Big Grove to host first Backroom Comedy event

Big Grove will host its first comedy event on July 30 with a lineup that will include four comedians.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ben A

Big Grove Brewery & Taproom is seen on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Seton Warren, News Reporter

Big Grove Brewery and Taproom will host its first Backroom Comedy event on July 30.

“We haven’t done any comedy,” said Danny Standley, the managing partner at Big Grove. “We’ve done live music. We’ve actually done small plays in the backroom, and we put people on stage with a light on them with the rest of the room blacked out to tell stories and things like that, but we haven’t actually done comedy.”

Big Grove hopes to host more shows in the backroom, which is separated from the restaurant with simple blackout curtains and a spotlight to make the space favorable for small, personal shows.

“It is kind of up in the air,” said Standley. “Ideally, we’d have something back there Monday through Thursday night, maybe comedy, or doing small plays, or readings back there.”

Four comedians are included in the lineup for the July 30 show, including Donny Townsend, a comedian from Davenport.

He compares his comedic style to a “one-person food fight.”

“I’m just saying things I probably shouldn’t,” Townsend said. “It’s like I just have plates of food I’m just throwing at the wall.”

He has crafted his unique comedic style but finds inspiration in others.

“My mom’s pretty funny,” Townsend said. “I like a lot of different types of comedy, a lot of sketch comedy. I always find something I like about almost everyone.”

He looks forward to playing a venue that hasn’t hosted comedy before.

“I especially like playing at a place that doesn’t get a lot of comedy, because people really appreciate it,” Townsend said.

Mike Lucas is another comedian playing the Backroom Comedy event. He enjoys the simplicity of one-liners.

“I don’t have any grand ideas that I’m changing minds philosophically or politically,” he said. “I just like to tell jokes because I think it’s fun to make people laugh.”

Big Grove designed the backroom to create an intimate experience for both the audience and the performers.

“We wanted to change the vibe back there,” Standley said. “We almost wanted to coin it as Big Grove’s basement.”

Playing shows in small venues is thrilling for the performers because it allows for them to gauge the audience’s reaction.

“In a setting like that, it’s pretty fun because everybody’s up close and packed in together,” Lucas said. “It’s good to see reactions pretty readily. When you’re on a big stage, it’s hard to see because the lights are in your eyes. So it’s more fun to have interactions with folks this way.”