Get ready, Olympia. Another night of comedy is coming your way as Tipsy Piano Bar announces the lineup for its third straight month of featured stand-up performances. On May 2 globetrotting comic and Don Rickles impersonator Mike ‘Wally’ Walter will take the stage in a show emceed by Adam Luckey and featuring JR Bedard.
The May 2 show is produced by Joke Masters Comedy, an Olympia-based group that connects regional comedians with local venues that meet their criteria. “Our clientele like a classy environment with good comedy, good drinks and good staff,” says Joke Master CEO James Head. “Tipsy fits our persona perfectly. It’s a great match.”
Joke Master President Amanda Wilhelm visits open mics and other comedy shows throughout Puget Sound looking for talent, seeing performers live whenever possible. “I look for people who aren’t super crass, although there’s a time and a place for it,” says Wilhelm. “I try to hire people I’ve seen in person as much as possible, but any good comedian will have videos so I can watch them before I hire them.”
Walters, the May show’s headliner, has appeared on Showtime, MTV and America’s Funniest People, been a two-time finalist in the Seattle Comedy Competition, and done three tours to the Middle East to entertain U.S. troops. The Don Rickles impersonation evolved spontaneously after he went bald and people began noting the resemblance.
In addition to performing stand-up, featured performer JR Bedard has written for actress Elizabeth Banks and is the Executive Editor for the Podaholics Comedy Network. He has several screenplays currently on the festival circuit and can be seen in the upcoming season of IFC’s hit show Portlandia.
Host Adam Luckey is a rising star in the industry, recently winning a comedy contest which included over a hundred comics.
Tipsy Manager Jeremy Hopkins says the shows are all part of adding new things to the existing mix of entertainment. Every week, pianists perform from Tuesday through Sunday, with Jazz Jams every third Sunday. Now he plans to incorporate a comedy show once a month. “I like to bring in different kinds of people,” says Hopkins. “That’s why I have so many different piano players, because I don’t like hearing the same thing all the time.”
Tipsy already attracts a diverse clientele ranging in age from 21-years-old to over 70, Hopkins notes. “I’ve worked in clubs and bars for a long time, but this is the only place I’ve ever seen so many people of different ages enjoying the same things,” he explains. “We have a lot of women who come in here in groups or by themselves and they sit at the bar by themselves because they feel comfortable.”
Response to the first two shows was positive, with both selling out. The first was centered around singing comedian Cathy Sorbo, who performed “Songs of Filth” to a vastly entertained audience. The second show, Women of Comedy, sold out very quickly, so Tipsy owner Jonas Rodriguez, decided to hire a new production company to put on another show.
Joke Masters started in Olympia but is expanding to other cities, establishing a base of venues where a rotating panel of comics can perform once a month. “We’re getting it going on a consistent basis, so their clients know what to expect,” Wilhelm says. “With Tipsy, that has been the first Thursday of the month so far. We’re moving forward with that so eventually people will be looking for these shows.”
Hopkins believes the combination of ingredients makes for a perfect night out, whether for a date or an evening on the town for groups of friends. “It’s a complete package,” he says. “You’ve got good food and drinks plus good entertainment all in your home town. You don’t have to go to Seattle. It’s a good time right here in Olympia and that’s important for people to have.”
Tipsy Piano Bar
514 Capitol Way, Olympia
Tuesday – Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to close