PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – One of Peoria County’s oldest comedy clubs is opening its doors for the weekends again.
The Jukebox Comedy Club, at 3527 W. Farmington Rd, came back from an eight-month weekend closure Friday night.
The owner, Dan Conlin, said when the lights came on he wanted to give the audience the laughs they’ve come to expect over the past 31 years.
Inside the building, behind the microphone, under the lights, and on the club’s stage is where Conlin said both local and national comedians have come to shine for the past three decades.
“The people we bring are uniquely funny,” Conlin said. “They’re terrific.”
But Conlin said, since last October, the club’s stage has been uniquely empty. He said keeping the club closed is a decision that financially impacted his business, but a decision he said he made out of an abundance of caution.
“I could have been open but my choice was to be as safe as possible and not put more people at risk than had to be,” Conlin said. “In a nightclub, you’re more condensed.”
He also said in his 21 years as the club’s owner, he’s never had a weekend off. Now, with a COVID-19 vaccine readily available, Conlin said it was time to get back to business.
He said Friday was the club’s first weekend show in eight months.
“It’s time to reopen and have fun again,” Conlin said.
A crowd filled the club Friday night with the intention of doing just that. Dan Alten, the show’s weekend headliner, said he was happy to perform at a place he’s always admired.
“This is a real honor to me,” Alten said. “This is a club that I’ve always known about, like, I was a huge comedy fan. I would go and watch old late-night appearances, so it was a real honor to be involved on such an important weekend. “
He said he’s grateful the Jukebox didn’t shut down like other comedy venues. He also said he’s noticed crowds are more excited now than before.
“Thankfully places like this are still sticking around and hopefully people come out and support,” Alten said.
Conlin said he’s hoping that support is still there as his emotions are mixed after being closed for so long.
“I’m reopening with nothing in the bank so let’s see how we do,” Conlin said. “It’s exciting, isn’t it? To have nothing and whatever you take in propels you forward. It’s also scary, it’s exciting and scary but the shows are going to be great.”
He said he doesn’t know exactly what the future holds but he wants to continue getting the word out and filling the club’s seats like the old times.