Don't Tell Comedy presents laughs with a twist around Delaware

By Craig Horleman
Posted 2/21/24

Laughs come to the adventurous with shows put on by Don’t Tell Comedy.

For about a year in Delaware, Don’t Tell Comedy has been producing stand-up sets in unique, nontraditional …

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Don't Tell Comedy presents laughs with a twist around Delaware

Posted

Laughs come to the adventurous with shows put on by Don’t Tell Comedy.

For about a year in Delaware, Don’t Tell Comedy has been producing stand-up sets in unique, nontraditional locations across the state.

But there’s a catch: Patrons buy $25 tickets to a particular performance knowing only the town it will be presented in. The specific site is revealed the morning of, via email.

“There’s a little bit of risk with it. You might buy a ticket, and we’re in a shoe shop, or we did one in the backroom of Dogfish Head (Brewery), which was very cool. We have some in the pipeline that I’m very excited about,” said Don’t Tell Comedy Delaware co-producer David Piccolomini.

“We don’t want people to be able to pick based on venue because that’s not really what it’s about. It’s partially about showcasing the venue as a space for a variety of people. We don’t want it to be like, ‘Well, the tattoo parlor only had Goth people,’ or ‘The clothing shop only had yuppies’ or whatever. Part of the experience is, you’re coming into a weird new place.”

The lineup of comics is also unknown until showtime.

“It’s almost an illusion of control. It’s not like you’re going to see someone famous like (talk show host) Taylor Tomlinson, like someone who’s known nationally — although sometimes, they could pop in because they’re performing nearby,” said Mr. Piccolomini, himself a stand-up comedian from Wilmington, now living in New York City.

“It’s more about getting a trust in us and the brand itself. If you come to see a show with us, you’re going to have a good time.”

Mr. Piccolomini is joined in the effort by fellow stand-up comic Daniel Crow. Both are known to step up to the mic and join fellow performers from the region.

In Delaware, Don’t Tell Comedy began in 2023. But the enterprise was founded in Los Angeles in 2017 by Kyle Kazanjian-Amory, who wanted to create local stand-up shows that felt more casual than comedy clubs and more professional than average independent productions. The first performances were in his backyard before they expanded to other cities, which now number more than 100 and go into Canada and the United Kingdom.

Those who have performed for Don’t Tell Comedy across the country include Michael Che, Bill Burr, Nikki Glazer and Ali Wong.

Delaware was chosen as the first test for smaller markets, Mr. Piccolomini said. The debut was at Rainbow Records in Newark last April, followed by The Days of Knights game shop, also in Newark, in May.

Don’t Tell has even done a show in Mr. Piccolomini’s parents’ yard in north Wilmington, drawing 100 people.

Others have followed farther south, including Esteem Footware on Loockerman Street in Dover, the Children’s Beach House in Lewes and the Fractured Prune doughnut shop in Rehoboth Beach.

“Delaware’s perfect for this because there hasn’t been a consistent comedy club in Delaware since the ’80s. There are some comedy clubs that’ll pop up from time to time. But that’s about it,” Mr. Piccolomini said.

“Putting on a cool thing in Delaware is not as common as I’d like it to be, and so, it’s fun to be like a cool, fun thing in Delaware. And that was partially why and how we got started. I would love it if there were comedy clubs where I could just come down when I’m visiting and go perform. This has been a really fun experience and a great way to create those opportunities.”

The opportunities are for both the audiences and the comedians themselves, who take part in lineups that can run from four to six performers a night.

“We bring comics down from New York. I’ve been doing comedy (there) for almost 10 years. I know plenty of people who’ve been doing it. So, we just tip people off, and they come out and do it, and it’s super fun,” Mr. Piccolomini added.

“They come down and crash at my parents’ place and the other producer’s parents’ house. ... And then, we go do these shows for the weekend. So, it’s a little road trip for them. They like it because they get to do more time than they would if they were just doing 10-minute spots in New York. So, you can do like 20 minutes to a half-hour. We had a comedian, Carmen Lagala, who ran her hour (of material) for one of the last times before she recorded it.”

Like Ms. Lagala, many of the comics featured in Delaware shows have appeared on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” Comedy Central and Netflix.

“We want really good comics to come down, so we do try and keep our talent pool at a very high level,” said Mr. Piccolomini, who has his own stand-up comedy hour on YouTube, “Goblin King,” filmed at the Wilmington Drama League.

“Most of our comics have been doing it six years or more. We try and get really strong comics. That’s one of our goals because, for a lot of people, this is their introduction to comedy.”

Don’t Tell Comedy is always looking for places to perform, particularly Downstate.

“If people have venues they think would be good, they can submit to us online. They can submit venues where they’d like to see us or even if they want to do it at their house. Personally, I really want to do a cemetery at some point. I think that would be very fun,” he said.

Upcoming shows include Wilmington tonight and a sold-out performance in Rehoboth Beach on Saturday, plus March 2 in Lewes and March 9 in Dover.

Further down the road, performances are set for April 6 in Viola and May 11 in Delmar.

For tickets and to submit venue considerations, visit donttellcomedy.com.

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