No Joke … Comedy Club Opens in South KC

By Brad Lucht

“We did it!”

That was the jubilant exclamation of Kansas City native and professional comedian Dustin Kaufman at his club’s opening night last week.  Colin Kane was in the process of finishing his set, to a near continuous response of laughter from the audience. Earlier that afternoon, bathroom fixtures were still being installed.

For the first time in decades, comedy has returned to south Kansas City at the Watt’s Mill Plaza.  Not politicians, mind you, but real comedians.


Comedian Dustin Kaufman opened the Comedy Club of Kansas City on April 12. Photo by Kathy Feist

A Background in Comedy

As a young comic Kaufman started at Stanford’s in Westport in 2000, drinking for free before he was old enough to drink. He would do anything just to be there, including seating the room, filling in at the kitchen, helping with promotional mailings.  

As Kaufman honed his act, he began traveling the comedy circuit, eventually relocating to Los Angeles in 2010.  Kaufman ended up with a job at Flappers Comedy Club, working in their marketing department, being paid in stage time.  Needing more money, he began working in their audio/video department and the kitchen at a sister club. Since stepping on the  comedy stage he’s always been involved in every aspect of the industry.

Local Focus

Kaufman’s focus will be on local comedians.  He estimates there at least 100 aspiring comics in the Kansas City area, with perhaps 50 good ones.  He wants to find the five that can be great, and then focus on them for the next five years.

“We need to help rebuild the next class of comedians to come out of Kansas City.  It’s our job to make sure that happens again. That’s the future of our club,” he says.

Favorites

Kaufman hopes to someday book his favorite comedians, including Emo Philips, Marsha Warfield, Eric Griffin, Jeremiah Watkins (a Kansas City native). “Watkin’s is like a modern day Jim Carrey with an edge and a little bit more intelligent humor.  He is so, so funny,” says Kaufman.

Kaufman hopes to attract a wide audience. “Anybody that likes to laugh,” he says. “We are bringing the white comics, the black comics.  We’re also bringing in a lot of the female comics, and middle eastern and gay.”

The Comedy Club occupies the space that was once Waid’s and the Watt’s Mill Theater. Photo courtesy KC Comedy Club.

Why South KC?

Kaufman selected south Kansas City for several reasons. He remembers when Slapsticks was at the current Enterprise location in the shopping strip.

The space the comedy club inhabits now was once Waid’s, and before that, Watt’s Mill Theater.

“This space, where we’re sitting in, has been a part of my entire life in Kansas City.  I saw “Bambi” here as a kid with my grandma. I ate cheese soup here when it was Waid’s with my grandma.  I know if she were alive today and here with us she would be as excited as I am to be sitting in here,” he says.  

He also liked the location.

“It is a block off the highway, maybe 10 minutes from Waldo, 10 minutes from Lee’s Summit, 20 minutes from Independence, 25 minutes from Blue Springs.  Plus they’re constantly building out south.”

KC Comedy History

When Kaufman started thinking about his new club, he searched the records of the Missouri Secretary of State’s office to see if anybody had registered the name.  What he found was that a license had been issued to the Comedy Club of Kansas City, Missouri, back in 1915.

“They would put on playlets and comedy operas and different things around Kansas City, at like the Muehlebach hotel.  They did this all the way through the 50’s.”

Future Funny

Marsha Warfield

Marsha Warfield appears April 25-27

On April 17 eight local Kansas City comics will compete for an opportunity to appear in the World Series of Comedy.

Eric Swartz, known for his “Surrender to the Blender” on Hulu, will appear April 18-21.  

Marsha Warfield will be appearing April 25-27.  Warfield is perhaps best known for her role on the 80’s sitcom “Night Court,” and is in residency at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

To view their calendar or to purchase tickets, go to TheComedyClubKC.com.

The Comedy Club of Kansas City is located at 1130 W 103rd St in the Watts Mill Plaza, near the intersection of 103rd Street and State Line.  It is located next to Southside Grill and Subway.

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