Rick Bronson's House of Comedy opens in former Lafflines digs

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      New Westminster's Lafflines becomes Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy starting this week in the historic Columbia Theatre.

      American comedian and blue-collar character Jimmy Shubert, a veteran of Comedy Central, The King of Queens, and Last Comic Standing, kicks off the reopening, performing to Sunday (January 5).

      Comedian and magician Rick Bronson opened the first House of Comedy at the West Edmonton Mall before he and his wife and business partner Tammy Bronson added locations in Minnesota's Mall of America and on Phoenix's High Street. 

      For the New West location, Michael Hwang, owner of Lafflines, has partnered with the Bronsons to bring the company's full dining-and-entertainment approach to life. At 31 years old, Lafflines billed itself as the longest running independent comedy club in B.C.

      The new partnership should signal the arrival of more high-profile acts to Metro Vancouver, with House of Comedy's regular performers like Preacher Lawson, T.J. Miller, and Trevor Wallace. Over its history, House of Comedy venues have hosted names like Norm Macdonald, Tom Green, Steve-O, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and more.

      The Columbia Theatre
      courtesy Columbia Theatre


      "We were simply wowed by the beauty and feel of this original Vaudeville Room built in 1927," Bronson said of the Columbia Theatre in the press announcement.

      Opened in 1925, the ornate Columbia originally offered its patrons a combination of cinema, vaudeville, and live music. In 1976, Famous Players added a second level and screen to the space. The City of New Westminster purchased the Columbia in 2000 and leased it to the Raymond Burr Performing Arts Society until 2006, when it became the Burr Theatre. The building was then sold, renovated, and restored in 2011 to a cabaret-style live show theatre with two stages, including Lafflines' home stage.