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Laugh Boston, Laugh! Improv Asylum Unveils new Comedy Venture

BOSTON, Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Boston's most beloved comedy group, Improv Asylum, is partnering in a new venture – Wicked Comedy, LLC – to unveil a new home for stand-up comedy.

The partnership of Wicked Comedy, LLC consists of Chet Harding & Norm Laviolette of Improv Asylum and John Tobin of Nick's Comedy Stop.  They are opening a new stand-up comedy venue called Laugh Boston in the spring of 2013.  Laugh Boston will be located in the Westin Hotel adjacent to the Boston Convention and Exhibitor's Center in the rapidly expanding Seaport District. It will be situated in a 6,000 square foot space fronting Summer Street.

Improv Asylum and its principals were recently recognized as one of Boston's "Fastest Growing Businesses" in 2012 by the Boston Business Journal.  Improv Asylum has set the standard in Boston for its theater, performers and shows since 1998 and is one of the leaders in improv comedy and training in the country. And, as the standard bearer, the principals and staff of Improv Asylum have built the relationships and network in the entertainment industry that are essential for current and future success. Improv Asylum represents one significant branch of Boston's entertainment scene and is uniquely positioned and qualified to take advantage of a large void in another rapidly growing comedy market, a stand-up comedy theater. In light of this market void, the principals of Improv Asylum have performed extensive research and due diligence in developing a venture that, in conservative terms, will prove profitable in its initial years. The venture, Laugh Boston, will have an immediate impact in Boston's growing industry.

For many years, the Boston comedy scene centered around one very successful mainstay. That was the Comedy Connection, located in the heart of Boston's historic Faneuil Hall. With an approximate capacity of 400, the Comedy Connection was not only an entertainment hotbed for locals and tourists alike, but it also gave Boston's incredible comedic talent a stage to hone and show off their craft.

In 2008, the ownership of the Comedy Connection shuttered the Faneuil Hall location and moved to the renovated Wilbur Theater on Tremont Street. A beautiful and historic theater to be sure and with a capacity of 1100 people, the Wilbur is known for its national acts, both in comedy and music. With such a large capacity, the Wilbur needs those names to fill its house and has been very successful in doing so.

Over the past few years, and, as theater operators and performers, the Laugh Boston ownership team noticed a dearth of stand-up venues in Boston in the mid-level range. While there are a few remaining clubs in the 100-150 capacity, there remains a gap with no mid-range club. Because of that gap, the comedy scene has suffered greatly. A good portion of national names, and certainly regional and local stars, do not have the ability to "sell" a larger theater. As a direct result of the gap in Boston's market, the performers are forced to work in other cities and industries, such as convention appearances and cruise ships.

There is an extremely strong market for matching incredible talent with mid-size audiences at a reasonable price point.

The new $800 million Convention Center opened in 2004 and is attracting an estimated 1.1 million conventioneers annually.  Thousands of new office workers and residents are adding to the mix in the Waterfront District. Manulife Financial's 500,000 sq ft U.S. Headquarters (now merged with John Hancock) building is next to the new Marriott Renaissance Hotel.  The one million sq ft Seaport East and West Office Towers are nearly 100% leased with Fidelity's World Headquarters as the anchor tenant. The 793-room Westin Hotel (plans are already in place for a 500-room expansion) has joined the Seaport Hotel and the new Marriott Renaissance to bring the total number of hotel rooms in the immediate area to over 1800.

With over 30 million square feet of proposed mixed-use development either open, under construction, or in the planning phases, the redevelopment of the Boston Seaport area is one of the largest urban developments in the country and the area is well on its way to becoming a vibrant 24-hour neighborhood.

The guys behind it all:

Chet Harding ~
A co-founder, CEO and Executive Producer of Improv Asylum, Chet has years of comedic acting, producing and directing experience as well as an extensive business background.  Under the Improv Asylum banner, Chet has produced and performed in hundreds of live shows as well as several film and television projects.  Prior to opening the comedy theater, he worked at Leo Burnett Advertising and Polaroid.  At Polaroid, he was their Director of North American Advertising and PR for four years, overseeing the company's national advertising, multi-million dollar media buying and planning, and PR.  At Leo Burnett, he worked in New Business Development, as well as on the Kellogg's account, including product development for new cereals.

Norm Laviolette ~
As co-founder, President and Executive Producer of Improv Asylum, Norm brings corporate as well as military experience toward the continued development and expansion of Improv Asylum's theatrical and business divisions.

As an actor, writer and producer, Norm has written and produced several renowned television pilots and feature scripts. He was Executive Producer of the Emmy-Nominated Improv Asylum's Vanity Project, as well as Executive Producer of Second City Boston, the hit musical You're A Good Man, Scott Brown and the cult classic All The Single Ladies.  Prior to a career in comedy, Norm worked for a marketing firm out of New York City promoting various Microsoft product launches. He is a former member of the Massachusetts and Vermont Army National Guard and a graduate of the Massachusetts Military Academy's Officer Candidate School.  Norm continues to lead Improv Asylum's strategic business and artistic vision locally, nationally and globally.

John Tobin ~
John was elected District 6 representative to the Boston City Council in 2001, and was re-elected 4 times. He left the City Council and began working at Northeastern University in August 2010 as the first Vice President of City & Community Affairs. In addition, Tobin has worked in the Boston comedy scene since 1992 when he started as a doorman at a local comedy club.  Today, Tobin owns Theatre District Productions, a live comedy production company that produces and operates shows at Nick's Comedy Stop in Boston.

For more information:

Today's Boston Globe ~

Today's Metro Boston ~

SOURCE Improv Asylum

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