WEST PALM BEACH – Corey Cognac is following a simple formula designed to create successful shows on the South Florida stand-up comedy scene.
He plans to become the best by surrounding himself with the best.
That plan took a big step forward this week with shows on consecutive days that included international headliners Flip Schultz and Jimmy Shubert.
“It feels good to be a part of a winning team, because I know these guys are winners and that’s all I’m trying to do is align myself with people that have been in the game this long – longer than me,” Cognac said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Cognac is a comedy newbie, starting his career less than one year ago.
Like many comics and producers, the pandemic forced Cognac, 36, into a change of career plans. He dropped a couple of other businesses that couldn’t survive the COVID restrictions, pivoting toward a career in comedy.
“This is what I chose to pursue,” Cognac said. “I’m just going full force, man. I’m just going to fake it until I make it and surround myself with winners like these headliners here, and do the best I can to produce a great product and great shows.”
Cognac’s already produced shows at two good-sized West Palm Beach bars, and on Friday welcomes another venue into his fold when Shubert headlines at the Grandview Public Market in downtown West Palm Beach.
The show offers a unique hook. Fans won’t need to purchase a ticket to see Shubert, but for $20 they can purchase a ticket that provides access to all the draft beer, wine and Grandview Punch they can drink.
“To have guys like Jimmy Shubert on board, that feels different,” Cognac said, “It feels like a better product. It’s something I can back a lot more and be more invested in.”
Friday’s show will almost certainly fare a little better than Thursday’s.
Cognac’s been producing successful twice-monthly shows at the Butcher Shop Beer Garden and Grill, but on Thursday inclement weather forced the comics to perform in a covered area near a main door with heavy foot traffic – especially for servers – and chatty eaters, rather than their traditional isolated spot – an outdoor stage that has picnic benches, warm lighting and an attentive audience.
Though comics struggled a bit with a setting Cognac characterized as “rough,” they also did their best to have some fun with it. Lacking a true stage, Robb Kalert climbed a top a barrel to be better seen by the audience, only to find everything except for his head was obscured every time someone opened the door to the main bar – which was often.
Kolin Bohannon took advantage of the wireless microphone to walk the length of the aisle, effectively performing his version of stand-up comedy in the round. Stephanie Wood did something similar, treating the walkway like a “cat walk.”
Schultz hilariously steered into the skid, electing to interview servers and customers as they walked by him, and often holding the door open for servers carrying trays of food.
“When the servers started coming through, it’s the gorilla in the room,” Schultz said. “I wanted to call attention to it, make it part of the show, make it feel seamless.”
Rain won’t be an issue on Friday night. Cognac says the stage and seating are all covered.
Cognac hopes to make shows at Grandview a monthly event, following the same formula there as he has for other shows – hire a bigger name national performer to headline and filling the rest of the lineup with some of the best local comics.
On Friday, Jackie Sanchez features for Shubert. Cognac will also perform.
Which begs the question, does Cognac view himself as more of a comic comic or a comedy producer?
“I haven’t figured that out yet,” Cognac said.
Give him time. After all, he’s still new to the game. And winning doesn’t happen overnight.