Unlike New York and Los Angeles, Miami isn’t known for having a rich stand-up scene. There are no world-renowned comedy clubs here — no Laugh Factory, Caroline’s, or Comedy Cellar. The great comedians of this world never cut their teeth on the South Florida open-mike circuit.
That may change soon, though — if it hasn’t already.
In the past year, since the COVID-19 pandemic started ravaging the country and forcing event spaces to close, Miami has remained a stalwart proponent of live entertainment. Now, people who once sneered at Florida are looking to it as an escape — and a new comedy hub.
Take Kendall native Brittany Brave. Like so many of her New York-based comic contemporaries are wishing they could, Brave is currently making a name for herself in the Miami comedy scene.
Since moving back to her parents’ house last fall, Brave has taken South Florida by storm, performing everywhere from Wynwood to Delray Beach. She has her own video web series called The Disastrous Dating Life of Diane Damone, writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, runs a virtual improvised tarot-reading event, and this Wednesday, March 10, at Showfields on Lincoln Road, Brave will host the first edition of her new monthly live comedy series, Laughs on Lincoln.
“I am definitely a performer first,” Brave says. “This is what happens when you have no love or sex life, and you’re just passionate about comedy. This is all I do.”
Once a tangle of mangroves, Lincoln Road is Miami Beach’s premier shopping district. It’s here you can catch everyone from European tourists to suburban mall goths taking reprieves from the overbearing South Florida sun in opulent shops like Showfields. Even before the pandemic, Lincoln Road had been a mecca for buying, so it makes sense that the self-proclaimed “Most Interesting Store in the World” set up its second home here. (Its first is based in Manhattan.) Showfields is filled with wares from various, small-time vendors. It’s like Etsy, except you can walk around in it. There’s also a big silver slide in the back that takes you from the second floor to the first.
“There’s tons of local Miami artists and international artists that decorate the store top to bottom,” Brave says of Showfields. “Part of that too is they have these incredible event spaces, where they bring people out for charity events and concerts. In terms of comedy, this is the first one at Showfields in Miami.”
Though she was born and raised in Kendall, Brave can seem like a transplant — a New York comic making her way into a new scene.
“The last time I really lived in Miami was in high school,” she says. “Thanks to COVID, now I have the chance to sink my teeth in and rediscover Miami.”
Still, Brave has managed to round up a crew of well-known South Florida comics for this inaugural showcase. Headlining the event is Miami native Cisco Duran.
“I saw Brittany perform about four months ago,” Duran says. “She came down from New York because of the whole COVID situation, and I thought she was amazing. After that, whatever show I could put her on, I put her on. That’s how funny she is to me.”
While getting his start in the Magic City, Duran was working a full-time sales job by day and hitting comedy clubs by night. He took naps in his car in the little time he had between those commitments. Now he tours with Carlos Mencia and has an HBO special in the works.
"People from Miami might be scammers,” Duran says. “But they work hard to get it.”
Duran’s performances ooze Miami attitude. On stage and in interviews, he weaves between cracking jokes and making earnest musings clearly influenced by his South Florida upbringing. He talks about Latino brashness, face-melting traffic, being too fat to ride a water slide, and hustling well beyond the parameters of a 40-hour workweek.
“For some reason, people like to exaggerate when it comes to Miami,” Duran says. “That’s probably why comedy never flourished down here before.”
The first Laughs on Lincoln showcase will also feature comics Ricky Cruz, Julie Baez, Kaycee Conlee, and Danny Benavente. The show will have limited seating, social distancing, and required masks. Complimentary hand sanitizer will be provided.
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