What Travel Writers Say
Yukking it up in London© By Geoff Dale
Yuk Yuks has been tickling London's collective funny bone for years inside and outside its Southwestern Ontario boundaries. Now the Forest City's favourite entertainment night spot is casting an even wider net that includes connections with New York-based TV legend David Letterman.
The club boasts a storied history as London's comedy getaway for both locals and tourists eager for sidesplitting humour. It's also an integral member of the world's largest chain of comedy clubs and Canada's national stand-up comedy chain launched 32 years ago by Mark Breslin.
"Over the years London has seen some great comics like Jerry Seinfeld, Gilbert Gottfried, Bobcat Goldthwait, the late Sam Kinison, Howie Mandel (Deal or No Deal) and even Danny Bonaduce," says Connie Whiteway, affable co-owner of the club with husband Barry for the past year and a half.
"Last fall we were thrilled to hook up with Letterman's talent coordinator/scout for the Late Night show, Eddie Brill, with the goal of introducing new Canadian talent to the New York market. We attracted about 12 acts that night and they're now looking very seriously at a handful of these comics."
With the success of that venture, the Whiteways are busy gearing up for the second annual outing likely sometime in October. Meanwhile, the club ideally situated at the corner of York and Wellington Streets, has been drawing big laughs on a regular basis with its innovative New Faces of Comedy night and a host of shows that have introduced crowds to a diverse collection of Canadian talent.
While Connie cautions the humour is of the uncensored variety, she says Yuk Yuks nonetheless appeals to a wide demographic - drawing devoted fans from 15-years-old to those well into their 80's. She says that's proof positive that everyone loves a good laugh. What the crowd gets are fast-paced Fridays and Saturdays during the summer and an additional Thursday show in the fall.
The club is comfortably laid out with chairs and tables in a spacious downstairs surrounding centre stage and a second level to accommodate its overflow audiences. Whatever the seating arrangement, fans get an unobstructed bird's eye of the comics' antics.
While the rapid-fire comic entertainment is Yuk Yuks' main draw, audiences can also munch on snacks like popcorn or pizza, sip at their favourite drink while having their aforementioned funny bones tickled. On any given night - residents and tourists - hungry to cap off a hard week's work with a laugh-filled night - are treated to solid top notch monologues from some of the best comic talent in the country.
During one New Faces of Comedy outing, popular comedian/emcee Paul Smith warmed the crowd up with a sizzling opening set featuring a non-stop barrage of improv, keen observational wit, one-liners and zingers that had tables on both floors rocking with laughter. Locals and visitors were also treated to an impressive lineup with bright new faces like London's own Rob Browning and Doug Nagy from Welland.
"London is one of the top Yuk Yuks around," said Barry. "Last year's showcase of potential talent for Letterman's Late Show demonstrated just how good comedy is in this country. We're eager for this year's event."
As well as the warm reception from audiences over the past year and a half, Connie says the community as a whole has welcomed them with open arms. "I know some people who run a business don't always move into the community but we did," she adds. "It's been a great experience becoming part of the local scene, so living and working in London has been fantastic."
"London is a great spot for a comedy club and we've been delighted to introduce to our crowds Canadian comics - new and established - who are making their names in clubs, television, film and other venues throughout the comedy network."
Geoff Dale is a freelance writer/photographer based in Woodstock, Ontario. In addition to writing for several publications including The London Free Press, the Sentinel-Review, Better Farming and the Transcontinental Media chain of newspapers in Newfoundland, he also critiques plays at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for the Internet-based London Now. He has also written two books on the 50th anniversary of CAW Local 636 and the 100th anniversary of Execulink.
Of course, nightly entertainment in London doesn't stop there. Consider a sparkling and diverse lineup that includes:
~ World class dining and entertainment at The Honest Lawyer.
~ Vogue Saturdays with Retro Dance Trax at Downtown's Kathy Brown's.
~ The Mongolian Grill's relaxed and adventurous surroundings.
~ The sounds of exciting local bands at The Embassy.
~ Original live music featured at Call The Office.
~ Barking Frog's fine wines, exquisite food and relaxed atmosphere.
~ Nightly fun at Molly Bloom's Irish Pub.
~ Hip-hop to dance and R&B and much much more at the Thorny Devil.
~ Great musical times at GTs London.
~ From Elvis to beer memorabilia - the eclectic attractions of Joe Kool's.
~ DJ Kaos spinning Top 40 hits and club anthems on weekends at Jim Bob Ray's.
~ The Club Mansion's spectacular 12,000 square foot lounge.
~ VIP treatment and the inviting atmosphere of the popular 29 Park.
Check these and other night life attractions at: