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Lew Fitz hopes to elicit fits of laughter.
Lew Fitz hopes to elicit fits of laughter.
Photo by Stephanie Meyer Senior / Courtesy of Lew Fitz

The Best Comedy Nights in South Florida

Lew Fitz grew up in a rough area of Manchester, England, and couldn't wait to get away. He earned a lacrosse scholarship and took it to the University of Florida. The 23-year-old brought his dark, British comedic sensibilities with him.

"I think that guide dogs look at other dogs the way Republicans look at immigrants," he says. " 'Get a job.' "

The Brit explains that he first attempted standup in open-mic nights during college — "but I wrote for a year before ever getting onstage. Then when I graduated and moved down to Boca from UF, I started hitting the open mics hard pretty much every day." Two years later, he's the host of a running comedy night dubbed "Spill the Beans" on the third Saturday of each month at the Undergrounds Coffeehaus in Oakland Park.

Fitz, fresh-faced and friendly, opens the show talking about his childhood good-naturedly. He loves to tease the audience in the intimate venue, which fits 40 or 50 people around a small stage.

A recent show included six comics diverse in age, race, and gender. Young, dark-haired David Martin cracked on the coffeehouse comedy setup and mentioned that no one was going to drink coffee and go home and write a book.

The audience loved the easygoing Reginald Dejardins and rewarded him with some appreciative laughs when he said, "Miami has three kinds of people: coke dealers, lawyers, and club owners." Manny Garavito took a good-natured swipe at tourists, saying, "They wear too much suntan lotion and then roll around in the sand. They look like they're breaded!" Pam Bruno, the only female, age 65, poked fun at the pros and cons of hitting retirement age.

The audience alternately laughed out loud, talked back, or politely let the comedians know their joke fell flat. Fitz's next show is Saturday. The lineup includes Fitz, Mike Atcherson, Matt Bellak, and Trey Maddox.

"The comedy scene in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm is growing," Fitz says optimistically. He notes that a fair number of comics from here have moved on to bigger scenes in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and, surprisingly, Denver. Here, "you can get onstage every night, but you have to be willing to drive."

He listed ten other comedy nights around South Florida:

In Boca Raton, at the Funky Buddha Brewery (open-mic every Wednesday) and Holloways Irish Pub (every Thursday). In Deerfield Beach, at American Rock Bar on Saturdays.

The others are in Miami: On Thursdays, there's comedy at both Taurus in Coconut Grove and at Artistic Vibes, in a nondescript warehouse in the Falls area of Miami. Every second and fourth Tuesday, there's comedy at Elwoods gastropub downtown. And a venue called Speakfridays, on 32nd Street, also has a cool open mic.

"A friend of mine called Paul Julmeus is running a few shows down in Miami," Fitz says, "at Wynwood Brewery on Thursdays, YoMama on Sundays in Little Haiti, and Gramps on Tuesdays in Wynwood." In addition to that, "a great guy called Alex Morizio runs a room [at hair salon] Junior and Hatter in Wynwood during art walk" every second Saturday.

And of course, there are the Improvs — part of a national chain that draws big-name comedians — in West Palm Beach, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, and in Miami. "There are some cool spots," Fitz insists. "You've just got to find them."

Fitz chooses comics to showcase "by just being in the rooms. Who is doing well? Who do you like? Who is saying something interesting or intriguing? Who deserves a nice weekend gig? I myself will generally ask people if they would like to do a spot if I've seen them working hard and have been doing consistent gigs for at least six months."

Open mics, he says, "are ten times harder because of the lack of audience members more than half the time. My rule of thumb is: If there are ten people or more in the crowd, then it's my fault if I can't make them laugh. Not that it's going to be a bad show if there are less than ten people, but it becomes more of a conversation than an actual show. You have to learn how to deal with anything and just keep working, keep writing.

"Comedy," he says, "it's something I always cared about. I love making people laugh. I have to do it. It's an urge, a drive."

"Spill the Beans" Comedy Night
8 p.m. Saturday, February 20 (and the third Saturday of each month), at Undergrounds Coffeehaus, 3020 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $5. Call 954-630-1900, or visit undergroundscoffeehaus.com.

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