Days of Thunder

Since the recent closing of Jus' Jokin' on the southwest side, there hasn't been a regular venue for black comedy in town, save the occasional appearance of Cedric "The Entertainer" at the Arena. Local funnyman All D. Freemon fully intends to keep the comedy train rolling. Seeking an outlet for Houston's gargantuan gob of developing talent, All (pronounced "Al"), who has opened for Chris Rock, turned to the Red Rooster nightclub to start his Thunder Thursdays project.

Walk past the off-duty policemen in the parking lot of this Third Ward establishment, and you might get the idea they're not protecting vehicles as much as guarding a piece of the city's history. The Red Rooster, founded by Houston NewsPages publisher Francis Page Sr. in '71, was originally a BYOB discotheque and one of the first stages for black acts. Current owner Lynn Page (of the Page Girl Productions agency that handles Freemon) liked the idea and designated a night to the endeavor.

By the first month, the show already had hosted Rudy Ray Moore, a.k.a. Dolemite, the foul-mouthed rhyming '70s blaxploitation film icon. Future acts include Willie Tyler and Lester, Renaldo Ray of BET's Comicview and a highly recognizable name Freemon doesn't want published until agreements are finalized. (Hint: It will be dy-no-mite!) Audition showcases are also in the works for BET and Showtime at the Apollo.

Primarily an open mike, the venue draws some astounding comic minds, and minds not limited to the African-American community, either. Thunder Thursday crowds have laughed along with comedians black, white, brown, red, yellow, straight, gay, bi, male, female, the whole gamut. If they're funny, they perform, as the huge neon scarlet cock above the bar watches on.

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Eric A.T. Dieckman