Sunday Night Funnies Finds a New Stage

Brian Borbot, founder of Sunday Night Funnies
Brian Borbot, founder of Sunday Night Funnies

After a longer than anticipated hiatus, Sunday Night Funnies comedy series has landed a new gig.

The 10-year-old weekly standup showcase is moving to Woody’s Press Box inside Spectrum Lanes, 5656 Clyde Park Ave SW, beginning Sunday, Feb. 11.

The format will remain the same, with Sunday Night Funnies organizer Brian Borbot opening and serving as emcee for each show, and inviting nearly a dozen comedians to perform each Sunday night.

“I usually schedule ten comedians, getting between five to 15-minutes stage time each,” Borbot said, joking, “If you don’t like a particular comic, go to the restroom- by the time you get back they should be off the stage.”

Borbot started Sunday Night Funnies back in 2008 in Douglas, Michigan.

Nicole Majdali Ramirez performing at Sunday Night Funnies
Nicole Majdali Ramirez performing at Sunday Night Funnies

“At that time I was dating a woman who had a friend who was the owner. She and I split up before the second show (LOL), but I wanted to keep the show going. I live here in Grand Rapids and wanted to bring it closer to home so the first place I approached was the Radisson Hotel on Ann Street (later becoming the Riverfront Hotel),” he said.

Borbot leverage his relationship with the hotel’s owner, Bob Sullivan, to secure the space.

“He liked the idea of doing a stand-up comedy show in his hotel lounge, but originally wanted to do it during Friday happy hour,” Borbot said. “I wanted to keep it on Sunday nights. My feeling was that there wasn’t a lot of entertainment options on Sunday and I wanted the Funnies to be the big fish in a little pond.”

Alastair J. Watt performing at Sunday Night Funnies
Alastair J. Watt performing at Sunday Night Funnies

For the next eight years – until the hotel changed ownership – Sunday Night Funnies took the stage at the hotel each week.

“Entering the show’s tenth year we have had close to 900 different comics who have performed at the Sunday Night Funnies,” Borbot said. Comedians come from all over Michigan as well as from across the country.

During 2017, you could say Sunday Night Funnies was homeless, however.

“The first quarter of last year, from January through March of 2017, the Sunday Night Funnies was being held at 131 Hotel Plaza [also owned by Sullivan],” Borbot explained. After that Borbot began searching for a new home for the series.

“I thought I’d take the summer off and find a new, permanent home for the show, but it took me a while to find one that I was truly comfortable with,” Borbot said.

He said Woody’s Press Box is a nice fit for Sunday Night Funnies.

“I had Woody’s Press Box on my radar for a while. I was hesitant about doing the show at a sports bar. I didn’t want to interfere or compete with what they already had going on there, but with the enclosed patio off the side we can do the show without bothering that,” he said.

Woody's Press Box
Woody’s Press Box

The entertainment complex is also undergoing an expansion later this year, which will include a new area where Sunday Night Funnies will be held.

Borbot added, “I like the fact that they’re an entertainment complex with bowling on the other side, live music, and other events going on throughout the week in Woody’s. I thought doing comedy there on Sunday’s would compliment all of that.”

Borbot said a lot has changed over Sunday Night Funnies’ first decade, including a wave of new opportunities for comedians to show off their talent at venues throughout the region.

He also said he’s never struggled to fill out his roster each Sunday.

“There really is a tremendous amount of talent in the area. It’s just a matter of time before someone from around here makes it big. I hope they do- then their performance on the SNF TV show will go viral,” he said.

Besides the weekly show, you can catch Sunday Night Funnies as part of LaughFest this year, with performances on March 11 and 18. You can also find over 250 past episodes on YouTube.

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