Thursday Night at SteelStacks: Improv Comedy Power Hour

On Thursday evening, I had the opportunity to attend Improv Comedy Power Hour at SteelStacks. Rather than spending a typical Thursday night at Lehigh attending various house parties on 5th Street, my roommate and I decided to spend the evening out in South Bethlehem. Since Broadway Social offers a great happy hour deal on Thursday evenings, we made the decision to eat there for dinner before the show. Not only do they have happy hour specials on drinks, but Thursday evenings Broadway Social also offers buy one get one free burger specials. For college students on a relatively tight budget, this was a great deal for my roommate and myself. After dinner, since the comedy show did not start until 10pm, we had a little extra time and decided to make a stop at Molly’s Irish Pub and Grill to catch the end of the Philadelphia Flyers vs. Washington Capitals game on television; by making this stop at Molly’s it also broke up the walk and made it seem not as far from Broadway Social to ArtsQuest.

After the game finished around 9:30pm, we headed down to SteelStacks where we arrived a little early for the show. However, rather than having to sit around waiting for the doors to open, we were pleasantly surprised to find that local artists were playing live music in the common area of the building, also known as TD Community Stage. It was simple yet effective, creating a nice ambiance for people to grab a table and sit and enjoy prior to the show.

Despite being a senior at Lehigh and having lived in South Bethlehem for almost four years now, the ArtsQuest and SteelStacks experience is still somewhat foreign to me and I was pleased with the enjoyment of my experience there on Thursday night. Regretfully, this was only the third time I have made my way down to the ArtsQuest campus during my four years at Lehigh. It was earlier this semester, when our entrepreneurship class spent an afternoon at ArtsQuest meeting with Jon Lunger and Ryan Hill that I first learned about their comedy shows. In addition to Improv Comedy Power Hour, they offer Two Laugh Minimum and ManDudeBro, among others. When deciding what comedy show to attend, it really came down to the convenience of time that led to my decision to attend Improv Comedy Power Hour over the others. However, based on how much of a good time I had last night, I am already planning to bring my girlfriend to one of the comedy showings next week. Not only is SteelStacks a great place to go with friends/ roommates, but it also a great place for a date night as well.

Through our class discussion with Jon Lunger and Ryan Hill earlier this semester, we had the opportunity to discuss some of the details of the SteelStacks business model and their operations. It became clear that they have found it to be difficult to attract Lehigh students to the point that it is not worth their money to try and get students to attend their various shows and events. While my roommate and I found it to be no problem at all, and actually somewhat enjoyable walking the Southside of Bethlehem on a warm night like Thursday was, the reality is that the majority of college students are lazy. With that concept in mind, I believe that ArtsQuest would find a lot more success in attracting Lehigh Students if they offered a shuttle service from campus (i.e. Taylor Gym) to ArtsQuest. There is no doubt that there is demand on campus for alternative late-night activities other than partying and this is a great option that is severely underutilized in my opinion.

As it relates to the show itself, I had some good laughs and found the cast to be weird, hysterical, witty and thoroughly entertaining all at the same time. I have been to several comedy shows, but never been to an improv show before. It really is amazing how quickly these comics can think on their feet and come up with hilarious plot lines on the spot. The show was split into two, thirty-minute segments each performed by resident comedy teams made up of six or seven people. Tickets were just $5, which I felt was very inexpensive for an hour-long show. The stand up comedy shows that I have been to back at home in California were in the $15-30 range, so I was pleased with the affordability of the show. Despite only costing just $5, I was disappointed with the level of attendance for the show. In a relatively small theatre, the entire audience only filled up two rows. I was even more shocked after the introduction, when I realized the entire first row was made up of the cast of the two comedy teams performing. It made the audience feel empty when the first row became vacated once the show began as the comics took the stage, leaving the audience to comprise of only the second row. It is possible to attribute the lack of attendance to the fact that it was 10pm on a Thursday night, but regardless I am curious to attend another comedy show and compare the experiences, not just from an attendance perspective, but also from an overall comedy experience as well.