The Treehouse, Connecticut’s first full-time producer of live comedy, has announced it will present a 30th anniversary show starring five comics who got their comedy careers started at the Treehouse. Johnny Rizzo, Billy Winn, Dom Fig, Vince McElhone, and Jane Condon will all take the stage at Edmond Town Hall on Saturday, October 5.
Showtime is 9 pm. Tickets are $25-$35 and are on sale now, and can be purchased by calling 203-268-5857 or visiting TreehouseComedy.com.
The original Treehouse Café & Comedy Club opened in the summer of 1983 on Post Road in Westport in what was then called the New Englander Hotel (now Westport Inn). Rodney Dangerfield helped put the Treehouse on the map because he would often call Treehouse President, Founder, and Majority Stock Holder Brad Axelrod at home to work out new material at the club. From 1983-89 the Treehouse was the first club in Connecticut to play such comedy luminaries as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Louis CK, Andrew Dice Clay, Rosie O’Donnell, Denis Leary, Tim Allen and John Stewart, just to mention a few.
While renovating and decorating the space before opening, comedian Johnny Rizzo was auditioning for the owners. Thirty years later, Mr Rizzo is still turning on the laughs. Mr Rizzo has appeared on MTV, VH-1, A&E and Last Comic Standing.
Billy Winn, another performer for the 30th anniversary show, started his career hosting Treehouse Open Mic Nights and went on to score a 20-plus-year Connecticut radio career along with TV appearances on VH-1, A&E and more.
In 1989 the lease for the club was sold back to the hotel owners but the Treehouse kept the name and moved to Connecticut Avenue in Norwalk. This 450-seat club was the first Connecticut Comedy Club to feature comic-superstars-to-be, Chris Rock, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Maher and the late Sam Kinison. In 1990, the Treehouse opened satellite Clubs in Danbury and Mystic. In these clubs the Treehouse was the first to stage the comedy stylings of Ray Romano, Dave Chappelle and Janeane Garfalo.
Dom Fig started his comedy career at the Treehouse as half of the comedy team The Fig Brothers. Thirty years later Fig is a solid solo comedy act who has appeared on Showtime and TV’s Last Comic Standing.
Later in the 90s the Treehouse moved from the Norwalk address to the lower level of Porky Manero’s in Westport while continuing to run the two satellite locations and adding a Westchester location in Bedford Hills, N.Y. During this timeframe Greenwich comic Jane Condon made her first Treehouse appearance, and continued with appearances on Lifetime’s Girls Night Out, The View, The Early Show and Last Comic Standing.
A Treehouse Comedy Club location on Isaac Street in Norwalk opened. It was there that Lisa Lampanelli (née Lampugnale) got her start, and so Vincent McElhone. This Old Saybrook based comic/plastic salesmen regularly plays all the Treehouse locations and has appeared on Last Comic Standing on NBC.
From 1997 to 2005 scaled down operations kept the Treehouse going, with staged shows at Marisa’s in Trumbull and Eclisse in Yorktown Heights. In 2005, when the only full-time comedy venue was located in Hartford, the Treehouse went back to its roots and began opening presenting shows in multiple locations. Today comedy entertainment in Connecticut is booming, with Treehouse venues in Stamford to Ridgefield, New Haven to Ledyard, and Manchester to Uncasville.
The October 5 show in Newtown will not only feature stand-up comedy but will also bring back a little Treehouse history and behind-the-scene events. According to Brad Axelrod, “If guests want to break out the MC Hammer parachute pants and dress like the eighties we’ll give out Treehouse tickets for people who want to play.”