Watch above: Montreal loses one of its iconic stand-up clubs after Comedyworks announced it had closed its doors after more than 24 years. Reporter Billy Shields has more.
MONTREAL – A longtime institution for stand-up comedy is gone.
Owner Jimbo Skomorowski told Global News over the phone that the ComedyWorks has closed permanently after operating for almost 25 years.
For passersby in Montreal, the closure came as a shock.
“I’m highly disappointed,” one man told Global News.
“It’s a big part of the community.”
The club opened in March of 1990, and quickly became known as a spot where local comedians were welcomed to take the stage.
It was an important staging ground for the Just for Laughs festival, as a lot of comedians would work the kinks out of their routine before performing under the festival lights.
“It was a great place for independent comedians to go and get their initial chops working,” said Jared Hobey, a Montrealer who used to patronize the club.
The closure was sudden enough that it occurred just as acts were scheduled to go on during the weekend.
An answering machine message told callers the club had ceased operations.
Restaurant workers nearby were caught flatfooted.
“I came in yesterday, I ran into some friends at the end of my shift and we realized it was closed,” said Irkar Beljaars, who works at the Oyster Shack next door.
“No warning, no nothing, it had just shut down.”
“It’s just kind of sad that one of the last comedy clubs is gone,” he said. “It’s an institution.”
Skomorowski said business starting declining in early 2012, and was running at about 45 percent of previous levels.
He attributed the decline to the construction of residences across the street that gobbled up available parking and drove off commuters who used to patronize the bar.
Skomorowski said he doesn’t have any plans to reopen in the future.