As Coconuts Comedy Club turns 30, comics who started there look back and laugh
Walls at Coconuts Comedy Club in St. Pete Beach are lined with photographs of successful comedians who worked there: Billy Gardell, Larry the Cable Guy, Saturday Night Live's Jim Breuer.
Many were just starting out when owner Bob Shoemaker boosted them to headliner status, what he then called a "K-mart of comedy" approach.
"As long as you were funny, (Shoemaker) didn't give you any grief," said Danny Bevins, a Coconuts favorite since 1996. "Bob was just like, 'Get up there, do what you do, and you're not going to be beaten up for it if it doesn't go well every time.' Because of that, it became a place the guys loved."
"I've got a real soft spot for Coconuts," Mike & Molly star Billy Gardell said by telephone from Los Angeles. "Starting out in Florida, that place was vital, man."
Coconuts celebrates its 30th anniversary with Chris Barnes, Bevins and Helen Keaney at 9:30 p.m. Friday and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the club, 5501 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Tickets are $25. Click here.
Click here for Steve Persall's full story about Coconuts' 30th anniversary.