Fluent in Funny
With his reach into the comedy scene, Roy Johnson is able to bring top-shelf comics to the Loony Bin that go well with the new, refreshed club atmosphere.
Need a laugh? These days, who doesn’t, right? But where do you go to find some laughter, great deals on food and drinks, and superbly affordable entertainment — all on the south side of Tulsa? Trust us, you don’t have to restrict yourself to downtown — not when you check out the comic genius on display at the new and improved, zestfully funny Loony Bin in south Tulsa.
Before taking over management at the Loony Bin in Tulsa in 2017, club manager Roy Johnson traveled the U.S. as a standup comedian, so he not only knows what it’s like to be funny onstage; he also knows a lot of men and women who, like him, are working hard to bring laughter to crowds at venues just like the Loony Bin.
“Since I’ve taken over this location, I’ve worked to bring new acts in,” says Johnson. “I make sure I go out and get quality, professional comedians. There’s a lot of them out there whose names you don’t know. I was one of them for 15 years. I can go out and find them and bring them here.”
With his reach into the comedy scene, Johnson is able to bring top-shelf comics to the Loony Bin that go well with the new, refreshed club atmosphere. Visitors can expect to see and laugh along with well-known comedians who might not otherwise stop in Tulsa or appear at such an intimate venue.
“We had Bill Bellamy in here for a few shows,” says Johnson. “And I called an old friend, Jake Johannsen, who is arguably one of the funniest people on the planet. He agreed to come here.” Bellamy has appeared in multiple movies, Def Comedy Jam, and served as the host of seasons 5 and 6 of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Among Johannsen’s credits are appearances on HBO, Comedy Central, PBS, and multiple appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman.
“I’m trying to raise the bar as far as the comedians who come here,” Johnson says. While he can’t compete with the BOK Center or the casinos, the Loony Bin has something those venues don’t — the intimate, edgy, slightly subversive feel of a true comedy club, where you can catch both nationally known performers as well as up-and-comers who may very well become the next Bellamy or Johannsen.
And the whole feel of the club is being upgraded as Johnson looks for ways to enhance the experience of those who come for a show. “When Bill Belamy was here, he was like, ‘This is one of the nicer clubs in the country,’” says Johnson. “In the last year, we’ve reinvested a lot into making this place nice and modern.” That means new and improved seating, TV screens on the walls, Facebook comedy shows including The Bin and a show about Tulsa called 411 on the 918. They also have a new menu that offers a lot more options.
“We have full wine, beer, liquor, and food,” Johnson says. “We now have wraps, because people wanted vegetarian options. We have hummus now. Of course, we do our fried stuff too. Wednesday night is all-you-can-eat Wing Therapy night, and it’s $2 chuckle night, so you pay $2 to get in, then $16.95 for all the wings you can eat, and that’s a hell of a deal. Thursday is Ladies Night — ladies get in free.”
In terms of drinks, you can enjoy deals on beer and wine, as well as specialty drinks unique to the Loony Bin. “We’re known for our Lobotomies — which is served in a 32-ounce pitcher.” It’s made with vodka, rum, gin, tequila, cranberry, Sprite and Grenadine.
“The new thing we have is the adult Capri Suns.” They come in red and purple. “If you don’t think red and purple are flavors, then the child inside you is dead,” jokes Johnson. They’re also strong, he warns. If you plan on drinking them, he suggests having a designated driver or hiring an Uber or Lyft ahead of time.
“I want people to feel like, no matter who’s here, they can come out and have a great date night,” says Johnson. “And I’m trying to be the flag bearer for south Tulsa. People in south Tulsa want to hang out close to their home, where it’s cheaper to Uber home. They want a nice date night with their husband or wife, and they want to have a good time without having to worry about finding parking.”
Of course, if you want a taste of what it’s like to get up onstage yourself, you might want to take a six-week course in comedy from Johnson. He holds classes for adults as well as for children a few times a year, and he says it’s a great way to help people become comfortable speaking in public and sharing their ideas.
“I love comedy. It’s the purest form of art,” he says. “There’s no medium between you and the audience. It’s just your words, an audience, you’re expressing something and getting a direct reaction back. And I love it. That’s why I teach the class here.” Details and signup options are found at befunnytulsa.com.
The Loony Bin is open Wednesdays through Sundays. It’s age 18 and up to get in, 21 and up to drink. Performers and showtimes are available on the website, and group rates are available too.
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