April 21, 2014 By Michael Florio
The Laughing Devil Comedy Club has been sold and the establishment is expected to undergo a name change.
Paul Italia, Cris Italia and David Kimowitz, who own The Stand Comedy Club & Restaurant in Manhattan, have been managing the 47-38 Vernon Blvd. club for the past month and are in the process of taking ownership of it.
They will be taking the club over from Steve Hofstetter who started the club at the end of 2011. Hofstetter, who left to go to Los Angeles about one year ago, will retain a small share in it.
Paul Italia said the establishment is about to undergo an upgrade–such an interior renovation.
“It is a small location that can seat 45 to 55 people and the layout will remain that way,” he said. “But we want to infuse a lot of what we do at The Stand into this venue.”
“The quality of shows will increase,” Paul Italia said, since he will invite many of the comedians that perform at The Stand. Comics such as Tracy Morgan, Pete Davidson, Jim Gaffigan, Bill Burr and many others have performed at their Manhattan venue.
Over the past month, Italia said some changes have already started to occur, as they have already made slight changes to the menu and have scheduled new comedy shows, with bigger named comics.
“Customers are already getting a taste of what will be coming up,” Italia said.
The three new partners are just waiting for their names to be on the liquor license. Once that is done, they will start the renovation work and roll out a new name. They will host a series of events to kick off their launch, which should come within the next 30-60 days.
Italia and his partners have been in the comedy business for more than 10 years. In 2004, they helped form Cringe Humor, a blog that would promote local comics. That grew into C.H. Entertainment, which would book shows across New York City for up-and-coming comedians.
In the fall of 2012, the three of them opened The Stand. The comedy club can seat 90 people, while the restaurant can seat 55 people.
Hofstetter, who knew them from the comedy business, approached them about the Laughing Devil, which was starting to decline since he had moved out of state, Italia said.
“They started to focus a lot more on amateur shows,” Italia said. “People felt the comedy got a little stale and the quality of the entertainment fell a little bit below what it should be.”
That will no longer be the case, Italia said. He said that they will be well-positioned to bring in quality comics.
“Ideally, I want to put on shows seven days a week,” Italia said. “If I have the shows and the demand then I will have more room for something different.”
A lot of this will depend on the neighborhood, which Italia believes will provide a lot of demand.
Italia, who grew up in Ridgewood and lived in Long Island City from 2005 through 2009, said his Queens background made him realize that the club would work. “We believe in the area. We want to give it everything.”