It all started when co-owner Jeff Adamson tried out for ComedySportz worldwide organization nearly 30 years ago.
“I didn’t know what it was my wife told me to try it,” said Jeff.
Little did he know, that improv audition would be the start of a staple in downtown Rock Island.
“And out of that 200 they picked 13 of us, and I was one of them,” said Jeff. “And they looked at me and said ‘Hey, you’re the oldest. You’re in charge.'”
And so the first comedy club in downtown Rock Island came to life in 1990 at The Speakeasy.
“Since then, there have been nine. Nine comedy clubs that have open and failed, open and failed, and open and failed, and we’re still here,” said Jeff.
After 20 years in their first location, ComedySportz moved down the street to The Establishment in 2010.
“We love doing this and never could’ve if it wasn’t for the city of Rock Island supporting us,” said Patrick Adamson, who co-owns ComedySportz with his dad, Jeff.
But once again, it’s time for a change.
“This is an evolution for us,” said Patrick.
Despite all odds with the digital world we live in, ComedySportz has kept Quad Citians coming back.
“It’s not a format that is one that we can Facebook live stream and try to monotize in some way,” said Patrick. “It needs that person-to-person interaction.”
But, it’s still tough to keep up with.
“The digital world completely changed the entertainment landscape,” said Patrick.
Patrick says with people spending more time on their devices at home, they say these days at least half of their audience on any given night are there for a special occasion.
So after decades of bringing the people to Rock Island for a good laugh, they say it’s time to bring the show to them.
“We want to be able to make ourselves more mobile,” said Patrick. “To be able to go to more places.”
Patrick says with sixteen shows a month and keeping up with a large building like The Establishment, it’s a lot to maintain. So rather than be tied to one place, they’re looking for a more flexible approach.
Soon, you’ll be able to catch their shows on both sides of the river for the first time. They’ll be performing at The Spotlight Theatre in Moline, and One Voice QC in Davenport.
“You know to be able to have one foot on each side is like exciting, it’s very nice for us.”
As for The Establishment, Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms doesn’t think it will sit empty for long.
“We’ll see what happens in the future but at least there is some interest,” he said.
And Patrick says one of their other comedy shows could call Rock Island home in the future.
“We’re happy to talk about it,” he said.
And while there’s going to be some changes, this is definitely not a goodbye.
“We’re one community,” said Jeff. “So what’s good for one city, is good for all the communities. So that’s why we’re spreading out to Davenport and Moline you know? We’re still the Quad Cities.”
Instead, it’s a new beginning.
ComedySportz will have shows at The Establishment through the end of May. They will start performing at their new venues in July and August.