LAKE WORTH – Irish eyes aren’t the only ones smiling on Tuesday night at Brogues.
Many different nationalities – along with at least one additional body part – smile, chuckle, and even belly laugh during the best open mic the area has to offer.
“I feel like, since coming back from the quarantine, this became that spot,” said comic Phil Isme, who traveled from Port St. Lucie to perform. “So I like coming here and working on jokes and sh*t like that, and seeing other comedians you don’t get to see a lot.”
Brogues ascended to the top of the open mic pyramid in short order. As recently as six months ago many local comics had never heard of this Irish bar located on Lake Ave. in Lake Worth. Comedy wasn’t even on the menu. One half year later, it’s difficult to find a local comic who hasn’t taken the Brogues stage.
A comic who goes by the single moniker of Bryan is probably most responsible for bringing comedy to Brogues.
“The whole COVID thing hit and I’m like, what can I do to help?” said Bryan, a regular patron of Brogues who approached the bar’s management pitching a comedy night.
Bryan asked Jackie Sanchez whether she could produce the show. The 27-year-old South Florida comic quickly developed Bryan’s vision into a success.
After laying low during much of the pandemic, Sanchez launched the first open mic at Brogues on Dec. 15, 2020. At the time the comics performed in a secluded back room, providing what Sanchez described as more of a “writer’s room” experience.
Three months after the mic’s launch, Brogues bumped Sanchez and crew from the back room to the main stage.
“We were in the back room which l liked because it was intimate and it made it a cool show, but obviously we came up here and now we have bar patrons,” said Sanchez while sitting at the bar following Tuesday’s show.
That February move enhanced the experience for most comics.
“I think once it came out here is where it really started to expand, because now we have drunk people to mess with,” said Sanchez, smiling.
Drunk patrons can quickly become hecklers. That’s usually a turnoff for comics, but in this setting they seem to somewhat welcome the challenge.
“This is like a perfect workout room,” said Matt Ross, one of Tuesday’s performers. “Since it’s a bar you have to work for it, but if you can make a joke work here then you can make it work anywhere – which is what we’re looking for. Sometimes it can be a battle, but I personally find that fun.”
The larger reach enhanced the show’s credibility and, ultimately, its visibility.
The number of local comics at the show continues to increase, and national comics like Jimmy Shubert, Flip Schultz and Rick Shapiro have all hopped onto the Brogues stage in recent months to refine their craft.
The weekly event has grown so popular – 45 comics performed last week – that prior to Tuesday’s show Sanchez posted new guidelines on social media that limited the number of performers on any given night to the first 35 signees. Thirty four comics delivered five minutes each on Tuesday night during a an evening that moved quickly despite the long list.
“Cutting down to 30-35 is the sweet spot,” Sanchez said.
Having nearly three dozen performers converge on Lake Worth on a Tuesday night is even more impressive considering there were two additional open mics held a few miles down the road in Delray Beach and another in Pompano Beach.
Local comic John Loveless, who will perform at the Palm Beach Improv on Wednesday as part of the Dirty Laundry Comedy Tour, hit one of those Delray Beach mics before scooting north to take the stage again at Brogues.
“I came up with some new bits, some new ideas,” Loveless said. “I wanted to see what legs they have and how they work. I think they actually worked very well.”
Loveless added that the reaction he received on Tuesday is prompting him to add those jokes to Wednesday’s set at the Improv.
As a venue, Brogues offers everything comics look for in an open mic setting: a permanent stage with lighting, outdoor seating – which on Tuesday served as a de facto comic think tank – a full bar and a kitchen that remains open until 10. The venue’s central Palm Beach County location is also appealing.
“It’s a good place to network,” Loveless said. “You run into comics you work with a lot but you might not see them because they do other shows.”