New comedy theater opens in black box space

The Good Good Comedy Theatre sold out its opening night and featured prominent comics from across the city on Oct. 14. The theater is on 11th and Race Streets. BRIDGET O'HARA FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

What used to be an empty storage space on 11th Street near Race is now a black box theater — an empty space, painted black, allowing attention to be totally on the performers.

Good Good Comedy Theatre officially opened on Friday with a sold-out performance appropriately named “The First Show.”

Aaron Nevins and Kate Banford, the co-founders of the club, said they originally created a comedy festival, Five Dollar Comedy Week, in August 2014. During the week-long festival, the duo performed a series of comedy shows, which turned into the formation of Good Good Comedy group.

Over the course of a year, the group went from producing comedy shows once a week to producing 30-40 shows a month. The theater expects to host about 90 shows per month.

“We are both excited and relieved that this comedy club is finally opening because it’s been about a year in the making,” Nevins said. “The process of opening a business is a much more longer and drawn out process than anybody could ever anticipate.”

Local comedian Julia Celley performs during Good Good Comedy Theatre’s sold-out opening night on Oct. 14. BRIDGET O'HARA FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS
Local comedian Julia Celley performs during Good Good Comedy Theatre’s sold-out opening night on Oct. 14. BRIDGET O’HARA FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

The sold-out show on Friday night featured more than 40 comedians from all over Philadelphia, including sketch artists and stand-up comedians. Each act featured a comedian performing a “first” at the Good Good Comedy Theatre, like being the first to eat dinner onstage.

Prior to the start of the show, a line of people waiting to enter the comedy club stretched down the street and around the corner.

“They were able to cultivate this huge audience at these weird spaces all over town that weren’t official,” said Drew Castellano, a comedian who performed Friday. “Now that there’s a dedicated space, it’s really awesome.”

Good Good Comedy signed a lease for an empty building in Chinatown in December 2015.

“It’s in the middle of everything,” Banford said. “It’s in a popular area. We are near almost everything, including both the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines, which will bring us a lot of good business.”

Banford said she and Nevins want to “create comedy that appeals to all types of people.”

They also want the theater to be a tool to engage Philadelphia with comedy. They plan to offer regular comedy and performance classes at the club.

Alex Grubard, a 2016 English alumnus who has been working with Good Good Comedy since the group formed, said the club will “take all the resources that Philadelphia has to offer and increase them exponentially.”

“It will give a platform for comedians you’ve never heard of before,” Grubard added. “There will be a number of comedians working in this comedy club in a few years [that] will be huge. Mark my words.”

Nevins said the addition of Good Good Comedy Theatre will be a huge boost to the underground Philadelphia comedy scene.

“I feel that Philadelphia is in need of more smaller stages like this one,” Nevins said. “This is a really intimate black box theater, and I feel that it expands the opportunity to perform and get ideas out there that wouldn’t be able to get put out anywhere else.”

Reggie Ruff can be reached at

Bridget O’Hara contributed reporting.

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