“I never knew myself as a funny person,” says Randy Singer, owner of the new theater and comedy club, Boca Black Box, opening this month. But 12 years ago, the former real estate investor decided to join the group Toastmasters; “They kept telling me I was funny.”
To test the waters, Singer tried his hand at an open-mic night, but received some confusing feedback. “The host said I ‘killed,’ but not being around comedy, I thought that was a bad thing,” he explains. “I wondered why the audience was laughing so hard if I was so bad!” Needless to say, Singer quickly figured out that he had a talent, and he decided to explore it further.
His timing was actually serendipitous. “The real estate market started to crash, so I was using comedy as a way to relieve my stress,” Singer explains. Once his kids were in college and his financial pressures were lightened, he decided to give up his serious day job and go into comedy full time.
Ever the businessman, though, Singer says he quickly understood, “I could never make a living as a comedian. I was in my 40s at that point, and it takes 20 years in any profession to get to the top.” After a chance encounter with well-known comedian (and friend of Jimmy Fallon) Bobby Collins, Singer discovered he could make a career through the back end of comedy by producing and promoting shows.
His first client was Collins himself, and from there, Singer produced local hits such as, “That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Jewish,” and “Three Hysterical Broads Off Their Medication.” Selling out venues, including the Coral Springs Art Center and the Lake Worth Playhouse, Singer soon realized he was spending a lot on renting theaters every year. So, he says, “I decided to build my own.”
Thus, the idea for Boca Black Box was hatched. Traditionally, a black box theater explores experimental types of production. Singer describes his 250-seat venue as an “artsy type of theater, where the theatergoer is in a more comfortable, relaxed setting.” Ironically, the space (formerly the NY Comedy Club) is where Singer “killed” that very first open-mic night.
The most unique aspect of Boca Black Box will be the pricing. “The problem in comedy today is that customers are used to getting their tickets for free, but having to buy a two-item minimum. That can be very costly,” Singer says. “We want people to pay for their seats and not feel obligated for any other purchase.”
Depending on the act, prices will range from $30-$50 a ticket. Open-mic nights will be free, Sundays will be family day, and Singer plans to host many private events. “I do volunteer a lot, so I’m going to allow the theater to be used very inexpensively for nonprofit organizations,” he says.
The program will launch with comedian Gil T’s tribute to Redd Foxx, followed by Bobby Collins (naturally) and fellow comedian Bobby Slayton in November. Singer hopes to book big names in the coming months, explaining, “A lot of comedians come through Florida for one-nighters, I want to give them a second opportunity to warm up before they do their big event.”
For more information, visit www.BocaBlackBox.com