Stand Up Guy
Brad Rigler Has Boone County Laughing It Up With Monthly Zionsville Comedy Night
Photographer: Michael Durr
Brad Rigler has always been drawn to the comedy scene. Rigler, a Baltimore, Maryland native, always had a knack for theater and performing arts in high school. But the itch to perform stand-up comedy never went away.
No matter the job he’s held throughout his life, be it acting, reporting or working in sales, he’s always been the funny guy in the office.
“Stand-up comedy has always been something I’ve admired and wanted to do,” Rigler says. “In high school, I had an outlet of theater and acting. In acting, you are performing someone else’s material, though. In stand-up comedy, it is all on you. I went to Actors Conservatory training in Manhattan a month out of high school. I even went out to L.A. for a bit. Much of comedy is experiencing life.”
And Rigler has had his share of experiences. After finishing college in Virginia, he actually spent time as a sports journalist briefly before continuing to travel and even perform small stand-up gigs in New York.
His journey ultimately led him to Indy. He and his family lived for many years in Columbus, Ohio. A few years ago, Rigler traveled to Indianapolis for work and stumbled across Crackers Comedy Club.
“Crackers is actually the reason why I realized I had to do comedy,” Rigler says. “I saw the big sign and realized, ‘That is where I belong.’ I started to go around to all the Indy comedy shows and meet more comics.”
About a year ago, Rigler took the leap and moved to Indiana. Believing that the comedy scene around Indy was stronger than any he’d experienced in other places, he wanted to get plugged in as much as possible. After finding a house in Zionsville that they knew would be a home, the Rigler family settled in. Rigler continued to explore the comedy scene around Indianapolis and quickly realized there wasn’t much of an outlet for stand-up shows or audiences in Zionsville to experience comedy.
So, Rigler came up with the idea for the Zionsville Comedy Night.
“There seemed to be comedy shows all around Indy, but there were none in Zionsville,” he says. “That is something I thought we could correct in a hurry. It is something I wanted to share with the community. I love this community. We were drawn to Zionsville because it is wonderful for the kids, and the community has just about everything that you want and hardly anything of what you don’t want.”
The idea for a monthly comedy show came easily enough, but finding a location and comics to fill the shows each month is what took the most legwork. Rigler got to work, and continues so today, exploring comedy clubs and finding comics interested in performing at his Zionsville show each month.
“I recruit new comics, with talent, that come up to Zionsville and perform,” he says. “And we decided to do it for free and allow people in the Zionsville area to experience the Indy comedy scene close to home.”
After searching for a good location for the comedy nights, Rigler landed on the Village Station. The Zionsville pizza pub is a local favorite, and Rigler knew it was a spot that people in Boone County are familiar with. He brought his idea to the Village Station owners, who were more than receptive.
“The owners have been absolutely fantastic,” Rigler says. “When I came to them with the idea, they were enthusiastic about it and said that it sounded fun. The venue has been perfect at the Village Station. The layout is suited well for stand-up performances. The venue makes or breaks the show. Everyone feels comfortable at the Village Station.”
Zionsville Comedy Night is hosted on the second Wednesday each month. The first show back in March was a big hit, and Rigler has continued to promote and build up the shows each month with new lineups. Overall, he says, the community support for the shows has been “tremendous.”
“The turnout for the shows has been really good so far,” he says. “We have close to a packed house just about every show. I really wanted to bring a variety of comics, so that every show people could see something different.”
Rigler hosts each comedy night. He is the first one to get on the stage, do his own 10-minute stand-up bit and introduce the other comics throughout the evening. For his material, he draws inspiration from his own life, including being a husband and father to two kids ages four and five.
The aspiring stand-up comedian says it’s an honor to host the event each month and be up on stage with other great comedians.
“I love to express myself both in writing and performance,” he says. “I love telling stories and making people laugh. I feel at ease in front of an audience. I’ve been acting and performing since I was 15 years old, so I’ve had bad nights. At the end of the day, I realize it is not the end of the world. I am comfortable in front of an audience, and that is a huge hurdle to overcome.”
For Rigler, who works full-time in real estate, the Zionsville Comedy Night is more of a passion than a hobby. All the effort put into planning the nights, getting fresh lineups of new comics and preparing his material to host is done entirely on his own time. He hopes the monthly shows in Zionsville continue to grow and more people experience the comedy scene in the surrounding Indianapolis areas.
“The goal is to build an audience for comedy, whether you live in Zionsville or not, we want everyone to come,” he says. “If someone has never seen stand-up comedy before, we definitely want them to come out. Perhaps, over time, we can bring in even larger acts. I just hope to build a tradition and some pride in the comedy scene around Indy and in Zionsville.”
The Village Station is located at 10615 Zionsville Rd. Zionsville Comedy Night is hosted on the second Wednesday each month with shows starting at 8 p.m. and finishing before 10 p.m. The next Zionsville Comedy Night is June 12. The event will feature six comics and is free to the public for those 21 and older.