Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret opened in Winnipeg in 1986 and at the time was the 12th location for the Toronto-based comedy chain.
For years, the Osborne Village location at 106 Osborne had been the Osborne Theatre but became well known in the 1970s for Floating Ecstasy, a waterbed store. It was a time when Osborne Village became the trendy and higher density community it is today. By the mid 1980s, the waterbed days were waning and it was converted to a sofa shop. However, the second floor became a Yuk Yuk’s with the comedy boom that was sweeping the city.
In 1985 Rumors Restaurant and Comedy Club was founded when it took over for Kappy’s in the recently renovated Tuxedo Village mall. Around the same time the Al Golden owned hotel began doing very local comedy and now the new owners do the same thing. Winnipeg was an embarrassment of riches for comedy.
By 1991, Yuk Yuk’s had closed and a series of night clubs succeeded it. But Yuk Yuk’s will be returning in a pretty upscale place in 2023.
In January 2023, Yuk Yuk’s will occupy the club space at Fort Garry Hotel‘s lower level. It follows a revived comedy boom in Winnipeg where several establishments such as Limelight, Wee Johnny’s, Handsome Daughter and The Basement offer up talent.
The Fort Garry Hotel continues to find ways to enhance what it offers. The patio and renovation of the Palm Room, the spa and continued service as a locally owned place keeps it relevant. The days of cabarets and nightclubs has declined. Hotels that used to have multiple dance clubs are finding new audiences with sports bars, karaoke and comedy clubs. Live music still has a place. The Marion Hotel for example is doing an only original music night. However, there is no denying that comedy has had a resurgence.
Winnipeg took the genesis of the last comedy wave to create the long lasting Winnipeg Comedy Festival. Make no mistake, we are movers and shakers in this industry.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations