DANIA BEACH – For months Chris Carbo had been looking forward to seeing Marlon Wayans take the stage as part of the grand opening of the Dania Improv.
Carbo spent most of Thursday inside South Florida’s newest comedy venue, but didn’t get to enjoy the show. Instead, Carbo, on of the Danua Improv’s co-owners, spent most if his time in the kitchen ensuring the food flowed properly.
That was only part of a frenetic first day that also entailed installing furniture and prepping the kitchen.
“Right down the the last minute,” Carbo said.
By 10:30 p.m., however, Carbo stood smiling in the back of the room watching satisfied patrons head into the warm Dania night.
“It was a success,” said Carbo, one of the club’s co-owners. “Good first night.”
Wayans’ performance in Dania was the first at a Fort Lauderdale-area Improv property since the closing of the Improv’s Seminole casino venue about five years ago.
The return of a Fort Lauderale-area club gives the Improv franchise three South Florida venues, joining the Palm Beach Improv (West Palm Beach) and the Miami Improv (Doral).
Aside from having that new Improv smell, visitors could be forgiven for not realizing Thursday marked the venue’s opening night.
A crowd ready to laugh filled the main seating area ordering huge plates of nachos, burgers and colorful drinks.
“It looks really good,” patron Ashley Louise said of the club. “It’s very comfortable. It’s nice.”
After the emcee welcomed fans to “the brand new, world famous Dania Improv,” DC Ervin became the first comic to officially take the Dania Improv stage.
Wayans followed with an hour-long set that intermingled jokes about friends and loved ones lost over the past two years with tales of growing up a in what would arguably become the first family of comedy.
The tributes to his mother and father not only elicited some of the hardest laughs, they also demonstrated the benefits of being raised inside a strong family unit.
Wayans signed off to rousing applause and, following a short break, returned to the stage for a 15-minute encore.
About 250 patrons witnessed Wayan’s grand opening performance.
“I think we could actually have gotten some more people in here but we kept it not to full capacity to see how the staff was going to do,” Carbo said. “But overall it was really good. We’ll be ready for the weekend.”
To be certain, Carbo and staff still have more work to do. The generic “Improv” sign that serves as a backdrop on the stage could change as early as tonight to reflect the specific Dania Improv logo.
The outside marquee has yet to be installed. A temporary sign currently hangs in its place.
And 14 North, a cuban style daiquiri bar connected to the Improv, is still about four-to-six months from opening.
Most who attended on Thursday, however, didn’t notice the missing finishing touches.
On Friday Carbo will have a second chance – actually, two second chances – to see Wayans on the newly constructed stage. Wayans performs at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday. He has two more shows on Saturday before concluding the opening weekend with a 7 p.m. show on Sunday.
Steve-O of Jackass fame performs four shows over the course of two days next weekend.
Tim Hanlon and Matt Bellak bring their Dope City Comedy Tour to Dania on Sept. 2. Jeff Ross, Nick Colletti, Pauly Shore and Chris Distefano are also booked to perform in September.