Jokes and gin: The Canopy Club comedy night brings laughter to C-U community


Logan Hodson

The Canopy Club, located on Goodwin Avenue, hosts Open Mic Comedy night every Monday at 8:30 p.m..

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

As the sun set on Monday evening, twilight overshadowed the aftermath of another workday for students and staff alike. On Goodwin Avenue, a quiet ambiance dwelled over The Canopy Club whose entrance was lit up by radiant old-school letters — the sign atop read “Open Mic.”

Inside was an atmosphere of nightlife that was not numbed by the pandemic. For some, performing or attending a stand-up comedy routine at The Canopy Club has been a big part of Monday night entertainment. 

Daniel Thompson, junior in LAS, sat in the back corner of the venue with a nervous yet excited demeanor. The night was his first performance with stand-up comedy, and Thompson said he wanted to go all in. 

“I came here with some friends last week,” Thompson said. “I saw some guys performing and in the back of my mind, I was thinking, ‘I could do this.’” 

Thompson saw himself as a humorous person, as he can get a few laughs out of his friends. The idea of bringing his comedy to the stage drove Thompson to get his act together. 

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Thompson was not alone in his preparation. Across the floor in the other corner was Colin Kelly, senior in Engineering. Kelly had a notepad in hand minutes before the evening showcase. 

“I didn’t do anything before college, but once I was actually in college, I joined an improv team,” Kelly said. “Probably in my sophomore year, I started standup. I met a lot of cool people, and I have a fun time out. You learn a lot about comedy.” 

Meanwhile, Mikel Matthews, a longtime veteran of standup, studied notes with a drink in his hand. Matthews, a 46-year-old Champaign resident, became a staple of the Monday standup routine at The Canopy Club. He has been doing standup for around 10 years and is long past stage fright.

Matthews shared insight on how newcomers can take on standup comedy. 

“I’ve done improv and theater for many years,” Matthews said. “If you sign up, it kind of puts the thing that you have to do. I’m mixed about whether you should bring your friends for the first time, as you’ll never know how good you actually are until your friends aren’t there.” 

Despite sitting only a few blocks away from the Main Quad, events at The Canopy Club are open to the wider Champaign-Urbana community, an opportunity for all walks of life in Champaign to let it all out in comedic chaos. 

Jesse Tuttle runs the C-U Comedy group, which had its usual open mic shows on Monday evenings at The Canopy Club and featured other shows across bars and venues in the C-U area. 

“We have venues running all across central Illinois, and we’ve been going for 12 years now,” Tuttle said. “For my weekend shows, I have features and headliners performed at clubs all over the country. We’ve had performers from Last Comic Standing, Netflix and Comedy Central.” 

Mostly due to the pandemic, C-U Comedy didn’t have a strong student pool of comedians as of late. With the revitalization of The Canopy Club and other in-person events, the group’s numbers have grown. 

“We had some students, but unfortunately what happens with students is they graduate,” Tuttle said. “We had people who are now running their own shows in clubs in Chicago and Washington D.C. who started right here at (the University), and now they’re major headliners.”

Mia Ginocchi, junior in LAS, came to The Canopy Club with several of her friends after learning of the C-U Comedy nights via word of mouth. 

“I went for the first time last week, and I thought it was really really funny,” Ginocchi said. “It was kind of a nice thing for a Monday night, so we recruited some friends this time. It’s really cool and really open, and you can tell there’s a lot of first-timers. Last time, people were really open to it.”

Connor Burns, senior in Engineering, accompanied Ginocchi’s group and saw the experience as a needed break from the stress of campus. 

“It’s relaxing, a good laugh helps lighten the mood (and) makes the week a little bit easier,” Burns said. 

Ready for his call to the stage was Ryan Hays, a 33-year-old alumnus of the University, who had been a comedian in the Champaign area for a long time. Hays shared his positive experiences with the group and what he would advise to those interested in participating. 

“Just get up there, and also just have jokes, and practice them for a bit before you go up there,” Hays said. “But having the courage to go up there, that’s the biggest thing.” 


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