Laughing Skull owner starts new comedy club at Battery Omni

Marshall Chiles, owner of The Laughing Skull Lounge, has agreed to do weekend comedy shows in the ballroom at the Battery Omni Hotel starting March 26, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com
Marshall Chiles, owner of The Laughing Skull Lounge, has agreed to do weekend comedy shows in the ballroom at the Battery Omni Hotel starting March 26, 2021. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Marshall Chiles now has comedy shows in three locations including Center Stage

Marshall Chiles, who has owned the Laughing Skull Lounge comedy club in Midtown, continues to branch out: he is starting a temporary comedy club in the main ballroom at the Omni Hotel at the Battery.

He had pondered opening a regular comedy club next to a coffee shop in the Battery itself, but the leasing prices were cost-prohibitive.

The Omni is a more economical way for him to provide comedic entertainment in a bustling new entertainment zone. He said the primary downside is having to build up and take down chairs and tables every week. Plus, the Omni will have conferences, dinners and wedding events in the ballroom some weekends as well. And they’ll be nights when the Atlanta Braves have home games that won’t make sense either.

Once the pandemic is over, Chiles said he’ll be able to accommodate up to 360 people. Right now, he can fit 120 with proper social distancing and masking protocols in place. Or if demand is softer, he can shrink the room to 2/3 the size or even 1/3 the size. They could use the bar area as well down the road if need be.

For now, he’s bringing in local comedic talent for “best of” shows at the Omni. As of today, his opening weekend Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. shows are already sold out, with tickets still available for 10:30 p.m. Saturday at $25 apiece.

He also recently reopened the Laughing Skull Lounge on Valentine’s Day weekend after nearly a year shut down. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in such a tiny space that normally holds just 80 audience members, he has it currently capped at 28. Hopefully, that will change soon as the vaccine rollout continues.

Chiles is also running a variety show, with a mix of comedy and other acts, at Center Stage on occasional dates.

Right before COVID, Kevin Hart had committed to 40 dates at Laughing Skull to prepare for a Netflix special, and Hart was about halfway through when the pandemic shut the club down. The club is Chiles’ baby. He had helped build the local comedy scene in that modest space.

“I was scared when we had to shut down and then stayed closed for months,” Chiles said. “I cried.”

The break did give Chiles time to embark on an idea that he had percolating in his brain for years: “Stand Up Socials.” He takes clips of comics in a Zoom-like setup and then sends people into breakout rooms to discuss what they just saw for about three to four minutes. He’d throw in some seed questions for them to talk about as well, like, “What’s your favorite comedic TV show?”

He has done 15 so far, targeting it as a corporate team-building exercise. “It’s a new way to experience stand-up comedy,” he said.

"Stand Up Socials" provides team-building exercises online using stand-up comedy clips. MARSHALL CHILES
"Stand Up Socials" provides team-building exercises online using stand-up comedy clips. MARSHALL CHILES

Credit: Marshall Chlies

Credit: Marshall Chlies

Chiles said he loves producing live comedy shows, but he wants to build a viable virtual business so he can eventually live on the beach or travel with his wife.

IF YOU GO

The Omni Comedy Club

8 p.m. Friday, March 26; 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 27

$25

625 Circle 75 Parkway SE, Atlanta.

laughingskulllounge.com

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