Rendering by New City Design Group

Not the Last Laugh

In Buzz, Feature Stories, May 2022 by Melissa Howsam2 Comments

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Goodnights may be moving—but it isn’t going anywhere.

The news of Goodnights Comedy Club’s closing resonated about as loudly as the Will Smith Oscars slap heard ’round the world. But if all goes according to plan, the curtain will never go down on Goodnights. In a sit-down interview with Raleigh Magazine, co-owner Brad Grossman revealed plans for the legendary laugh house’s new home—beginning temporarily in the now-defunct K&W Cafeteria space, and then moving permanently beneath Bargain Box as it resurrects the once bustling nightlife scene that was Underground Cameron Village—which was part of the appeal. “This was a big deciding factor when we chose Village District,” said Grossman, of family-owned and -operated Helium, who bought the comedy club in 2013. “I wanted to be close to Downtown, and I think being close to where the action was in the past is a nice throwback to that time”—and to bring life back to that area at night.

After first taking stage in K&W for 16 to 20 weeks (post permit approval—and nod to potential supply chain hiccups), Goodnights will take its new permanent position under what will now be—wait for it—instead of Bargain Box, a wraparound Shake Shack. Nestled beneath the uber-popular fast-casual spot will be about 11,000 square feet, with intentional low ceilings—and capped to hold 300 to 325 guests to maximize the comedy experience (for context, the OG space holds about 250). “You’ll feel intimate in the new space,” said Grossman. “The low ceilings will be a little bit lower than you experience them now—that’s what makes comedy work. We sit next to one another and you feel the vibration of the person next to you. It’s really a perfect environment.” By design, Helium is known for bringing local and stadium-size talent to intimate spaces. “We definitely go for vibe, and a lot of the touch points are important to us—the smells, the tastes, what you hear, what you see,” he said. 

Goodnights will temporarily move to the closed K&W in Village District. (ITB Insider)
Formerly Bargain Box, the new permanent location for Goodnights Comedy Club. (News & Observer)

The nearly 40-year-old local comedy juggernaut that has woven itself into the very fabric of Raleigh’s identity—hosting everyone from hordes of local rising talents to the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and Chris Rock—no doubt holds an iconic place in Raleigh’s comedy and nightlife scene. And as the lights go dark on Morgan Street for the final time at the end of July, Goodnights will turn the page to its future in the Village District—and pay homage to its history with specific design elements (think brick and a nod to the green room). “I have a love for the history of [Goodnights],” said Grossman, who takes both its past and future very personally. “Being in that old building, I’m very sensitive to it. It’s so important to the fabric of the business. While it’s sad, it’s also exciting at the same time when you get to build a club in the way that you think comedy should be experienced.” But this is bigger than a hallowed building and the big names who’ve passed through since its 1983 premiere. Now, at a time when the world is in peril and strife, comedy is more important than ever. “As emotional and sensitive as our country has been, I think comics are the ones who are gonna bring it back together,” said Grossman. “Comics are the ones who make us laugh at ourselves.” … So thankfully it’s not goodnight. goodnightscomedy.com


One of the most iconic aspects—and one of Grossman’s favorite components—of the OG Goodnights building is its original green room, situated in a removed elevator shaft with just a small couch and a little chair—and about 1,000 comedian signatures adorning the walls. “It’s a piece of art,” said Grossman. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to take that shaft. … I’m not sure I’m gonna be able to take it with me physically, but my plan is to get a photographer in there and do a 360 of it and then bring it to the space. There’s a lot of history in that green room.”

GHOSTLY TALES

“I’ve had a few managers there who don’t like to lock up on their own because they’ve heard noises. They have a video of a glass flying across the bar and there’s no one around. It’s pretty nuts. My team even has a name for her. We’re thinking about doing maybe a little seance, you know, burning some sage before we leave just to let her know, like, hey you’re gonna be fine—you should stay with the building.” 

Ghost name: Esther


Listen for more behind-the-scenes conversations on how Raleigh Magazine got the scoop!

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Comments

  1. The Bargain Box location does NOT have an accessible entrance. If it does, it is hidden. So are owners going to do to accommodate those who can’t take those stairs and who need accessible seating?

  2. Pingback: Weekend Reading: Not the Last Laugh – Raleigh Weekend

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