“This may be remembered as the year the comedy scene exploded in Northwest Arkansas. Although the standup scene in the area has enjoyed many brief bursts of attention before, it found renewed growth this year.
“Just this year, all of the sudden, it came out of nowhere,” says Roger Haak, public events coordinator for the UARK Bowl event center on Dickson Street, which books many comedy acts.
The scene grew on many levels this year, from those performing their first-ever sets to those whose names can be found regularly on marquees and in televised specials.
After hosting a similar event at another Fayetteville club, local comedian Troy Gittings early this year launched an all-comedy open mic night at West End in Fayetteville. Each Tuesday night, about a half dozen amateur comedians of various talent levels and styles gather to tell jokes.
Gittings also organizes the Fools on Parade comedy team, a group of standup comediansthat have performed several times at the UARK Bowl, the de facto home for comedy in the area. Similarly, the Expendables of Comedy, a group headed by local comedian Marcus Lane, has played various venues in Fayetteville, Fort Smith and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Haak says that longer-established acts such as the Phunbags improv comedy troupe have experienced a considerable bump in attendance this year.
Haak says the UARK will host more comedy shows in the future, both with localtalent and budding national talent, such as was the case with recent shows by touring talents Paul Hooper and Rory Scovel. Those are the kind of names that could soon end up on marquees, he says.
Already at that level are comedians such as Larry Miller and Ron White, both of whom performed at the Walton Arts Center this year.
White sold out two May dates at the 1,200-seat venue.
The momentum isn’t stopping soon. The arts center already has national talents Brian Regan and Louis Black on the calendar for January.”
Whats Up, Pages 12 on 12/23/2011
–Source NWA Online