Located over in Lilydale, Joke Joint Comedy Club is known as one of the best and most prominent Twin Cities comedy clubs outside of Minneapolis. The venue brings in a mix of national headliners, local comics on the verge of their big break, and newcomers looking to find their voice.
“The club was started in 2007 by my wife and I,” says co-owner Ken Reed. “At the time, I was a touring headlining comedian in Florida, and my wife was pregnant with our first child. I decided I didn’t want to be on the road every weekend, so we thought it would be more fun to own a club and still work with funny people. So we opened on a stage behind the bar/lounge of the Ramada Mall of America Hotel.”
Three years later, they moved the venue to the former Diamond Jim’s Supper Club in Lilydale, after learning that the mall was planning to open a club of their own. The Joke Joint has become one of the most established and successful clubs in Minnesota since (including being named Best Comedy Club in last year’s City Pages Best Of issue).
That’s why it was a major bummer when the news broke earlier this month that the club’s current home, the River Bluffs Shopping Center, is being sold and redeveloped. That means that they’ll once again be searching for a new home.
A-list comedians like Louie Anderson, Josh Blue, and Twitter megastar Rob Delaney, who even gives the club a special shout-out in his autobiography, have all graced the Joke Joint stage, while local standouts like Bryan Miller and Tiffany Norton have had the chance to shine in headlining spots in front of their hometown crowds. What’s most unique about the club, however, is that they are the only one in town that offers a comedy workshop for new comedians, beyond just the usual open mic night where newbies jump into the deep water.
“When I was a performer, I was lucky enough to live in a city that offered comedy workshops for new comedians,” Reed recalls. “We have continued that tradition in Minnesota, with weekly workshops for area comedians to work on material, and to receive positive feedback and suggestions from us and other comedians. Our open mic night follows each of the weekly workshops.”
The club will remain open in its current space through April at least, and has a packed schedule of comedians set to send them off on a high note, including SNL alumni Tim Meadows, hometown favorite Tommy Ryman, and Last Comic Standing finalist Dave Mordal.
Reed, who now operates another Joke Joint location in Texas with his wife, Becky, says that the forced relocation doesn’t have them thinking about closing up shop. In fact, they see this as an opportunity to grow.
“We are looking for a new location that will allow us to continue to be in or near to St. Paul, with easy highway access and -- ideally -- free parking,” he says. “We hope to move to a slightly larger venue so we can bring in larger names, and we hope to continue our workshops and open mic nights.”
No word on whether the ghost of Diamond Jim will be tagging along to the new spot.