New name and new laughs at old Comedy Caravan - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

New name and new laughs at old Comedy Caravan

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In its history, it was a big stepping stone for up and coming stars. Now, new owners are investing $100,000 and hiring about 15 new employees with the promise of renewed excitement for live comedy in the River City.

With something old and new in the name, the club will be called The Laughing Derby at the Comedy Caravan.

Bit by comedy bit a Louisville legend in laughs is getting a facelift. Remember the Comedy Caravan's old bar? It's history. Rich Ragains took that bar apart, but he's not on the construction crew, he's on the marquee.

Ragains is one of dozens of Louisville comedians rolling up their sleeves during the day to jump start the renovation.

"I'm pretty handy with bars and with tools," Ragains laughed, "Everybody is pitching in we had 50 comics come out here and comics don't do that," he said. "They don't know the difference between a screw driver and a job!"

Ragains and the comedians taking the stage with him the opening week of the new ownership are pumped about new life and old blood moving back in. That's because the guys behind it aren't just the money, they're the funny.

Well known comedians and owners Steve Hofstetter, Chris Bowers, Jamie Utley and Tony Deardorff want to bring the club back to it's glory days - a time when performers had great sets in Louisville's comedy scene like Jay Leno and Sinbad did, their stars kept rising. In the 1980's, the very first show in the building had Steve Harvey introducing Heywood Banks. Their idea is to bring in today's big names.

Customer Debbie Moorhead said of coming acts like Chelsea Lately's Ben Gleib, "To get folks of that caliber here, it would be something I would do often."

The owners also want to showcase Louisville comedians and fresh talent.

"People that are right on the edge of blowing up," explained Utley. And visitors won't just see new décor, they can eat with a full kitchen ready to go and a much bigger full service bar. Utley said, "The community is very excited and I'm getting stopped everywhere by people wanting to know about The Laughing Derby."

Louisville's rich comedy history began at Shirley's, a popular club that was at Mall St. Matthews above JC Penny. The Laughing Derby owners ask customers to be patient with the renovation process, that will also include a new sound system, and take several months.

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