by Beth Mack
August 10, 2022
In a city where craft breweries and banking reign supreme, it is easy to overlook the local comedy scene. On the surface, The Comedy Zone has been bringing in national headliners and celebrities to Charlotte for decades, and Belmont native comedian and celebrity, Fortune Feimster, is now a national and global presence. But the city’s comedy scene is and has been growing steadily, bringing in big names and introducing the next generation of comedians.
It wasn’t long ago the few places for local comedians to get regular stage time were The Comedy Zone, Crown Station, and Acting Out Studio. That changed in 2017 when a partnership developed between Blumenthal Performing Arts, The Comedy Zone, and Queen City Comedy. Together, the trio of organizations opened the door for local comedians with The Improv Room at Stage Door Theater to perform in the heart of Charlotte, garnish more attention. The group didn’t stop there, they went on to launch the Queen City Comedy Experience (QCCE) in 2018.
Nowadays you can catch a comedy show in all types of venues, from local breweries to museums. For budding comedians seeking training, look no further than the growing list of places offering classes from improv to stand-up includes the Charlotte Comedy Theater, Comedy Theater of Charlotte (CATch), OTC Improv, Acting Out Studio, Planet Improv, and The Hurt Hub@Davidson just to name a few.
With increasing opportunities and support for local comedy, it is no coincidence that the talent pool of comedians in Charlotte has deepened. While you may not recognize their names just yet, we think you will be hearing a lot more in the future. Here are some up-and-coming comedians to check out during the Queen City Comedy Experience.
Almost six years ago, while on his lunch break in Winston-Salem, Centry noticed a sign outside of a bar promoting a weekly open mic comedy show. He was looking for something new to do so he decided to give it a shot. With comedic influences of Katt Williams, Kevin Hart, Anthony Jeselnik and Sarah Silverman, Centry’s stand-up reputation has led him to perform all across the state. Success followed him in his move to Charlotte when he landed a residency at The Comedy Zone, along with netting a slew ofvperformances across the Southeast, including opening for George Willborn. Centry’s next local gigs include his favorite, Funny on The Fly All Stars on August 10, and the Blue Chips Comedy Show on August 16. You can also find him regularly at one of his favorite venues right here in Charlotte, Starlight on 22nd, where it hosts multiple comedy shows.
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If you are into the local comedy scene and have not heard of Don Garrett, the joke is on you. The Virginia native has performed all over the East Coast opening for the winner of the fifth season of Last Comic Standing, Jon Reep. Garrett is also helping cultivate Charlotte’s comedy scene by teaching stand-up and improv classes. Check out his newest set, Don Garrett Comedy Presents…The Unfiltered Show Vol 2 at Booth Playhouse on August 13.
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The queen of the Charlotte comedy scene is none other than Tara Brown. The Brooklyn native stumbled into comedy eight years ago when she saw an ad for a stand-up comedy class at The Comedy Zone. She was looking for something fun to do, so she signed up and hasn’t looked back since. Channeling her comedic influences of Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and Michael Jr., Brown has taken the crown in The Comedy Zone’s “Fight Night” and “Comedy Battle” competitions. Brown’s career has taken her all over the country including the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, where she got the chance to perform with her mentor, Jeanne Robertson. Locally, Brown has opened for Theo Von at the Belk Theater and can be regularly spotted at The Evening Muse and The Comedy Zone. Recently, she recorded a comedy album and is slated for several appearances as part of the QCCE all month long.
Aug 10: Funny on the Fly
Aug 16: Nerdy Night Out: Ladies Who Rock
Aug 20: Tara Brown’s Clean & Family Friendly Comedy Show
Aug 23: Night of 1000 Laughs Allstars
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After being fired from his first job out of college, Laine decided to pursue comedy one evening while he and his roommates were watching Saturday Night Live. The host was bombing and he commented to his roommates that it was “the worst comedy” he’d ever seen. When one of his roommates replied “It’s harder than it looks,” Laine simply responded: “Okay, I’ll do it.” Four years later, Laine hasn’t taken his foot off the pedal.
Utilizing his comedic role models of Tim Hawkins, Fortune Feimster, Daniel Sloss, and Iliza Schlesinger for inspiration, Laine has performed at a multitude of venues across the states and Canada, with New York City’s Broadway Comedy Club as one of his favorites. Locally, you may have already experienced Laine’s stand-up as tour guide on Charlotte’s The Funny Bus. You can also catch his stand-up in venues around Charlotte including Optimist Hall, where he often performs with AQRONYM enterprises, which supports LGBTQ+ stand-up and sketch comedians. You can catch him on August 13 as part of the QCCE as he hosts I Started Comedy During a Pandemic.
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While attending William & Mary, Ranson, a Richmond native, joined an improv comedy troupe, which ignited his passion for comedy. He moved to Chicago after graduation to study improv at some of the best comedy institutions in the nation, using Carol Burnett, Betty White, and Lucille Ball as his comedic inspirations. Ranson followed in the footsteps of legends Stephen Colbert and John Candy, and completed training at ImprovOlympics (iO), The Annoyance Theater, and The Second City. He’s performed all over the country with Second City Touring Company and is a founding member of Baby Wants Candy, a well-known musical improv group. Ranson has performed internationally as well, most notably at one of the world’s largest celebrations of arts and culture, the month-long Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
When he is not performing on stage, you can find him teaching improv and sketch comedy classes at Charlotte Comedy Theater. To see the improv comedy veteran in action, get tickets to AQRONYM at Discovery Place Science on August 13.
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For a complete list of events visit Blumenthal Performing Arts’ official Queen City Comedy Experience website.
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