Top it off with laughs
Rochester / A night out
Comedy club sits above restaurant/pub
By Sara Nelson
Since Goonie’s Comedy Club opened two and a half years ago, it’s brought an ever-changing lineup of nationally touring comedians to downtown Rochester.
Named in honor of owner Mark Klampe’s great grandmother, the club had been a dream of his for years. The seed was planted when he attended college in Madison, Wis., and frequented the comedy club there.
When the Bank and Trust building (which formerly housed O’Neill’s Pizza Pub) became available, Klampe knew it was the perfect spot for Goonie’s. But he also knew it was a little too big. To make it work, he turned the downstairs part of the space into McGoon’s Taxi Co., a re-imagining of his great grandfather’s Rochester taxicab business. It’s become a pub and restaurant, although its decor pays homage to Klampe’s family history and the history of the region with photos, objects and newspaper clippings passed down from Mr. McGoon.
The menu features a variety of well-loved classics, from burgers and malts to walleye and steak dinners, and the bar stocks dozens of different kinds of alcohol.
Klampe knew from the beginning that he wanted to keep McGoon’s separate from the comedy club so people wouldn’t "feel like they’re seeing comedy in a pub," or vice-versa. Despite the distinction, there’s no denying McGoon’s is a convenient place to grab a bite before heading upstairs to a show.
If you’ve never seen standup comedy before, you might be surprised by how dirty and dark some of the material can get. Klampe says that although he rates each comedian to determine whether they’ll be invited back, he never censors what they say.
However, most comics alternate their filthiest jokes with some milder ones.
At a recent show, the opener was Sharon Lacey, a former teacher who made the tribulations of teaching a motif of her act. Throughout her set, she checked in with the "ADD kids" in the audience, to make sure they were following along.
On the same night, headliner Steve Burr said it was his first time visiting Rochester, and he was impressed with the skyways.
"Your city is like a giant gerbil cage," he marveled, before recounting a series of unfortunate events that unfolded as he tried to find a toilet plunger at the Kahler Grand Hotel.
In addition to the professional shows, Goonie’s hosts a free open mic night every Thursday. Brave amateurs typically make up the roster, and audiences frequently swell to a hundred or more.
Highlights of a recent open mic included performances by Shannon Kelly, who referred to her dad as a "man-tato," and Steve Rivas, who managed to compare Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to entrees at Long John Silver’s.
Klampe says business picks up at Goonie’s in the dark and cold of the winter, which seems about right.
"It’s an hour and a half break from regular life when you get to sit back and laugh, and there aren’t many things out there that are better for you than laughing," he said. "It’s a cheap prescription."
Sara Nelson is a Rochester freelance writer.
Goonie’s Comedy Club
• Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
• 18+ for the 7:30 p.m. show, 21+ for the 10 p.m. show
• $15 in advance, $17 at the door
• Free open mic night every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
• Office/bachelor/bachelorette parties available
• Veterans get in free
• Handicap accessible
• Check www.gooniescomedy.com for a schedule of upcoming performances
McGoon’s Taxi Co.
• Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner
• Take-out, box lunches and catering available
• Entrees from $7 to $16
• Full assortment of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, steaks and seafood
• Kid’s menu