Nostalgia and laughs: One pool hall’s comedy traditions

Casey Rohlen

Opportunities for Statesboro’s up-and- coming comedians to showcase their talents in an unfiltered environment are few and far between.

Main Street Billiards, located down the road from the Whitaker Black Box Theatre on West Main Street, is one of the only venues for performers to seek refuge from the negative nature of college campuses.

When you walk in the main room of the pool hall, one of the first things you will see is a mural adorned with with the likeness’ of some of comedy’s trailblazers, like Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, and Redd Foxx. Nostalgia is ripe throughout the pool hall, from the pay-to-play billiards tables to the stale scent of a stubbed out Marlboro Light to a signed VHS copy of “Shaft” inexplicably displayed in a glass case.

Perhaps the most appealing room lies in the back of the building. That is where you will find the backroom where the shows are hosted, filled with a dozen or so folding chairs, a three-foot stage, a dusty microphone and decades of memories.

Starting the showcase

Main Street Billiards has been a staple in historic downtown Statesboro for nearly three decades. When Georgia Southern alumnus Everett Robinson became the owner 10 years ago, he made sure it would not just be a pool hall.

A longtime comedian himself, Robinson saw a chance to do something special in his community and stressed the importance of having a place for people to perform their craft unabridged.

He explained how laughter can be therapeutic for those who attend comedy shows.

“You’d be surprised how many people come to a comedy show on the edge and their life literally depends on that joke. Not to be too heavy, but comedy saves lives,” Robinson said.

With Robinson at the reins, Main Street Billiards saw some of comedy’s biggest acts come through to perform. Names like Reginald Ballard, better known as “Bruh-Man from The Fifth Floor” from the television show “Martin”, came there to perform for standing-room-only crowds.

Following financial difficulties and a death in Robinson’s family, the shows became more sporadic. Then, two years ago, 35-year old GS graduate student and teacher’s assistant Christopher Pugh came to Robinson and “The Statesboro Showcase” was conceived.

A comedy corner

Pugh saw the need for an environment outside of campus for performers to practice their standup without having to watch their tongue. Working alongside Robinson, he became the organizer and host of the open mic nights.

Pugh’s hope for the pool hall is for it to be somewhere people can hang out off-campus and show their talents, while also seeing something that is worthwhile.

“Main Street Billiards isn’t state-of-the-art you know. It’s a place for art,” said Pugh.

The shows and performers are a bright spot for the community in the otherwise largely untapped potential of the historic downtown area.

Laughing more

GS student Deon Hargrove, a senior electrical engineering major and seasoned pool hall comic, uses the shows as a chance to get on stage. Hargrove also echoed Robinson’s assertion of comedy as form of therapy.

“I originally started doing comedy at the hall during the summer of 2014. Comedy for me is a passion and a hobby, not a career, because comedy is what I use to de-stress myself and look on the brighter side of life,” Hargrove said.

Hargrove encouraged students to go because of the benefits and takeaways they can get from being performers or audience members.

“That’s what the shows are all about. There’s a chance that when you get on stage you prove a talent you thought you had or discover one you might not know you have,” Hargrove said.

While there are plans to start having shows with more variety after the holidays, for now, the open mic nights are hosted on the third Wednesday of every month.

This month’s open mic is Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 8:30 p.m. in the pool hall located at 29 West Main Street. It is $5.00 at the door to watch the show and free if you perform.

For more information about performing in the open mic night, you can email [email protected].