John Armstrong headlines Hilarities


On a night the Cavs chose to play most of a game well against Golden State, only to blow it at the end, John Armstrong and his supporting cast went the distance with ease.


Quite literally from the first second of the show to the last ovation, it was as close to perfection as comedy will ever allow. If you’re Cleveland proud then you should put pictures of Bill Squire, Joe Briggs and John Armstrong (who sells cool merch pics!) on your fridge because they made us look great.

The fact that Hilarities was the setting guaranteed that the main room, the service, the staff and the food would be equally stellar. And they absolutely were! If you’ve been to Hilarities then you already know. It’s one of the very best comedy venues in the country.


As such, Hilarities provided Mr. John Armstrong an opportunity to headline the main room for the first time. If you missed it, you’re lucky that John is so funny. Because after his performance Friday night you will probably get another chance sometime soon. Don’t fuck it up.

People reference red flags a lot lately. But that’s pretty negative. And also there were none to be seen. So let’s talk green flags…

…When Bill Squire is the first comic up, that says a lot. Unpredictable jokes and an effortless delivery that comes from being on stage more times than even he can count. I’ve seen Bill perform possibly 100 times and the guy can write a joke. Or maybe he doesn’t even write jokes and just shows up and pieces it together as he goes. His conversational approach makes every set unique and personal. Catch him on WMMS with the Alan Cox Show or go to one of his shows. Tickets for Bill Squire’s Christmakwanzakah are on sale now. The lineup is strong, to say the least.

Now, when Bill Squire destroys, even by Bill Squire standards, it almost makes you worry for the ones who have to follow him. Well, worry no more. Because Joe Briggs got the memo that there was a comedy show and he might as well have ridden a unicorn in and passed out money. Because that’s how audiences treat Joe. Nobody is more likable. I heard Joe was once thrown out of a bar and I believe in our economy more than I believe that. Tom Hanks can photobomb all the weddings he wants, he’s still a golem compared to JB (I honestly don’t think anybody calls him that but I feel like I’m saying his name a lot). Joe Briggs just funnies up the whole place and then awkwardly exits stage left.

In between, he told a few stories. Many comics, if not all, tell stories. Not like Joe. He can make going out to get the mail one of the funniest things you’ll ever hear. And I think he actually did just that Friday.

So what do you do after two of your comedy friends try to sabotage your big moment by being overly-hilarious? You come out and drop a set that makes people stand in line for an hour to get a picture and a word with you after they just heard you talk for almost an hour. Friday night’s headliner went with that option.

John Armstrong was born to make you laugh. Bill is cynical and can make diabolical topics feel playful. Joe Briggs is a walking good time. John Armstrong is usually off somewhere bartending or being a great father with questionable verbiage and then gives a performance that has to shock even him.

The dude is smooth. You’re not going to feel like you know John by the end of his set. You really will know him. And his son. And why Coolio makes him horny to this day. (RIP Coolio!). John’s comedy is much like catching up with a relative you really enjoy being around but don’t get to see enough. You just want to hear what he has to say.


He’ll charm you like Briggs then make you laugh so hard you’ll cry at something that also makes you question your values, like Squire.


John Armstrong. Headliner. Remember the name.

In all, the setting, lineup and performances could not have been any better. And the main room was so packed that the balcony was even open. So Cleveland should be proud of the way they showed up for three of their own. And man, did it pay off!

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