Chuckles at Cheese & Chong’s
Alex Hall, 11-29-2018

Comedian Matt Farkas emcees the weekly Late Night Laughs show at Cheese and Chong's in Highland Square.
Stephen Mulé
Matt Farkas, host of Late Night Laughs at Cheese & Chong’s in Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood, says that comedy is “culturally important” and “it’s good for ya.” The crowd in the bar/restaurant’s small space seemed to agree when the Falls Free Press visited on October 16th.

Cheese & Chong’s is named for the legendary cannabis-loving comedy duo Cheech and Chong. Likely conceived, therefore, as a cure for the munchies, the restaurant serves up macaroni and cheese with all manner of accompaniments. The Quattro Formaggio Pizza Mac, for one example, is as comforting as it sounds, but was served lukewarm with the cheese sauce lacking salt.

As for the comedy, Late Night Laughs began in May of this year, and has clearly caught on. A respectable-sized crowd shuffled in quickly at just about the show’s scheduled start time, but the comedians themselves showed up late, something Farkas all too happily joked about. The performers who were new to comedy were better than what might have been expected, but still paled in comparison to the experienced comics, including Farkas, headliner Brett Thomas, and Samantha Archual. Self-deprecation was the theme running through all the sets, from people in mental institutions, to suicide plans, to tales of drunken shenanigans. Farkas himself comes off as the most confident comic, which is either because he is or because the emcee position affords him the ability to pass the mic. Archual seems less confident, but still professional, and had the audience laughing right away with a key line that referenced the #MeToo Movement. Thomas, meanwhile, really delivered as the show’s headliner, joking about his inability to pick up on social cues, possibly indicative of Asperger syndrome, and using self-referentiality to pick up even more laughs.

Archual, Farkas, and Thomas do perform outside Late Night Laughs at comedy clubs in Cleveland—a city that Farkas says has as big a comedy scene as cities four times its size—as well as the Funny Stop Comedy Club in Cuyahoga Falls, which isn’t open on Tuesdays for competition. Some comics have been known to come through town on their way to gigs in other cities and perform their routine for the Late Night Laughs house, while others come through to occasionally, as Rodney Dangerfield put it, “break in jokes.” In this way, Late Night Laughs is sort of like an Akron Comedy Cellar.

Farkas will keep the show free on Tuesday nights, but has discussed the possibility of a showcase on a different night to see how comedy will go over as a ticketed event in the space in the future.

Late Night Laughs at Cheese & Chongs, 812 W Market St, Akron, takes place Tuesday nights from 9-11:30pm.

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