Can I Get Fries With That?

by Tom Swift

Impressions on my first visit to Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy at the Mall of America:

– Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy at the Mall of America is the comedy house equivalent of fast food. It’s McComedy. It’s slick. It’s get in, get out, the next show starts in a half hour … and, besides, our tables aren’t nice enough that you want to linger at them any way … oh, by the way, did we mention we have a margarita special going … and the people serving you on stage may or may not be wearing clothes that reveal they care at all about the matter at hand.[1][2]

– They charge $4.75 for water. I just wanted a glass to sip with my adult beverage.

– At the end of the night checks are presented in aggressive, almost militant fashion, with all of the servers seemingly coming out at once carrying an arsenal of black books. Even the headliner was distracted by the parade and made a joke about it.[3]

– That headliner, Jimmy Shubert, exceeded my expectations.[4] He went to the toilet a little more than he needed to, and more than suits my taste, but he’s a pro’s pro. You might say a poor-person’s Rodney Dangerfield. He was simply in a different league than the undercard comedians and emcee who took the stage before him.[5] Among his best bits is one on therapy cats on airplanes and, in my favorite, he says what we’re all thinking[6] when we encounter the self-checkout aisle at the grocery store: “I don’t know the code for the mango.”

– At one point it seemed clear Shubert was having more fun than the audience. This could be taken as a put-down of the comedian. It’s really a put-down of the audience. Not a lot of energy in the room is what I am saying.[7]

– I love stand-up and want to support places that support comedians. The place was maybe half full on a Saturday night in winter when indoors-only activities were mandatory. The venue felt like a showroom for the place we were already in. The first bit of entertainment you get is a marketing video about Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy and, in case you forgot on your way in past the roller coasters and J. Crew, this was the one at the Mall of America.[8]


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[1] The headliner excepted.

[2] No one goes to see a comedian’s attire. And a three-piece would be weird. But you can wear a T and jeans and still look you give a shit.

[3] After Shubert was shooed off stage by an aggressive blinking red light and while the emcee was giving away cheap prizes to people who were willing to hand over their contact information for marketing purposes, I got up to use the restroom. In the ninety seconds I was gone my credit card was swiped and the server took it upon herself to add a 30-percent tip I had not authorized. I certainly planned to add a gratuity but wanted to wait until the lights came on and I could actually read the bill so as to calculate an amount. I didn’t know about the 30-percent tip until I checked my bank statement. Contacts to the club for clarification required more personal information than is required to get on a flight. Within 12 hours of initiating contact my email address had already added been to their mass marketing e-list. Something else I didn’t authorize.

[4] I wasn’t expecting to see Seinfeld, of course.

[5] I have since checked out Shubert on YouTube, including some clips from his specials on Comedy Central. Yeah, he’s been on Comedy Central, for those with television.

[6] Or at least what I am thinking.

[7] But then is there a lot of energy in McDonald’s?

[8] Not necessarily in billions but others are served at Rick Bronson’s in Edmonton and Phoenix.