Somerville Will Get a Designated Comedy Theater

union comedy

Union Comedy is slated to open in the new Bow Market complex in Union Square.

There’s a burgeoning comedy scene in Greater Boston. Here in Somerville, you can pretty regularly catch standup sets at the Rockwell or the Burren. In Cambridge, of course, there’s ImprovBoston, and the Comedy Studio (though after 20 years, that legendary space is looking for a new home following rent increases). Boston has Improv Asylum, and there are open mics around town just about every night of the week.

There’s just one problem: “The improv community has sort of grown beyond what ImprovBoston can manage,” says Somerville’s Ben Gibb. He’s one of a group of six local comedians—a collection of performers, directors and producers who know one another through the ImprovBoston community—who will open Union Comedy in 2018.

Gibb and his collaborators love ImprovBoston, but they envision Union Comedy as a sort of theater that doesn’t exist in Boston yet. He says that here, improv is largely “Chicago-style,” with a more polished sketch and improv sensibility. In New York and L.A., he explains, groups like Upright Citizens Brigade are doing more long-form improv—a style with fewer games that’s a little less Who’s Line and a little more narrative-based, with greater emphasis on character.

“We saw an opportunity,” Gibb notes. “There’s an independent community that does this sort of improv but doesn’t have a home to do it in yet. We’re trying to build that home.”

It’s a little more of a modern take, and one that will likely appeal to a slightly younger demographic.

Union Comedy will be located inside Bow Market, the new complex that’s bringing more than 30 small retailers (and a brand-new brewery!) to a former storage building between Bow Street and Somerville Avenue. The hope is that the theater will have around 100 seats—or slightly more—and will offer programming seven nights a week, whether that’s performances or classes or workshops.

If all goes according to plan, the theater could open in early 2018, ideally February or March.

And Gibb says the Union Comedy crew is still very invested in the ImprovBoston community, who have been incredibly supportive of their plans for a new space.

“Our philosophy is that we’re trying to be additive to the comedy scene that already exists in Boston,” Gibb says. “We want to have a place where people can come and spend $10 and get a beer and see a really funny show.”

Union Comedy will launch a website and blog within the next few weeks. Until then, get up-to-date info on the theater by signing up for the distribution list here.

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