There is just something special about the Mercantile building in Old Town Temecula. Built in 1890, the structure is unique for its quaint woodplank porch and warm brick interiors.
“This is such an exciting, intimate venue. You can hold the audience so close to you and bring everyone in on the joke,” said comedian Vicki Barbolak.
Barbolak, joined by fellow comedians Retha Jones and JR Redwater, performed Saturday evening as part of the first-ever Comedy at The Merc, poking fun at everything from sex to politics and, yes, Temecula.
The inaugural, standing-room-only event drew a sold-out crowd and sent laughs soaring into the upper reaches of the small, but vibrant space.
“It is incredible how (the closeness) of the audience has a way of reverberating in the room,” said comedian and emcee Lisa Joffrey.
Joffrey added that intimate nature of the room can pose a challenge for performers who find the proximity with the audience intimidating.
“Every audience will have its own identity. But everything has gone so well. I am over the moon. Temecula always has the most receptive audiences,” Joffrey said.
Joffrey praised the staff at the Old Town Temecula Theater. She said she thinks the Comedy at The Merc was a good jump start for possible regular appearances and she hopes that the show will go on.
While once a thriving hub of daily commerce, The Merc now plays host to a different trade by serving as the entrance to the Old Town Temecula Community Theater and as a venue for talented artists to perform.
Music has been the most popular genre to take the stage — featuring such weekly shows as Thursday’s Jazz at The Merc, Country at The Merc on Saturday nights and Classics at The Merc on Sunday afternoons.
Joffrey said that by arranging for a set time and day each month, it might be possible to have something other than the soft strains or Brahms or the hot twangs of country music filling the rafters.
Instead, there will be laughter.
To learn more about this or upcoming performances at Old Town Temecula Community Theater, visit www.temeculatheater.org.
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.