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In Lowell, Arkansas, on business Highway 71, surrounded by mechanic shops, manufacturing businesses, and a big chunk of the trucking industry, there’s a lively comedy club pulling in some impressive acts.
“Comedians are on stage here because of the audience. The people attending the show just want to have fun.”
Fun is precisely what Bill Adams hopes to deliver with his lineup of comedians and special events at The Grove Comedy Club and Entertainment Complex. If you don’t know it’s there, the venue is easy to miss. It’s humble, just as its owner comes across.
Adams is not in the business for fame. He’s in it to have a good time and to pass along the enjoyment to others. Comedians at the club include those with name recognition as well as some lesser-known comics.
Past acts include Jackie Fabulous, who received a standing ovation and made several audiences laugh during her time on “America’s Got Talent.” Jon Lovitz, whose regular stint on “Saturday Night Live” and numerous acting credits made him a household name in the 90s.
Paul Varghese appeared on a season of NBC’s reality show, “Last Comic Standing.” He’ll be on stage at The Grove on Oct. 21. Kevin Nealon of “Saturday Night Live” fame holds five spots from a Thursday night through the first weekend in December.
Adams jokes that the reason he’s in the business has something to do with being a little bit foolish, pointing to the sometimes-irrational nature of entrepreneurs. But behind the joke, there’s a seriousness that circles back around again to, yes…humor.
Adams served in the military during the Gulf War and the subsequent conflict in Somalia. Shortly after returning from combat, he attended a comedy act at a now-closed club in Fayetteville. The laughter brought relief from the somber work and conditions he’d experienced.
“The laughter was therapeutic. I want to share that with other people who might need to come in for a while, put down serious things going on in their lives, and enjoy the humor.”
It’s hard to miss the enthusiasm in Adams’ voice when he talks about the club. He gives the impression that the time and labor he’s investing in his business is, in fact, so much fun there’s hardly any work involved.
But joking aside, he admits it takes quite a bit to pull off this genre of entertainment.
Running such a venue requires a lot of work and deft organization. On show nights, Adams and his staff seat 175 to 200 people and serve drinks and food—all within a 20-minute window before a comedian takes the stage.
“It’s a logistical feat every time we have a show.”
Along with the usual comedy, most of which involves content for mature audiences, Adams tries to bring in family-appropriate acts once a month. Dry Bar comedian Jeff Allen has performed at The Grove, and Andy Hendrickson is on the lineup for Nov. 11 and 12.
While Adams is always most excited about bringing in the up-and-coming comics, the ones who are more well-known help keep the club running.
“The famous comedy acts pay the bills. The funny ones are for me.”
Mitch Fatel, general manager of The Grove Comedy Club has his mind on the logistics of the shows. A comedian and New York native, he performed at the club several years ago and met Adams. Wanting to settle down from frequent touring and be closer to relatives, Fatel and his family moved to Arkansas.
Like Adams, Fatel loves the business and wants to make sure the experience for customers and comedians is a good one. He’s also worked to bring in entertainment for younger audiences.
Inspired by childhood memories of magic shows his dad took him to, and his own five-year-old, he has taken on a project to bring family-friendly entertainment to the club that’s as fun for parents as it is for children.
“I want to make the magic show a regular thing. Something different than what’s already in the area for families to do.”
On Oct. 22, The Grove Comedy Club will host their first magic show when they welcome local magician George Reader. Tickets include a mac-and-cheese meal for children 15 and under. Fatel is encouraged by the reception so far.
“We’ve sold a lot of tickets already for a show that’s still several weeks away.”
Just across the parking lot from the comedy club, good times continue at the GOAT Lab Brewery and Tap Room. Menu items include brick oven pizza, burgers, chicken wings, steak and seafood entrees, several side-order options, salads and a slew of appetizers.
The interior of the restaurant and brewery is part dining room, part lounge. Everything from the décor to the furniture—a table crafted from a bike, a chair covered in fur—to the beer faucets behind the bar invites customers to relax, have a drink, and perhaps play a game of pool or Ping-Pong in the next room.
There’s one more piece of entertainment that comes with Adams’ venue. Behind the comedy club lies a sports complex with a field and courts for soccer, rugby, cornhole, beach volleyball, pickleball, ultimate Frisbee and human foosball. All he asks for is $20 a year and a waiver for use.
With this trio of entertainment, Adams has tried to make sure there are plenty of options so the community in Northwest Arkansas can experience the kind of fun he values. He’s still doing exactly what brings enjoyment to him.
“This beats working for a living.”
The Grove Comedy Club
808 S. Bloomington in Lowell
Opens for comedy acts Wednesday to Saturday in the evening and other times for special events.
Full bar and kitchen.
List of shows and to purchase tickets
The comedy club enforces respect for its customers and comedians. Attendees are required to keep their phones silent and in magnetically sealed Yondr bags provided by the club and may leave to use their phones outside of the showroom if needed.
The GOAT Lab Brewery and Tap Room
722 S. Bloomington St. in Lowell
Opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday to Sunday
Craft beer, food, television, Ping-Pong, pool.
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