T.J Miller’s Sold Out Show at SoulJoel’s Outdoor Stage in Royersford, PA.
As 2020 continues to be a non-typical world for all realms of entertainment the trend of alternative and non-traditional style events has continued to spread across Pennsylvania. While the drive-in concert has been widely successful for the return of live music events and raves the model proved less than successful for comedy events.
Comedy show efforts from Livenation and the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes Barre were successful enough for one-off events but failed to draw a returning audience of fans. This absence left the door wide open for a newcomer to take the field – enter SoulJoel’s Comedy Club & Lounge in Royersford, PA. Not only has the venue cornered down a niche market they have done a really fantastic job with the execution making for a superb experiences for attendees and performers alike.
The struggle of a drive-in comedy show was rooted in the lack of the essential human element, the organic laughter of a crowd, the interaction and even the occasional heckle. SoulJoel’s managed to clear this hurdle and keep things well within the CDC recommended Covid-19 guidelines with their outdoor stage set up for a sold out 6PM performance from T.J. Miller – known by many for his many high profile comedy roles including the Deadpool series, Ready Player One, Silicon Valley, Big Hero 6 & more in addition to his stand up career.
Groups were spaced 6 feet apart and set up on cones to keep things organized as the general admission crowd trickled in for well over an hour leading up to the performance start time. The events at SoulJoel’s are BYOB, bring your own chair and basically anything else you want/need to bring in which allowed for even decreased interactions for another level of social distancing at the show.
The staff was very thorough in making sure patrons were sat properly spaced from the group next to them and that no masks were removed while the excited crowd was walking around the
“venue” space (the venue being a sand beach that was created in the area around the stage for a unique outdoor comedy show vibe). SoulJoel himself welcomed the crowd and thanked them for the sold out show as well as maintaining all social distancing guidelines.
The venue has been able to take over the comedy show market in recent months due to their strict adherence to the rules and it was refreshing to see the crowd understand that their continued participation in following them was crucial to more shows coming in the future. James Mattern was the evening’s special guest host and he did a fantastic job getting the crowd laughing before an opening set from Dustin Chafin.
By the time T.J. Miller took the stage for his sold out headline set the sun had set across the make shift yet oddly functional outdoor stage as the cool fall weather brought a nice chill to the night. Miller proceeded to deliver an exception set that featured a perfectly blended of prepared material and on the fly improv when the crowd, the environment or even an advertisement on the stage presented itself for a joke. Oh – there was juggling, some prop humor, custom hot-sauce being sold, signed face masks damning Covid-19 and a brutal roast of one “fan” who thought he was funnier than Miller by shouting to “turn the lights off” one times too many
After well over an hour of non-stop laughter Miller ended his set to a roar of applause that showcased exactly why SoulJoel’s non-traditional Covid-19 safe comedy shows have become some big. The human element has been returned to comedy with these performances and the comics are able to feed off the crowd as they normally would at a show but in a manner that is as safe as possible until things returning to normal.
Is it ideal? Maybe not? But is it a lot of fun? You bet it is and the execution was flawless enough that fans keep coming back for more with each show that comes to town. The pros certainly outweigh any cons that can be suggested in attending a well executed Covid-19 safe event such as the ones being produced at SoulJoel’s.
2020 has been a difficult year for the entertainment industry but it has given rise to a new generation of innovators who have managed to come with difficult solutions for the toughest year in entertainment ever. Royersford, PA has become a comedy powerhouse and it is a safe bet to say that it remains that way even well after Covid-19 safe shows fade into memory.