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Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle vets raising money for club employees

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Tim Allen, Dave Coulier and other comics who have taken their stand-up act to Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle in Royal Oak are giving back this week -- by putting their mouths where your money is.

The pair, who went on to become network TV stars, and six others will be part of "Conversations With Comedy Castle Comedians," three days of interviews at 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, May 5-7, via the Comedy Castle's Facebook page. The series will benefit TipYourWaitstaff.com, a campaign to raise money for comedy club employees that was launched by New York comic Mark Birbiglia. Currently 45 clubs are taking part nationally; Ridley's Comedy Castle has so far raised $5,300 of its $25,000 goal, while the Comedy Cellar in New York has surpassed its $50,000 goal with $111,000 in pledges so far.

Whatever we raise, it's going to go to our staff," Ridley says. "Some of them aren't getting unemployment benefits at all. It's a way to help out the people who keep us up and running."

The "Conversations" shows will also feature chats with Mike Bonner, Michael Kosta, Dave Landau, J Chris Newberg, John Heffron and Paul Mecurio, all of whom have performed at the Comedy Castle. The talks will be moderated by local radio personalities Jim O'Brien and Ken Calvert. Donations can be made via tipyourwaitstaff.cm/markridley'scomedy castle or the drive's Go Fund Me page.

Ridley remains unsure when he'll be able to re-open the Comedy Castle, which seats 200, pursuant to Michigan state restrictions on mass gatherings -- or what restrictions will be in place. "We can open with 100 seats; The question is how many people are going to feel safe and secure enough to buy a ticket and come," says Ridley, who has received a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the federal CARES act. He currently has some employees working in the club, keeping it clean and putting protective measures in place for whenever it reopens.

Web Site: www.comedycastle.com

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