Looking for some laughs? There’s a new comedy club in town that you’ll want to check out.

“The Comedy Park is the culmination of a lifelong dream,” says Billy Simas, the stand-up comic who’ll be managing the club. “This is exactly what I wanted to build for comics and the community.”

The club is part of the Park Theatre complex in Cranston. Ed Brady and Jeff Quinlan recently purchased the building and are in process of renovating and reopening. Brady contacted Simas in the summer of 2021. After a lot of back-and-forth, the two agreed to create a traditional comedy club.

Simas says naming the club was the toughest part of the process. “I had over 40 names that I loved, and they were all taken,” says Simas. “Ed and Jeff asked me to think about using ‘Park’ in the name of the club for synergy. That was almost impossible as well.”

Simas needed a name and was running out of time. “I was working on name options one night. I was about ready to give up for the night when an ad popped up for Six Flags. An amusement park. It hit me like a ton of bricks right at that moment. We all love the amusement park, the ballpark, the dog park. Why not fall in love with The Comedy Park?”

In addition to presenting comedy, The Comedy Park will be the permanent home of the Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame. The brainchild of Rockin’ Joe Hebert, the Hall honors “those who have made outstanding contributions to stand-up comedy” in the Ocean State.

Established ten years ago, the Hall of Fame has existed in the ether. “For the past ten years,” says Hebert, “I’ve been tormented by other comedians about the HOF ‘just being a website.’ Charlie Hall, our first inductee, was the biggest offender. He would tell people that the first thing I did after I came up with the idea was to call GoDaddy. If you’ve ever been site-shamed, it’s a horrible experience.”

Hebert continues. “I thought it would be amazing to have a place where we were recognized for our achievements. A pat on the back for a job well done, if you will.”

According to Simas, as soon as you walk into The Comedy Park, “the Hall of Fame will have a dedicated wall on the left-hand side. You can’t miss it.” Each inductee will have a spot, featuring a caricature by Charlie Hall, a headshot, and a short bio.

“I have been hoping for a permanent spot and it’s difficult to find one because the project is not profitable,” says Hebert. “You can’t just walk into any building and start hanging pictures. That’s the reason I was arrested inside the Tennis Hall of Fame. I can’t discuss it until after the trial.”

There are ten current inductees in the HOF. “I want new comics to see who paved the way for them to perform stand-up in Rhode Island,” says Hebert. “You, Charlie Hall, John Perrotta, and even myself to a certain extent were Rhode Island comedy pioneers.”

Full disclosure: I’m one of the inductees. My induction ceremony/roast in 2014 raised close to $7000 for my daughter’s memorial fund. This year, I mark my 40th anniversary in comedy, both as a stand-up and a writer.

Other members, in the order of induction, are Charlie Hall, John Perrotta, Tom Cotter, Doreen Collins, Ace Aceto, Funny4Funds, Bobby Braciola and Ruth Buzzi. “The Comedy Park being the home of the Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame is perfection,” says Simas. “The synergy is palpable. I love that we can honor these entertainers for years and years to come.”

Simas is an inductee under Funny4Funds, a comedy fundraiser company created with fellow comic Mike Murray. “My next goal is to be inducted alongside my fellow entertainers, not just as a company,” says Simas. “If I ever get in on my own merit as the others did, that will be an epic moment of accomplishment. I am working relentlessly towards that goal every day, in hopes to be considered worthy of that Hall of Fame induction but as Bill Simas this time. We shall see what happens.”

The Hall’s next inductee is lined up. Al Ducharme will be added to the Hall on July 23. “Al and his much funnier wife, Bernadette Pauley, are performing at The Comedy Park that weekend,” says Hebert. “I have mixed emotions about his ceremony. I was supposed to perform that weekend, and I got bumped by Al and Bernie.”

Hebert has a wish list for future inductees: the Farrelly brothers; Seth McFarlane; Charlie Day; Jay Leno, Debra Messing; and Frank Santos Sr. “My real goal,” says Hebert, “is to keep Will Smith away from the building.”

Visit the RICHOF website at www.richof.com. For tickets and information on The Comedy Park, visit www.thecomedypark.com.

Frank O'Donnell

Frank O’Donnell has been writing features and reviews about the local entertainment scene for 20 years. In addition to that, he’s a stand-up comic, comedy writer, actor, playwright, compliance officer, butterfly whisperer and president of the Keri Anne O’Donnell Memorial Fund. #KeepingPassionForPerformanceAlive.