‘Laughs on a Hot Tin Roof’ brings stand up to Evanston


Photo courtesy of Seth Davis

Every Wednesday, co-producers Seth Davis, Aaron McDavis and Laura Hugg put on “Laughs on a Hot Tin Roof” at Five & Dime.

Lexi Goldstein, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

A high school reunion might be to thank for Evanston’s emerging stand-up scene. 

When stand-up comic Seth Davis attended a 20th reunion at his alma mater Niles North High School two years ago, the lack of stand up in Evanston inspired him to start a comedy showcase at his childhood haunt Five & Dime. 

So Davis began “Laughs on a Hot Tin Roof,” which has been up and running every Wednesday night since October 2022. 

Davis reached out to Daniel Kelch  — owner of Five & Dime, Taco Diablo, Lulus and The Blue Horse Tavern  — who was looking to draw people into his restaurants during the slower winter season. With limited stand-up comedy options in Evanston, Davis said he wanted to provide a comedy option closer than Chicago.

“It was kind of a handshake thing,” Kelch said.

According to Kelch, the show works as an exchange: The comedians get a guaranteed performance space once a week, collect the show fees and have a free meal. Meanwhile, Kelch’s restaurants get foot traffic from people who dine before or during the show.

Comedy nights will be held on the first Wednesday of the month, starting in may. Weekly shows of “Laughs on a Hot Tin Roof” will return in October.

Co-producer Aaron McDavis said he uses the weekly showcases to try new bits or “dust the cobwebs off another older joke.” 

For every performance, co-producers Davis, McDavis and Laura Hugg invite three stand-up comics to perform with them. 

All three emphasized the importance of diversity in their lineups. Each producer is tasked with bringing in a new performer per show and performers come for varying backgrounds and experience levels. Davis, who started stand-up around 12 years ago, said he performed last year at the Laugh Factory, a comedy club in Los Angeles. But he still works smaller venues too — including a yacht club in Indiana and a Jewish funeral home.

“You’d be surprised, even when people kind of get to a ‘make it’ level or whatever, they still would do a show like this just because they want the stage time, and they’re maybe desperate to make people laugh,” Davis said. 

The show this week featured Laugh Factory’s Saku Yanagawa, Manny Petty and Zanies Comedy Club’s Natasha Pearl Hansen. 

“Laughs on a Hot Tin Roof” is a showcase, not a hierarchy, Hugg said, so all performers get an equal amount of time on stage.

For Hugg, comedy is a natural creative outlet. 

“You have to shape your material, but I also feel like I’m funny,” Hugg said. “It’s the one thing without having to buy something or be somebody other than I am.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @lexipgoldstein

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