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Its a laughing matter
Boro man to open comedy, jazz club downtown
W BIZ COMEDY CLUB 01
Everett Robinson hopes to fill an entertainment void in Statesboro with a new comedy and jazz club in downtown Statesboro. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
      In an effort to bring laughter to Statesboro during what has been dubbed the Great Recession, local entrepreneur Everett Robinson is doggedly pursuing his dream of opening a comedy club.
       "After graduating from Georgia Southern and working here in Statesboro for several years, I bought Main Street Billiards on West Main Street three and half years ago," Robinson said. "It wasn't too long after that that a friend of mine and I began to bring comedy shows to the Averitt Center."
       Robinson said the shows were pretty successful, but in an effort to save money, the shows were moved to Main Street Billiards.
"We realized that we were losing part of our audience when we did that, so we decided that the comedy shows really needed a home of their own, and that is when I began to look for a location downtown," he said.
       Robinson said that over a period of several months, he looked at different potential sites, but nothing really came together. It was at that point just a few short months ago that another friend of Robinson's suggested the separate, unused portion of the Yard and Haus building on East Main Street.
       "I called Todd Branyon at Yard and Haus, and he invited me down to look at the empty section of his building," he said. "I walked into it, and just new it could be a great place. We struck an agreement, and I began the renovation and build-out of the space."
       Branyon said he and his partner Bob Williamson weren't really sure what they wanted to do with the remaining portion of their building, and really weren't seriously looking for a tenant until they met Robinson.
       "I think it's great for downtown to have another venue for entertainment," Branyon said. "Sometimes adults may go out to dinner and may not be ready to go home. To be able to listen to some comedy or a little jazz would be wonderful, and he is a really great guy. Everyone that we spoke to about Everett was extremely complimentary about his business skills and professionalism."
       Robinson is building out the 2,800 square foot space with a large area dedicated to comedy, and a smaller, more intimate room for jazz both live and recorded.
       "I sort of conducted an informal survey asking many people what they thought about having somewhere to listen to jazz," he said.   "Overwhelming, people were supportive. So I decided to carve out a small section of the building for that. We will see how it works, but as a musician myself, I am very hopeful that it will."
       Robinson said construction is coming along nicely, but since he is not borrowing any money for the project, his construction schedule is a little longer than he would like.
       "Everyone knows that it is a very tough lending environment right now, and it isn't something that you should take personally," he said. "It is just really difficult right now to borrow money for a commercial project, so I and my partners are doing this on our own. I would like to have it open in November, but the reality is it will probably be a few months after that."
       Tim Chapman, executive director of the Averitt Center for the Arts said the demand for comedy is strong, and is reflected in the selection of shows this season at the Averitt.
       "On Friday, comedian Kenn Kington will be performing," Chapman said. "He is a Georgia Southern graduate, and is pretty famous in comedy circles. He has been on comedy central and can be heard everyday on XM radio. I think right now especially, comedy is a wonderful thing. I am very happy for Everett, and hope that his club will be successful."
       Robinson is going to name his comedy club Main 1 Laf'n. "You will be able to enter the club through the entrance hallway that runs along the side of Yard and Haus," he said. "We will have comedy shows Wednesday through Saturday nights. So, if you can't catch an artist on a Friday night, then you can come the following evening. We intend to book them for more than just one show."
       The club will serve both food and alcohol. "We are finalizing the menu right now. It won't be very complicated, but I think it will be the appropriate type food for the setting."
       Branyon said the economy has taken its toll on everyone, and he has some advice regarding that.
       "We all need to just get ourselves and quite moping around," he said. "We need to laugh, and frankly laughing isn't expensive. I think Main 1 Laf'n is just the type of enjoyable distraction that we all need right now."
       Robinson is married to Kimberly Robinson and they have four children ranging in age from 4 to 14.