Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

May 25, 2014

Kokomo-bred comic Mike Gardner getting ready to open Laugh House

Kokomo-bred comic Mike Gardner getting ready to open Laugh House

When the Laugh House opens June 12, it’s going to be an event.

When wildman hillbilly comic Donnie Baker, of Bob & Tom Show fame, arrives the following weekend, it’s going to be more of a festival.

And when Steve-O, of “Jackass” fame, comes to town on the final weekend of the month, well, no one’s sure what’s going to happen.

Laugh House owner Mike Gardner hopes starting his new venture at 113 E. Sycamore St. with three weekends of raucous comedy will sell the north central Indiana area on Kokomo’s newest club, a combination bar, pizzeria and live comedy showcase.

When it opens, it will be the fourth downtown night spot in the city’s riverfront area, joining the Fox’s Trail, Cook McDougal’s Irish bar and Drake’s. It’s not quite Broad Ripple, but it is definitely showing signs of becoming a bar district.

In the front of Gardner’s place, there will be a craft beer/bar he’s calling Hopology (pronounced “Hop-ology”), where he’ll also serve New York-style pizza by the pie and the slice. Downstairs, he’s got what he’s calling, for now, a “cigar bar” — all stonework and architectural salvage wooden beams, courtesy of the Scott Pitcher school of design.

Both tap rooms have impressive bars, dark polished wood and dark quartz bar tops, and Gardner promises to have a lengthy selection of Indiana breweries represented on tap, from Three Floyds to Sun King and others.

But the back room is Gardner’s passion, a stage surrounded by enough chairs and tables to seat an audience of 200.

“It should seat 200; I have to get 200 or I can’t get any big names coming in,” he said.

Gardner’s a stand-up comedian himself, and counts 46 states and four countries among the places he’s performed since leaving his hometown to pursue his dreams.

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