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Off Cabot in Beverly promises locally sourced comedy

The comedy club Off Cabot opens Friday in Beverly.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

With the opening this weekend of a new 150-seat club in Beverly, local comedy is getting a boost.

The first show Saturday night at Off Cabot: Comedy & Events features three Boston comics at different stages of their careers: Tony V. is a veteran with roots in the ‘80s Boston comedy boom, Corey Rodrigues is a younger headliner whose 2020 Dry Bar Comedy special has had 2.5 million online views, and Laura Severse is working herself into headlining territory.

Severse, who just returned from exploring the club scene in Los Angeles, is excited to be playing a new room on opening night, and to be on a bill in such distinguished company. “You’ve got wildly different perspectives that are going to hit that stage that night,” she says, “which is going to be amazing.”


Many of the comics on the club’s schedule are Boston headliners, including Kelly MacFarland, Jimmy Dunn, and Dave Russo, or up-and-comers like Don Zollo and Brian Glowacki. Touring comics also have upcoming dates at Off Cabot, but many of them have Boston connections, including Erica Rhodes, Emma Willmann, Valerie Tosi, and Beverly native Mary Kennedy.

“It’s not just somewhere where it’s only going to be national people,” says John Tobin, whose John Tobin Presents also books Laugh Boston, Nick’s Comedy Stop, and a growing number of venues locally and nationally. “We want this to be the local place in the street, where local people have the edge.”

Producing partners J. Casey Soward (left) and John Tobin inside Off Cabot, a former music venue that's been converted into a 150-seat comedy club.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Severse has headlined Nick’s and The Comedy Scene in Foxborough, both Tobin rooms of a similar size, and is hoping to do the same at Off Cabot eventually. For her, it’s an opportunity to create a fanbase on the North Shore and one more possible step toward making stand-up comedy a full-time career. “Maybe if somebody sees me up at the Cabot, they’ll come down and see me at Nick’s,” she says. “So it’s another thing to be able to build on.”


Off Cabot on Wallis Street is a joint venture between John Tobin Presents and the Cabot, an 850-seat theater a few blocks away. Tobin’s group has produced larger shows at the Cabot for the past five years. “We kind of already knew there was an appetite there,” he says.

The idea started with J. Casey Soward, the executive director of the Cabot and Tobin’s producing partner for both the theater and the new space. Soward, a transplant to downtown Beverly, was walking home in November after the Boston Comedy Blowout, a show he and Tobin had produced. “It was a packed house at the Cabot,” he says. “And I just left there feeling like we really need to have this in Beverly, like every weekend.”

That’s when he passed 9 Wallis, a music club that had shut down permanently during the pandemic. “It was like a lightbulb went off, that this is something that John and I should talk about,” Soward says. They signed a lease just before Christmas and announced their plans a few weeks later.

The plan is to start with shows on Fridays and Saturdays and then expand to the rest of the week. And while the name of the club does include the word “Events,” it is intended as a dedicated comedy club. There may be podcast tapings and music acts somewhere down the road, and “Events” is also a nod to the fact that the space will be available for rentals on off nights.


“The concept is that it’s a comedy club,” says Soward. “We’ll find some other alternative programming in there. But we definitely wanted to make it a focused place for comedy, because we just believe that the art form deserves a dedicated space. And that it really is a perfect space for comedy.”

A new club is also a sign that the local entertainment scene is growing again after losing venues during lockdown. ImprovBoston shuttered its theater in Harvard Square and is now doing a residency at the Rockwell in Somerville while it plans for a permanent home. The Comedy Studio lost the venue it had opened in 2018 in Union Square in Somerville; it’s been doing shows at Vera’s nearby while preparing to open a new space in Harvard Square. Now, Off Cabot is springing up where 9 Wallis fell.

After having to get creative when indoor entertainment was off limits, Tobin is happy to have weathered that period and to be back in clubs. “We did shows outside, we did them at drive-in movie theaters, we did them in parking lots,” he says. “We did one out in Gillette Stadium with an inflatable screen, and the generator went down and the sound went off. It was being piped into people’s cars on their FM radios and the screen just started deflating. … That was so 2020, right?”


Tobin’s group is expanding its footprint around the country, which may give local comics an opportunity to stretch into other cities. “They may not be ready quite yet for a 300-seat comedy club,” he says. “But stages like Off Cabot give you that opportunity for more seasoning, before they headline a 300-seat room. It’s all a progression, right?”


With Tony V., Corey Rodrigues, and Laura Severse. March 19 at 7 p.m. (sold out) and 9 p.m. At Off Cabot: Comedy & Events, 9 Wallis St., Beverly, $25.

Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at