A Lifelong Love of Stand Up Comedy and the Comics That Made It Happen

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I LOVE to laugh and am a true fan of stand of comedy and have been since I could remember. One of my first experiences with stand-up comedy is seeing some of the greats in Cleveland, Ohio, where I grew up. There were three places at that time I started watching comedy. The first is the Cleveland Comedy Club which is now rubble under the Prudential Field (The Jake).  I saw Louie Anderson there. The other is Hilarities where I saw Jerry Seinfeld (the sock in the dryer bit still makes me laugh) before he made it big. Hilarities moved to West Fourth to an alley that once had Aaron Sanchez and Michael Simon as neighbors. It’s now Pickwick and Frolic.  There I saw I met John Pinette and also saw David Allen Grier.  There is also the Improv Club in the Flats.  I saw Rita Rudner and Paula Poundstone at that club.  I have some greats, some goods and some bad.

When I became a mom, a lot of the stand-up I was able to catch was on TV.  We would watch Comedy Channel and An Evening at the Improv with Budd Friedman.  I was introduced to a myriad of comedians and styles.  I enjoyed comics like Bobby Collins, George Lopez, and Bobby Slayton.  Later on, I was able to catch comics on Netflix, YouTube, and Facebook.  Some that I enjoy are Sebastian Maniscalco, Jo Koy, Gabriel Iglesias, and Bert Kreischer.  There is also one a friend of mine recommended a long time ago and that was Jeff Dunham.  At last but not least there is Whose Line Is It Anyway.  This doesn’t include the classics I grew up with like Tim Conway, Bob Newhart, and Cheech and Chong.

There are some clubs and shows that I have enjoyed along the way.  Yuk Yuks in Niagara Falls, Second City in Chicago, Improv in New York City, and Helium in Philadelphia are a few of the great old style comedy clubs defined by good comedy with a two watery drink minimum and cheap food.  We were able to catch Jeff Dunham in Charleston, West Virginia when the kids were old enough.  A throwback show was Cheech and Chong at Parx Casino fall of 2019.  I went with my SO and daughter.  Oh, to see Cheech in a pink tutu live….

A few years ago, Amanda and I went to Niagara Falls.  I had taken some time before starting a new position and spent some time with the kids.  Alex wasn’t keen on going so he stayed home and hung out with his friends.  Amanda was over 18 and we were able to go to some wineries and I introduced her to her first first comedy club, Yuk Yuks.  This place has been around for a very long time and I remember going there with my friend, Diane, back in the 80s.  Now, it is in a new location and just as good as I remember it.












Recently, my SO and I went to see Bill Engvall at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is a great theater with great prices.  First, you are in the opposite direction of Philly traffic with pretty much the same drive distance and free parking.  We had 4th row center tickets.  They cost me under $100 for both.  If you wanting to see a show in the Philly area, this is a great theater for the prices.

We saw him at the end of last June and I have to say that was one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. They were times I had tears in my eyes and couldn’t breathe. What struck me was how he would pause and say it was so good to hear laughter again. I couldn’t have agreed with him more. I walked out feeling such joy. Unfortunately, he is performing his final retirement tour.  If you get a chance, go see him while he is still touring.

An additional perk is that there are a lot of restaurant in the area.  I have not spent a lot of time looking through or going to restaurants in Lancaster, Pa.  The tradition is Pennsylvania Dutch Food.  If you are looking for that type of fare, I recommend Miller’s Smorgasbord in Ronks.   It’s 5 minutes down the road from the theatre.  The food is good and they have an apple pie that is loaded with nuts and other goodies that is excellent!  Another smorgasbord in that fine tradition is Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl.  Shady Maple is a half hour away, but worth the trip. This is by far one of the best buffets and they serve cocktails.  I highly recommend this place!  If you look for review on Shady Maple, you’ll find that they are highly rated.

There are other options in the way of chain restaurants.  If you are looking for some finer fare, there are options for that, too.  Since I am not too familiar with other dining establishments, I found a list of The 15 Top Fine Dining Restaurants in Lancaster, PA.  Here is what I found:

Belvedere Inn Restaurant and Bar | American
402 North Queen Street, Downtown Lancaster

For those seeking a warm and elegant atmosphere paired with award-winning American dishes, a reservation at the Belvedere Inn is in order. May we suggest starting off with their signature grilled Caesar salad, followed by an expertly prepared, seasonal entrée and of course – dessert!

Citronnelle | French
110 West Orange Street, Lancaster
When date night rolls around, this intimate BYOB restaurant will both surprise and delight. At Citronelle, they’re creating modern French dishes inspired by global flavors and made from local ingredients. On Wednesdays, they take diners around the world, designing a special menu centered on a far-off city or region.

The Log Cabin | American
11 Lehoy Forest Drive, Leola
Recently rejuvenated by new owners, the Log Cabin provides diners with flavorful food and tasty cocktails, all served in the warmth of a cabin that dates back to the 1920s. With a variety of steak and seafood options, there’s something for everyone.

Amorette | French
405 North Prince Street, Lancaster
For diners seeking an elegant, upscale experience, look no further than Amorette. Their sophisticated plates are inspired by French and Asian cuisine, and are crafted by the world-class chefs.
Lititz Springs Inn & Spa Restaurant | English
14 East Main Street, Lititz
If you find yourself in the mood for fine food while in Lititz, make the Lititz Springs Inn & Spa Restaurant your spot for dinner. Their menu features both casual and fine eats, inspired by English cuisine. It’s right next door to it’s sister restaurant, Bulls Head Public House, making for a great after-dinner drink stop.

LUCA | Italian
436 West James Street, Lancaster
Want to try Alton Brown’s favorite salad and dig into rustic Italian cuisine? Be sure to make your reservations at LUCA, celebrating the “Old Country” with pizza, handmade pastas and simple roasted meats made in their wood-burning hearth and Neapolitan oven.

Shot & Bottle | American
2 North Queen Street, Lancaster
New to the Lancaster’s dining scene, Shot and Bottle brought a large selection of PA’s finest spirits and market-fresh food to its central location in Penn Square. Both the food and cocktails are inspired by classic Lancaster cuisine with an upscale twist.

The Greenfield Restaurant | American
595 Greenfield Road, Lancaster
Since 1979, the Greenfield Restaurant has been pleasing diners with their fine dining menu, inspired by rich, classic American flavors. If you’re in the mood for jazz to pair with dinner, stop by on a Wednesday evening to catch live music.

Cork & Cap Restaurant | American
480 New Holland Ave, Lancaster
Located in the Cork Factory Hotel, Cork & Cap Restaurant is serving up classic and contemporary dishes inspired by fresh, local ingredients. With something for everyone, it’s a must-try in Lancaster for a date night, girl’s night out, or special occasion.

Bistro Barberet & Bakery | French
26 East King Street, Lancaster
Renowned Pastry Chef Cedric Barberet crafted the menu at Bistro Barberet to highlight classical French flavors with a modern twist. After a casually elegant meal, treat yourself to one of Chef Barberet’s almost-too-gorgeous-to-eat desserts.

Osteria Avanti | Italian
38 Deborah Drive, Leola
The essence of the Italian Countryside is brought to life at Osteria Avanti in Leola. Rustic Italian dishes can be paired a glass of wine from their award-winning wine list.

John J. Jeffries | Contemporary American
300 Harrisburg Avenue, Lancaster
Serving up seasonal, sustainable, and farm fresh dishes, this restaurant, located inside the Lancaster Arts Hotel, is a fine dining staple in Downtown Lancaster. Ingredients are responsibly sourced and beautifully prepared for a memorable meal.

Gibraltar Lancaster | Seafood
488 Royer Drive, Lancaster
If seafood is what you seek, consider making a reservation at Gibraltar. Their thoughtfully put together menu features sustainable seafood, raw bar, pasta, and a well-rounded wine selection.

Hunger n Thirst | American Gastropub
920 Landis Ave, Lancaster
Exceptional craft beer and fine food are a match made in heaven, especially at Hunger n Thirst. The relaxed, urban atmosphere allows guests to focus on the flavors of both the beverages andthe upscale gastropub bites.


On February 17th, Jo Koy played the Hershey Theater in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  I was able to get second row aisle seats stage right.  I prefer tickets closer to the stage, because at a certain point I feel that I can just watch it on TV.  This one the most beautiful local theatre I have seen.  The theatre was the brainchild of Milton Hershey, who built the town around his factory.  The theatre opened September 1933 as part of his Hershey’s Great Building Campaign of the Depression.  Hershey’s plan not only built the theatre but the Community Building, Hotel Hershey, Catherine Hall, Hershey Headquarters, a sports arena, a cultural and educational foundation, and an outdoor arena.  He found the solution for the Depression in building a town around chocolate and the amusement park.

Back to Joy Koy.  Hysterical is the word I would use.  The is one of the smaller venues that he is playing on his tour and he was mesmerized by the jewel that is Hershey and the fact that the street lights are shaped like kisses.  He talked about the the wonderful hidden little spots like Hershey that are all over the nation.  He moved into new material that is not always about his mother and his nationality.  At one point, he strayed from the routine and became conversational and interactive with the audience.  He told spontaneous stories that were engaging and funny.  I admire his mind.  He is understands, people, comedy, and entertaining.  He has worked so hard to be where he is at and is working on a new ABC show about his life.  I look forward to it.  Would I do it again…oh, yeah.

History of the Hershey Theatre | Hershey Theatre

History of the Hershey Theatre | Hershey Theatre

History of the Hershey Theatre | Hershey Theatre

History of the Hershey Theatre | Hershey Theatre

We started off with dinner before the show.  After a little bit of research, I picked The Grill on Chocolate Avenue for dinner.  We loved the restaurant.  The atmosphere was casual, light, and bright.  The space was open and had banks of windows which I enjoy because I like people watching.  You can make reservations online but only for lunch.  Dinner is first come first serve for seating.  The one drawback is the tight parking behind the restaurant.  It’s a one way and there is not much room for navigating in and out.

Dinner was good.  I did something I rarely do and ordered an appetizer.  We had the fried brussel sprouts drizzled with hot honey and topped with cotija cheese.  It was excellent.  Then came the entrees.  I had the Thai salad with salmon and he had the Southwest chicken wrap.  The salmon was done to taste.  I had it medium and it was done just right.  The greens were fresh and there was not a lot of water in the salad.  The wrap was spicy and huge.  It was well seasoned and he had crispy fries with it.  The food very good, the atmosphere nice and comfortable.

Just like Lancaster, I am not familiar with the local restaurants but am looking forward to exploring more of them.  I had dinner at Harvest during one of my visits.  The food was fresh and delicious, the atmosphere subdued and the cocktails just right.  I like this restaurant and have eaten at the Radnor and Glen Mills locations.  Consistent is the name of the game with this place.  Not knowing the area, I searched for some reviews.  The Visit Hershey & Harrisburg websites offers a search by type.  You can find casual, family, fine, farm to table, outdoor, and coffee and dessert locations.  I want to hear what locals had to say and I found an excellent list of local restaurants from the West Wynd Farm Inn.  Here are their choices:


Alfred’s Victorian – guests enjoy gourmet Northern Italian in a Victorian Mansion complete with intimate dining rooms and a romantic setting. 38 North Union Street, Middletown, PA 17057. 717.944.5373.

Arooga’s Grill House and Sports Bar – they have a huge selection of craft beers in a fun and relaxed environment. 637 E Main Street, Hummelstown, PA 17036. 717.298.1027.

The Boro – this is a popular sports bar that offers a wide selection of food items. Guests enjoy watching sports on one of the many TVs in the restaurant. 401 East Main Street, Hummlestown, PA 17036. 717.566.5142.
HOT TIP: they are known for their hot wings.

Devon Seafood + Steak – this is the place to go for exceptional seafood in downtown Hershey. Reservations are recommended and you may do so on their website. 27 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA 717.508.5460.

Fabio’s Italian Restaurant  – enjoy authentic Italian food in a casual home style setting. You can dine in or take out.  Wine 106 Kelley Ct, Grantville, PA 17028. 717.469.0709.
HOT TIP: bring your own beer or wine.

Fudruckers– this is a fun and casual restaurant known for their burgers. 1221 West Chocolate, Hummelstown, PA 17036. 717.533.5446.

Funck’s –they have 100 beers on tap! Seafood, steak, burgers and more.  664 W Main St, Palmyra, PA 17078. 717.838.1611.

The Grill on Chocolate Avenue – exceptional American gourmet food. They have a large menu and you can make online reservations. 114 W Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA 17033. 717.835.0888.

Hershey Pantry – gourmet comfort food. 801 E Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA 17033. 717.533.7505.
HOT TIP: voted best dessert in Central PA.

The Hotel Hershey: 100 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA 17033. 717.534.8800.

  • The Circular – this offers an elegant room but there is no dress code. Guests enjoy gourmet food and it is perfect for special occasions.
  • The Harvest – they incorporate locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. The menu has seasonal fare, micro-brews,  American wine and the dress code is resort casual.
  • Iberian Lounge –Lovely place for a drink and sometimes live music and dancing
  • Trevi 5 – A summer favorite with a delightful Tuscan inspired Italian menu. Be sure to request an outdoor umbrella table for beautiful views of the gardens and Hershey In the distance.

Houlihans – casual dining for lunch and dinner. 7 W Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA 17033. 717.534.3110.

Issac’s Famous Grilled Sandwhiches – unusual soups and sandwiches and you can order online. 597 E Main St, Hummelstown, PA 17036. 717.533.9665.

The Manor Restaurant and Lounge – this lovely restaurant is close to our Hershey bed and breakfast.  Their soups and specials are made daily and their goal is to bring home cooked meals back in an amazing way.

The Mill – offering American Gourmet food from Executive Chef Joe Mishler. Local ingredients is incorporated and they have three bars, hand crafted cocktails, craft beers and unique private dining rooms. 810 Old West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA 17033. 717.256.9965.

Piazzo Sorrento – Exceptional fresh pasta! They offer a great gluten free menu as well. 16 Briarcrest Square, Hershey PA 17033. 717.835.1919.
HOT TIP: a favorite Italian restaurant of the locals.

Smoked Bar and Grill – there is something for everyone here. From steaks, seafood, salads and more. 1201 W Chocolate Ave, Hummelstown, PA 17036. 717.298.7900

Troegs – Craft brewery with inventive food menu. Great beers and a fun place. 200 East Hershey Park Dr. Hershey, PA 17033. 717.534.1297.

Union Canal House – very good food – fresh seafood and steaks. Do not let the outside of the building scare you away! It is historic and is a restaurant that should be considered. 107 South Hanover Street, Hershey,  PA, 17033. 717.566.0054.

Warwick Hotel – this restaurant & bar feels like a neighborhood pub. 12 W Main St, Hummelstown, PA 17036. 717.566.9124.

Wasabi Grill – offers the best Asian in area and they have Sushi. 1311 E Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA 17033. 717.533.9900.

What If Café, Hershey – very good American Gourmet. 845 E Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA 17033. 717.533.5858.

I truly enjoy Hershey. It’s a lovely little town and has a lot to offer for a very long weekend. I will definitely get into talking about Hershey some other time. So much to do and so much not to do.




In Hard Times, Hershey Kept Thousands Employed



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