Zach Galifianakis in a surprise appearance at Comedy Monday Night on August 19, 2013.
Photograph by James Moore
Emblazed with a bright spotlight at the back of the stage is a sign that reads “Comedy Monday Night.” As comic after comic steps up to share the platform with the signature red-lipped chair at Broken City, there’s hardly a minute that goes by without the room erupting with laughter. Comedians spit out some of the most poignant one-liners, self-deprecating anecdotes or absolutely obscene images for two hours straight – and the crowd loves it.
It’s the regular scene at Comedy Monday Night at Broken City, which is now Western Canada’s longest running open mic comedy show.
It wasn’t very long ago that Calgary didn’t have an open mic comedy show to speak of, forcing comics to leave the city to try to get a start elsewhere. So, hoping to give the amateur comedians of Calgary a chance, James Moore decided to dedicate his Monday nights to comedy in 2005, and hasn’t quit since.
“It’s been running every single week for almost 10 years,” says Moore. “I have no idea what’s on TV on Monday night. A whole decade of Monday night TV is lost.”
But it looks like it was lost to a good cause. After starting up Comedy Monday Night at Dickens Pub and making a pit-stop at Lord Nelson’s Bar & Grill, the show finally found a home at Broken City five years ago, and Moore says they’ve never looked back.
“Broken City is like the perfect storm for comedy,” Moore continues. “The stage and the audience are really close together, so you feel like you’re a part of the show … Moving there was definitely a turning point for us.”
Since making the move, BBC Radio 1 and SiriusXM Satellite Radio have stopped in to record and broadcast the show both coast-to-coast and internationally. The stage has also seen the likes of surprise guests like Bob Odenkirk from Breaking Bad and Zach Galifianakis, who walked on stage part way through the show and surprised everyone in the room, even Moore.
“A lot of these big acts are seeking us out now,” he says. “We’re developing a kind of reputation where a lot of top-shelf comedians that are just showing up. I don’t even know how they’re finding out about us.”
With the mantra “Where anything can happen, five minute at a time,” the two-hour show kicks off at 8 p.m. and rolls through a series of short sets from local comedians, first timers and international touring comics, then it always ends with a hand-picked headliner.
The next show, on June 23, will be bringing in Richard Lett, who has been called “Canada’s George Carlin.” For a $5 charge at the door you can check out the show, and you never know who else will end up on the stage a few feet away from you. Plus, highballs are on special for $4.25, and you can’t really go wrong with that on a Monday night (well, that’s a lie, but a comforting lie none-the-less).