Back Porch Comedy gives out free laughs


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UWF senior Ben Neergaard performs at The Big Easy Tavern for open mic comedy night.
Photo by Cassie Rhame.

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enter In a tiny, hidden venue called the Big Easy Tavern, you’ll find free entertainment each Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m., in the form of an open mic comedy night.

The weekly night for laughs is hosted by a network of Pensacola comedians called Back Porch Comedy, and the unlikely venue is inside the Days Inn hotel at Palafox and Cervantes streets in downtown Pensacola.

The dive might be small, but it is described by patrons as having a laid-back and friendly environment. “I’m not much of a club guy, so this close-knit and relaxed bar is exactly my speed,” UWF junior exercise science major Madison Reid said. “Everyone is chill and just wants to have a good time.”

“The drinks are super cheap, and they always have specials going on,” communication arts sophomore Courtney Randall said. “I mean honestly — what more could you ask for as a broke college student?”

Each Tuesday’s show consists of special guests along with the open mic volunteers, some of which have been performing at the Big Easy Tavern for months. Being an open mic event, anyone is welcome to perform a brief set, as long as they are signed up by 9 p.m..

UWF senior studio art major Ben Neergaard has taken the stage a few times at the Big Easy Tavern, and advises any student interested in comedy to give it a shot.

“Being a comedy bar, people are prime and ready to expect to laugh,” Neergaard said. “It makes the nerves easier because most of the time, people are focused and not disruptive.”

Back Porch Comedy also hosts free comedy (not open mic) on Fridays at this same venue with headliners on tour as well as comedians from the Florida area. The headliners on Fridays have boasted an impressive list of names, including Ben Kronberg and Dave Stone.

Comic Wiley Farrar Jr. said the weekly event once suffered from an “identity crisis,” and went through a lull until Tony Burkett and Zach Van Gestel took over as hosts. Burkett said he took on the job because of his love for comedy and the lack of passion from past hosts.

“I’m just happy this is here in the last place you would expect — the Days Inn in Pensacola,” Gulf Shores comic Cris Fowler said. Fowler has been performing for the venue for several months now.

“Open mic is different because you get a lot of different types of people,” Fowler said. “Some people are just happy to have a mic in their hands to get the voices out of their heads.”

The comics, described as one big family, see the crowd as what makes the comedy special. There is said to be a rewarding quality to making people laugh, which is the fundamental purpose behind these comedy nights.

“For students, I think there is a chance to see amazing headliners and professionals,” Farrar said. “It is amazing comedy, especially being free.”

Farrar said he has been performing at the Big Easy Tavern weekly for about eight months, and calls it “an outlet for creativity for an art that is truly underappreciated.” “Each room has a separate energy and vibe… You get a real chance for magic moments here.”

To learn more about Back Porch Comedy, and to keep up with events, visit their Facebook.