BOCA RATON – What began as a COVID-19 diversion grew into a cottage industry for a couple of South Florida comics and promoters.
Restless and bored several months into the Florida lockdown, David Sadman and Nadeem Awad took their craft to the streets – much to the delight of Sadman’s neighbors – by producing a full comedy show in a neighborhood cul-de-sac long before outdoor shows became the rage.
“We had about 60 people show up,” Sadman recalls. “We set up the equipment – made it look as much like an indoor show as possible. We had everything but a roof.”
That show, held in May, proved so successful that the neighbors requested another performance.
“We started scheduling them once a month,” Sadman said. “And then some of the people who were coming to those shows started asking if we could do them in their neighborhoods.”
The neighbors weren’t the only ones who loved them. Comics, starved for work by the lock down, embraced the unconventional shows, too.
“Outdoor shows I’m not a big fan of, but I’ll do them,” said national headliner Dean Napolitano. “But David and Nadeem’s shows, the two that I have done have been awesome.”
As word of the cul-de-sac shows spread through the comedy community, more national comics began contacting Sadman and Awad.
With New York and Los Angeles effectively shut down – both cities still are – the likes of Jimmy Shubert, Flip Schultz and Carl Rimi – all national acts with multiple television credits on their resumes – enjoyed the same experience as Napolitano.
“Actually I was pretty impressed with the amount of people that came out to this,” said Schultz, who relocated from Los Angeles to South Florida during the pandemic.
Cul-De-Sac Comedy In Demand
By the end of January Sadman and Awad had completed approximately 15 neighborhood shows. During a typical performance anywhere from 50-80 neighbors and friends bring their own lawn chairs and coolers, spacing their territories throughout the cul-de-sac.
Sadman doesn’t advertise the shows, guarding against overcrowding. The shows are free, and in nearly every case audience members have generously filled the tip jar.
Of course, not every show went according to plan.
A tropical downpour shortly before showtime forced the postponement of one October show and a later-than-expected start to another, prompting Rimi to quip about his first performance ever to experience a rain delay.
Once on stage that night Rimi encountered a couple more unusual obstacles – a barking dog and some distracting 20-foot tall Halloween lawn decorations equipped with flashing lights.
“First time being heckled by a doberman shepherd,” Rimi said, laughing. “I think it’s entertaining, especially now at these times. It beats a little sh*tty bar. People want to come out in lawn chairs.”
Post-show reaction is almost exclusively positive.
“I loved it,” Coraly Hannaka said following Rimi’s performance. “Awesome. A time to chillax with laid-back craziness.”
Big-name Comics in the Neighborhood
Nearly every week in December Sadman and Awad brought stand-up comedy shows to neighborhoods.
Fans attending earlier cul-de-sac performances asked the duo to book private shows at their holiday parties, bringing Napolitano and Shubert into Boca Raton driveways and patios.
Even with the increase in shows, Sadman still couldn’t fit every comic requesting a booking.
Comics flocked be a part of the Sadman cul-de-sac shows – even if they weren’t scheduled to perform. Shubert, who had the No. 1 comedy album early in 2020, rushed to Boca Raton following a late-January bar performance to deliver a surprise guest spot at Sadman’s home cul-de-sac.
“I’m going to put street performer on my resume,” Shubert joked. “I enjoyed it immensely.”
As enjoyable as the cul-de-sac shows are, the post-show parties in Sadman’s backyard became the ultimate destination. Those invited find themselves surrounded by a who’s who list of national and South Florida local comics.
“It’s a private invite only – people have been turned away,” Awad said. “It’s our own little rat pack.”
Sadman and Awad took a break from booking cul-de-sac shows while prepping for the late-February launch of the Sadman Comedy Speakeasy Lounge, but now that Sadman’s successfully producing twice-monthly shows at the venue above Arturo’s in Boca Raton he’s promising more cul-de-sac shows on the horizon.
“I knew they would be good, they would be fun,” Awad said, “I didn’t think they’d take off the way they did.”