Michael Edlavitch opened Royal Comedy Theatre on Mainstreet in Hopkins in May 2016. Comedy clubs are usually found in urban settings, but Edlavitch wanted to bring standup to the suburbs. He was hoping to create the kind of place that he himself wanted to frequent.
“I wanted a place I could go to see standup without going into Minneapolis,” he says. “I was tired of having to fight traffic and find parking and just deal with all that.”
The St. Louis Park native has been interested in comedy since he worked as a standup comedian for a couple of years in the early 2000s. From his time on the scene, he had contacts with some Minneapolis comedians, and he knows a lot of comedians in the area.
“I really like the Hopkins Mainstreet,” Edlavitch says. “So when the building at 809 Mainstreet became available, I bought it.”
Royal Comedy Theatre has 50 seats arranged around small tables and a full bar. It’s a small space, and that’s one of things Edlavitch likes about it. “You get to see big names in a smaller room,” he says. Recent shows have included Mitch Fatel and Jenny Zigrino, a Minneapolis-born comedian who tours nationally. This month Shuli Egar, who is well known for his work on the Howard Stern show, will perform November 16 through 18.
He doesn’t have trouble booking a full schedule of performers every month, because the comedians who have worked there like it. They tell other performers, and that word-of-mouth promotion has comics coming to Hopkins. Edlavitch also wants Royal Comedy to be known for a diverse lineup. He makes an effort to reach out to nontraditional performers and wants to get a reputation for being open to booking a real cross-section of funny people.
Getting Royal Comedy Theatre open and raising awareness of the little club in Hopkins, among both comics and audiences, has taken time and effort. “There have been challenges,” he says. “The hardest part is just having people find out you exist.” He says the location has been really helpful for bringing in new audience members. “That corner is a hotspot for new and interesting restaurants and businesses.” Being on Mainstreet gives Royal Comedy visibility. It also means that you can have dinner and see a show without getting in your car to drive from place to place.
Edlavitch says he isn’t interested in making Royal Comedy bigger. If he has to, he can work the club without help and he’d like to keep it that way. He also owns an online company called Hooda Math, a successful educational game site, which is his main source of income. He has a clear priority for the future of Royal Comedy Theatre: He wants to continue to enjoy they experience. “I’m doing it for fun,” he says.
Shows are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. (Ages 21 and up.)