Old Mill Playhouse to debut comedy club

Norm Stulz, of the Village of Amelia, rehearses his comedy routine on the Lazy Mac’s Laughs Comedy Club stage. The new venue is located inside the Old Mill Playhouse in Lake Sumter Landing.

When Spencer Novak surveyed the lobby space of Old Mill Playhouse, it looked to him like a space with potential. That potential will be realized Tuesday when the venue unveils the new Lazy Mac’s Laughs comedy club, the first of its kind in The Villages. “The idea is to make Old Mill Theater a multi-event venue,” said Novak, the executive director of hospitality for The Villages. “What better way to do that than add some laughter to The Villages consistently?” Beginning Tuesday, the venue will host stand-up comedy acts every Tuesday and Wednesday evening in the converted lobby space, complete with the addition of drapes that blend with the existing curtains, a state-of-the-art PA system, stage lighting, spotlight and a stage and riser which can be moved on non-show days to clear a path for the movie theater.

The inaugural Lazy Mac’s Laughs show follows the reopening last month of the revamped Lazy Mac’s Taco Shack and Tequila Bar, also inside the venue, and of one movie theater auditorium.

“We paid a lot of attention to the details of other comedy clubs like The Comedy Store in LA and The Second City,” Novak said. “We even made sure we have small candles on the tables and the standard prop of a stool and a glass of water on stage for the comics. It is quite a transformation and looks like it has always been a comedy club when the lights go down.”

First up is veteran comedian Norm Stulz, who will perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Stulz has appeared on HBO, Comedy Central, ABC, NBC and A&E’s “An Evening at the Improv.”As the regional winner and second-place winner of the national Johnny Walker Comedy Competition, he also appeared on CBS’s “48 Hours” with Erin Moriarty and a Showtime comedy special.

“Michigan’s Premier Storyteller,” Stulz’s style is long-form comedy. The Village of Amelia resident also will throw in some Villages humor (think golf carts and roundabouts).

“It’s an honor to be invited to do a grand opening of any stage,” Stulz said. “Throughout my career I’ve done numerous grand openings where they want that first show to be one that people walk out and say, ‘man, you have got to go do this for a fun night.’ So it’s an honor to be chosen out of the millions of entertainers out of work right now because of the pandemic.”

Next week, D.C.-based comedian Matt Bergman will perform at 8 p.m. March 16 and 17.

Bergman made his TV debut on AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live and his debut CD “A Little Bit Balder Now” made #15 on the iTunes comedy charts in 2014. He performed on the Comedy Central live tour in 2016 and his Dry Bar Comedy special in Utah was released online last year.

Bergman tells true-to-life stories and he will include some recent stories about life during the pandemic.

Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.thevillages.com, at any Villages Box Office location or by calling the Remote Box Office at 352-753-3229.  For further information, visit lazymacs.com.

Tickets start at $15 plus a two-item minimum purchase per person off the food and beverage menu. An 18% gratuity will be added to all checks. Food service will end a half-hour before shows and cocktail service will be available during the show, according to the Lazy Mac’s website.

Patrons are asked to have a copy of their ticket on hand upon entry.

Shows will take place at 8 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday and doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Guests should plan to arrive one hour before shows start. Groups must arrive together, as seating is first-come, first-served. Seating is limited and tables cannot be moved, according to the Lazy Mac’s website.

Capacity will be limited to about 85 seats. Masks are recommended at all times except while dining, and patrons are also asked to keep 6 feet between themselves and others.

All shows are 21 and up and a government ID is required for entry.  

To Brian Russo, executive director of entertainment for The Villages, the Lazy Mac’s Laughs concept is an original one in The Villages.

“An actual comedy club atmosphere is something I haven’t seen in my 10 plus years here and I’m thrilled to see it launching,” Russo said. “A comedy club is something I’ve wanted to see for a long time, and seeing it come to fruition, especially at a time when people really need to be able to laugh is phenomenal.”

Staff Writer Liz Coughlin can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or liz.coughlin@thevillagesmedia.com.