Funny Business

The Hollywood Boulevard Theatre building will be coming down by the end of the summer, and the news has sent South Florida's brightest comedy troupes into a nomadic quest for a new home. After all, they won't be welcome at HBT's new location.

"It had been three years, and they just weren't making a profit," says Jerry Waxman, executive director of the theater. "We told them in February they had until April."

If the comedy crews weren't bringing in the crowds, it wasn't for the performers' lack of imagination or energy. The newly homeless Punch 59 and Dagmar dot COMedy, the two 13-member sketch troupes once based at the theater, build their respective acts upon parodies of local politicians, social issues, sex, and religion via songs, outlandish costumes, blackouts, and scripted jokes through a fervent pace of more than 15 skits packed into 90-minute shows with no intermission.

"The creative spark, interaction, and the feedback from our audiences make our work exciting," says Jennifer Ruane, the director of the Dagmar dot COMedy troupe. Ruane's troupe is named for member Dagmar Bergin, a Mama Cass clone with a biting sense of humor and a powerful singing voice. At a recent rehearsal, Bergin's performance of her songs "He Blows" and "America Online" were hilarious.

Punch 59 begins its string of weekly performances April 13 at the Starmakers Family Theater in Boca Raton. Dagmar dot COMedy keeps the music and laughs going with a performance at Hooligan's Lounge Saturday, April 21. After that, who can say where the newly homeless comedians will turn up next? Wherever it is, it won't be the new Hollywood Boulevard Theatre.

"Here in downtown Hollywood, late-night theater stuff just doesn't sell," Waxman says. "People would rather drink. If we had a liquor license, we'd pack 'em in."

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Marvin Glassman