All Good in da 'Hood

Tymes Square, a bar in a residential area of deep southwest Houston, seems ordinary enough at first. Then you notice the herds of Brahman cattle milling about in a field just down the road. Inside, the black cowboys who raise them are listening to a decidedly urban brand of comedy.

"You haven't performed comedy till you've played for people who've shown up on horseback," says All D. Freeman, a local comedian and promoter. "When black cowboys ride their horses right up to the club and tie 'em up, it's like doing comedy in the 1800s."

Each Wednesday, folks in boots come in for the hour or so of belly laughs and inexpensive margaritas known as "Comedy in da 'Hood." Make no mistake: Cowboys and cow pies aside, this part of town is still the 'hood. "It's the top place in Houston for urban comedy," says Freeman. "If you can do comedy at Tom's room, you can do comedy anywhere. It's like performing in Harlem."

The ever-smiling Tom Webb has overseen "Comedy in da 'Hood" for more than two years. A fixture on the Houston scene, Webb performed at the "James Brown One Night Stand" in Los Angeles after Brown was released from prison. He has also appeared on Black Entertainment Television and stars in his own show on public-access TV (The Thomas Webb Variety Hour Minus 30 at 7:30 p.m. on Sundays).

National headliners traveling through town often stop by Tymes Square. In fact, blaxploitation legend Rudy Ray Moore (the notorious "Dolemite") won't leave Houston until he's paid Webb a visit. "Dolemite was astonished at the level of culture at Tom's room," says Freeman. Rodney Winfield, Cedric the Entertainer and Jamie Fox all have performed in the cozy club, too, where the 'hood-friendly price of entry is a single American dollar. Just leave your horse at the door.

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Eric A.T. Dieckman