| Rants |

Chuckle-Worthy Chow at Laffing Matterz in Broward

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Knock knock.
Who's there?

Juwanna who?
Juwanna see what I ate last night?

Don't be alarmed; I'm not going to show you shots of me upchucking food. It's just my paltry attempt at humor in honor of a recent date to Laffing Matterz in Fort Lauderdale. Since I had never experienced the dinner theater in its former home on Andrews Avenue, I was curious about what to expect from its new home in the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. How talented were the performers? Is the show kept relevant? And most of all, I wondered, would eating a meal there make me and my man laugh or cry?

In a desperate attempt to answer these pressing questions, I roped my unsuspecting, totally exhausted boyfriend into taking me to a Friday-night performance. We arrived a bit late, but it didn't seem to frazzle our server Kim, whom, we suspected, was a

performer, since she had a microphone taped to her face.

Tickets usually cost folks $63 for Friday nights and late Sunday afternoon performances and $68 for Saturday nights (excepting the New Year's Eve show, which will cost $125 per person), so we aimed to determine whether folks would be getting their money's worth. (And, of course, it was the perfect opportunity to see if my new love was capable of spitting soda out of his nostrils if he started laughing too hard. I always find that so sexy in a man.)

Those admission prices may seem rather high, but consider that they include the two-hour show, plus abread, salad, and an entrée. Other local comedy venues, like the Improv at CityPlace and Seminole Paradise, typically ask up to $30 per ticket to watch a recognizable headlining comedian do his or her bit and require a two-drink minimum of the audience members. That policy certainly doesn't invite recovering alcoholics, designated drivers, or teetotalers, since their bottles of water sometimes cost nearly as much as their neighbors' margaritas and mudslides. 

Anyhow, let's get back to Laffing Matterz. Overall my beau and I found the show very entertaining and the performers genuinely talented. [Spoiler alert!] Topics ran from the expected -- stabs at various politicians, etc. -- to plays on puns and even a rip on folks with bad grammar (my personal favorite). And we especially got a chuckle out of a skit involving a swine flu rap and a parody of an American gal receiving tech support from overseas. It already kinda weirded me out knowing that my beloved and I had many things in common, but to find that he has the same sick sense of humor I do was really enlightening.

But one part of the evening, unfortunately, was truly laughable: our meal. The "chef's special orange butter" was apparently not a punchline. My salad drowned in a thick, pink, vinegary dressing, with soggy lettuce that made my boyfriend comment, "Do ya think the chef ran this over in the parking lot for effect?" 

And a flavorless beef tenderloin came with a small pool of port wine demi-glace and potatoes made, I'm guessing, by the Pillsbury Doughboy.

I thought perhaps my date and I just ordered wrong, but the three other gals at our table returned their meals to the kitchen and never received replacements. Strange.

Laughing Matterz will entertain you and your partner, and it's arguably worth the money for three hours of entertainment and eats, but be sure to come for the funnies, not the food. Also consider this priceless tidbit: Since the show doesn't require crowd participation, there's no chance you'll get pulled up on stage and hypnotized until you perform the chicken dance. 

Yeah, like that's never happened to you.

Laffing Matterz is being performed at in the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave.) in Fort Lauderdale.
Call 954-462-0222 for tickets, or visit laffingmatterz.com.

Freelance writer Riki Altman eats everything that won't try to eat her first (with exceptions, of course) and dates younger men, older men, and older men who act like young men, along with locals, tourists, illegal aliens, and just plain aliens. Love Bites is a compilation of what happens when her dining and dating ordeals collide. Sometimes, it just ain't pretty.

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