to be on the front row to get picked on.) The layout of the new Zone, says Heffron, comes from listening to what customers and comics want in a club and copying what works in other cities.

"This club design is different than anything that I've done in the past," he says. "It's going to be one of the best clubs in the country, and it's going to put Charlotte on the map in terms of comedy."

In addition to the different look, the new Zone will also serve upgraded vittles. "Way more than anything we've ever had or ever tried to do," he says. "Now we can get you really great food with the show."

Something else the new Comedy Zone will offer is time for hometown funny people to shine. "We're going to have plenty of space for the local talent, with improv, sketch."

Because the Comedy Zone will be located in a spot that offers different types of entertainment options, Heffron says many of the shows will be themed. For example, during Halloween when the Music Factory erects its haunted house, the Comedy Zone will host comics and events that can draw in a macabre-loving crowd as well. Currently, Heffron is in talks with top talent like Steve-O, Martin Lawrence and Ralphie May to do some shows.

"Comedy in Charlotte has been strong for many years," he says. "It has a strong local group, and we've produced a lot of national touring headliners. I have no doubt that this club will be as successful or more than our past clubs in Charlotte."

The Comedy Zone is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-April or mid-May.

The Comedy Issue:

The joy and pain of comedian Oletha Cuevas

The past, present and future of Robot Johnson

The Comedy Zone returns to Charlotte

Improv Charlotte: On a mission to do good

All jokes aside(bar)

Upcoming comedy events

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