Hey I'm KeithFromUpDaBlock. I'm a Philadelphia-born comedian/recording artist. Last week, along with 700 comedians & fans, I watched as our home comedy club THE LAFF HOUSE closed its doors for good after 17 years.
The Laff House was a Philadelphia landmark and home to many hilarious stand up comedians like Michael Blackson, Joe Derosa,TuRae & Kevin Hart. It gave many opportunities to newcomers & Inner-city comics like myself.
The closing was sudden and something most of us didn't see coming. It was my first time headlining and two days before my show I learned that it would be the final night. The reasons for the closing were unclear however a year after the death of his beloved wife and co-owner Rod Millwood tearfully explained to the sold out audience that he needed time to mourn and chose to close the doors.
Had we known that it was closing we would have pulled together to do something, ANYTHING so we could have a place to call home.
Can u help #SaveTheLaffHouse?
I'm not talking about the building or even the name. I'm speaking about the idea and belief that Urban Comedy Clubs are necessary in large cities like Philadelphia, PA. We can do shows at halls, restaurants, bars etc. but these places do not compare to an actual CLUB that is built for stand-up comedy. It gives us a professional place of reference & skills that we can use to make a career out of Stand Up Comedy. There is only one other comedy club in Philly. It's a great place but they don't specifically cater to acts from the inner city. At The Laff House you could walk in a nobody & leave a star. Most of us won't make it to be Chris Rock or Kevin Hart but the fact that we can turn our stories of pain into joy, build a following, increase our skill & make some money means the world to us and those who pay to see us. I have a plan to not only save the idea, spirit and home but to create something bigger, better and something that the comedians, promoters & fans can own and be proud of.
#SaveTheLaffHouse! Heres the plan.
We have a financial goal of One hundred thousand dollars, however, it is our ultimate wish to raise One million dollars. We have 60 days to raise at least $100,000 & it is going into a 'fixed funding' account so if we don't reach that goal whatever you donate will come back to you. You can donate anything you want from one dollar to one million. You can check on how close we are to the minimal goal online at anytime. There are also very cool and fun perks depending on the amount you donate that include T-shirts, cd's, DVD's, Laff House memorabilia, & even popular Laff House comedians performing at your house or business, doing voicemails and chores. If you donate enough you can even have a share of the new home for Philadelphia's Inner City/Urban Comedians. Heres the plan of what we want to do with the money
This plan rests on the reponsible shoulders of great Philadelphia working comics and producers like TuRae Gordon. Donations will go into a Trust. We create a board of trustees from well know Philadelphia Comedians, lawyers, consultants, promoters and audience members with TuRae Gordon as the leader & they decide the best ways to ensure that Urban comedy in Philly remains professional, exciting and progressive. I chose TuRae Gordon because he is a respected leader of the community and the only Pro Comic from The Laff House to teach classes & actually book new comedians. If anyone has their finger on the pulse of Philadelphia Comedy it's him. The panel of professionals with TuRae would vote on the best ways these funds are used and would always include a seat for fans to voice thier opinions of what the new home or actions of the community should be.
Here's how the money works
With 1 hundred thousand dollars we will: Lease/Rent a new venue. Teach classes. Throw great comedy shows. Finish the "#SaveTheLaffHouse" Documentary and enter it into film festivals. Fund social events in the community for low income people & inner city youth. Create opportunities for comedians, promoters, community activist and former staff. Compete with other promotions that do not support Inner City/Urban Comedy events. We could have some leverage and work hard to generate even more money for a new home that we can actually own, which brings me to the next financial goal.
With 1 million dollars we can: Build, design, & own a new home for Philly Comedy. The new club may not be called The Laff House but it would hold tight to the lessons learned from the old club. This new facility would be the first comedy club designed in Philadelphia with Urban/Inner-City Comedy in mind. It could include tributes to legends of Philly Comedy like Bill Cosby, Michael Blackson & Kevin Hart. It will be public owned and the comedians and fans of comedy will have the first options to buy shares allowing them own a piece of this new home. WE could hire a GM or professsional consultancy that will make sure that it succeeds as a business. We can bring in top notch comedy acts. Secure all licensing for Food/Beverage & Alcohol. Money could be set aside for promotion & marketing. It could have state of the art lighting, Two Showrooms ( One In Honor Of Bill Cosby. The other in honor of Kevin Hart.) These showrooms could be used for comedy shows, music performances, Seminars, Spoken Word events etc. A classroom for comedy & improv courses. A great kitchen and the ability to make dishes that are high quality, delicious and healthy. It would be the ultimate hub for anyone brave enough to walk in, learn, grow & see their name in lights. The classes could teach people from the inner-city that they can achieve greatness without violence, drugs and negativity. Laughter is important and comedy fans from all over could feel comfortable in a brand new place with a familiar atmosphere. It would provide jobs for comedians, promoters, Wait Staff, Cooks, Street Teams, Bartenders etc. It can have an interactive website that looks professional and fun. It would be an example of what people can accomplish when they come together in the name of Happiness. #SaveTheLaffHouse isn't a fund raiser. It's a FUN RAISER.
I know that anyone could try to build a club in Philadelphia but it doesn't really help us if something opens and shortly closes. With this plan we can create something that would last & that represents our rich culture and history of Ethnic Urban Comedy in "The City Of Brotherly Love". This isn't about one person owning 1 club it's about ALL OF US owning a new home. So give a little or give a lot! We don't need a hand out, we just need help so WE CAN HELP OURSELVES.
People Die. Buildings Fall. Regimes Change. Legends are forever.
Help us #SaveTheLaffHouse