Aloft Downtown Orlando
Ember Orlando
Order Up Orlando
Tag: WorthDoing

Get Fit Orlando!

Sometimes, my personal favorite fitness plan is fitness whole pizza in my mouth. Needless to say, this makes it even more crucial for me to stay active to help my body and mind stay healthy. Jogging around my College Park neighborhood is nice for about two weeks in the fall, and then becomes unbearably hot, and it’s totally impossible for me to stay motivated under these circumstances. So, how to stay motivated, active, fit and healthy here in Orlando this summer? Never fear, fitness buffs! There are gym and fitness club options to suit every level, goal, and budget! So, lace up those snazzy new sneakers you bought when you made that New Year’s resolution to start working out six months ago, and let’s hit the gym!

Looking for more than just a lonely row of exercise bikes and intimidating weight benches? Need some camaraderie in your fitness quest? Look no further than the Orlando Sport and Social Club, Orlando’s largest organizer of adult sports leagues! They organize leagues for flag football, softball, soccer, sand volleyball, and kickball, as well as happy hours, bar crawls, and other social events! The best of both worlds, fitness, bars and FUN! Check out to learn more!

Boxing at Orange Avenue Gym
Boxing at Orange Avenue Gym

Are you looking to take your fitness and athletic abilities to another level? Are you ready to commit to a community to like-minded folks looking to improve their body on every level, with coaches who will drive you to excel to the best of your capabilities? Well, Crossfit Milk District may be the fitness community for you. They consider all of their clients athletes, and help them train accordingly, with a consideration of the whole human body’s physical capabilities and needs. Head on over to and follow @CrossFitMilkDistrict on Instagram to get started!


Is indoor cycling more your style? Do you want fantastic instructors, great music, and a great environment to help you on your fitness journey? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, spin on over to CycleBar Winter Park, the place for premium indoor cycling in Winter Park! The offer classes open to all ages and fitness levels, offering an unparalleled multi sensory journey each time you spin! Each ride is complete with amazing music, stunning video-graphics, and rider-specific performance data in the CycleTheater. Rock the Ride at and @CycleBar on Instagram.

Are you ready for the ultimate gym experience? Do you want classes covering all the basics, such as ultimate cardio, kickboxing, and yoga? Looking for a gym that’s close to home? Orange Ave Gym has a state-of-the-art facility, offers flexible classes and instruction as well as membership options without contracts and registration fees! This gym is exactly what YOU need it to be! Their trainers are dedicated, experienced, and ready to help you get into the best shape of your life! Check out to find out more.

So, whether you’re a soft-bodied pizza fanatic looking to do some cardio so you can not be out of breath after walking to the corner store, or you’re a committed athlete with a desire to challenge your body to its physical limits, Orlando has the perfect fitness option for you. From organized sports leagues, intense whole-body training, and indoor cycling, to a classic and convenient gym experience, you will find YOUR fit with Orlando Sport and Social Club, Crossfit Milk District, CycleBar Winter Park, and Orange Ave Gym! I’m about to start my new gym regimen, but right after this slice of cheese with pineapples…



Get Ready For Summer With Fitlife Foods

          Summer is right around the corner, and that means it’s about to get a whole lot hotter outside. Making hot meals in the kitchen is starting to sound less and less appealing, and restaurants are often pricey and unhealthy. So, how to survive the summer, stay healthy, and enjoy delicious meals in the comfort of your own home? Fear not, Fitlife Foods is here to save your summer mealtimes! Healthy, gourmet, seasonal meals with YOU in mind. With pickup and delivery options as well as discounted rates with membership, Fitlife makes it easy as pie to take control of your food life!

            Fitlife started bringing delicious, convenient, quality meals to Orlando in 2016 with several local locations, including ones in Winter Park and the Dr. Phillips area. A company with a conscience, and an active member of the Orlando community, Fitlife strives to be a zero-waste operation through use of up-cycled materials, and encourages customers to return containers with a rewards system. You can feel good about becoming a part of the Fitlife community. Fitlife even offers a free program to help plan and maintain your healthy habits called Project U— get started today with a free Body Mass Index calculation and consultation! Who wouldn’t want professional help getting healthier for free? This is the VIP treatment!

Certified Wellness Coach and Community Store Leader

        So, you’re into the convenience and the personalized health program, but what about the most important thing: the food? Fitlife’s fresh prepared meals offer a plethora of dietary options (such as Vegetarian, Paleo, Low Carb or gluten free— all microwave ready), snacks and sweet treats, with 13 original spice blends and 39 sauces to keep things interesting! My personal favorite is the Gluten Free Corn Tortilla Chicken Enchilada Bake with Ancho Sauce. So tasty! Everything is portioned by calories with macro nutrient profiles accounted for and listed, so no nasty surprises, and you can control everything you put into your body. The menu is healthy, fresh, delicious and updated seasonally. Monthly featured fit meals are unique, changing selections which include menu concepts created by a professional  chef, as well as innovative and scrumptious suggestions from customers.

Fresh Prepared Meals (Including Pasta)

            And the best part is how simple it is: browse the menu online or stop by one of their locations, pick the meals you want and get them in-store, or sign up for delivery, and save 10% with membership. Basically, you can’t afford NOT to get your diet going with Fitlife Foods!

            Take control of your home dining experience this summer, and get started with Fitlife Foods! There is no time like the present to work on your health, wealth and happiness, and Fitlife is the perfect thing to get your new life in gear.

Ask about Project-U for a free BMI assessment


Worth Eating-North Quarter Tavern Brunch

            Nothing is more quintessentially “day off” than a fabulous brunch. Brunch is relaxation by nature, its very existence based on a schedule unhampered by the constant demands of the work week. Brunch is freedom, friends, drinks, and knowing that it’s about to be a great weekend! So, raise your $10 bottomless mimosa or sangria, and let’s toast to Sunday brunch at North Quarter Tavern!

            North Quarter Tavern is the ideal place to have your laid-back brunch dreams come true. Styled after New York taverns but with Orlando locals in mind, North Quarter is a break from the fussiness of fine dining without any concessions on quality! A project spearheaded by restaurant industry veterans, General Manager Heidi Skehan and Chef Harold Henderson, North Quarter Tavern is a neighborhood favorite dedicated to delicious, unpretentious dining and drinks. To top all that off, the menu is incredibly affordable, so you can keep coming back to try everything! With happy hour on weeknights from 4 to 7 p.m., and special events such as  their Monthly Neighborhood Patio Parties, Fish Taco Fridays and Grilled Cheese Mondays, you’ll want to come see what’s happening every night of the week.

Bottomless Mimosas

            Anyway, back to what’s important: brunch! What brunch would be complete without a Bloody Mary to help wash things down? North Quarter is home to its very own house Bloody Mary bar, with all the trappings to make your very own, customized Bloody Mary crafted perfectly to your palate! Whether you’re looking for a hangover cure after a fun night out, or a classic drink to get your weekend off to a great start, the Bloody Mary bar has what you want! A perfect compliment to house crafted meats and cheeses, made with close attention to local ingredients and quality. If a Bloody Mary isn’t really your thing, but a cold brew is, North Quarter has you covered! Wide selection of craft beers, house wines, cocktails, and other spirits. Does it get any better than this?

House Bloody Mary Bar

           North Quarter Tavern has menu offerings for every appetite, from crispy fried chicken and waffles with house sauce, syrup, and a pickle on the side, to brunch pizza, made with country gravy, sausage, sautéed peppers, green onion, and a fried egg. What an innovative take on brunch AND pizza! With a menu like this, you’ll have to plan on having brunch here every week. If you are feeling comfort food, their French toast is classically prepared and served with smoked, cured meat. Vegan, vegetarian, or looking for a light bite to eat? Worry not, because North Quarter’s menu includes light fare like biscuits and jam, as well as other vegan and vegetarian options. This is the perfect place to go with that group of friends who can never agree on a place to eat— North Quarter has something for even the most selective palates.

House Pickles

            North Quarter Tavern is the place to be for brunch, happy hour, and fun times in general! Grab your friends, co-workers, date, mother, father, sister, brother, and get ready for a brunch for the ages! This is a dining experience you won’t want to miss out on.

Brown food taste good!


Say Boo-YA! Bulla Gastrobar Has Artisanal Spanish Cuisine Covered

Do you have a sophisticated palate? Have you been searching all over Orlando for a refined and elegant place for artisanal cuisine and unique craft cocktails? The perfect place to share tapas and Spanish-style sharing plates with your closest friends, family, and co-workers? Well, look no further. Bulla Gastrobar in Winter Park is the place to be for your next group outing! Enjoy unique cocktails and a menu meant to be shared in a posh yet laid-back atmosphere, right in Winter Park!

Enjoy the atmosphere, dining inside or on the patio, and start your dining experience with one of Bulla’s signature craft cocktails. The Lemongrass Collins is a favorite, crafted perfectly with St. Germain, Wint & Lila gin, lemongrass syrup, and cucumber. Refreshing, crisp, and so tantalizing! Perfect for the approaching warm summer evenings. If you’re feeling like something a bit sweeter, to mend your broken heart, perhaps, ask for the Heartbreaker: Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum, Aperol, Lustau East India Solera sherry, and strawberry rosemary syrup. Share it with your sweetheart! These drinks are a great start to a truly magical night (or day!) of dining.

Lemongrass Collins(Right) Sangria Blanca-Cava, peach schnapps, triple sec, strawberries, blueberries(Left)

Select your meal and aperitifs from one of Bulla’s six different menus— brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktail, fixed courses, and the rotating, special Market Menu, with local selections that change bi-weekly. Ask your server for this menu specifically! By request only. With so many selections, there is sure to be something to suit every palate, and the rotating menu is motivation to keep coming back!

Take your senses on an Iberian adventure and start your meal with the Gazpacho Andaluz, a Spanish chilled vegetable soup, expertly seasoned with robust flavor and smooth without the addition of creams. Another show-stopper, the Garbanzo-Frito, is a chickpea stew with kale and chorizo. The heartiest, most aromatic and delicious stew you will find in Orlando!

Gazpacho Andaluz

If you show up for brunch, be sure to try the Huevos Bulla, a deliciously Bulla take on a breakfast classic, with eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, and potato foam, anointed with aromatic truffle oil. This is a brunch for the gods, and you just so happen to be invited!

For dinner, the Mero en Adobo is sure to delight— grouper deliciously fried Cádiz style, aioli potatoes, and avocado, with a seasonal salad on the side. Bulla also offers an extensive selection of cured meats, including Jamon De Bellota Fermin (acorn fed pure Iberian ham)— wow!!!

Mero en Adobo (Chef Felix Plascenia prepared)

Starting with the cuisine served fresh from specialty Josper Ovens and Grills in the kitchen, through the real saffron in the paella, your experience is sure to be one to remember! A good meal brings people together, strengthens bonds, and lets friends and family take a moment of true enjoyment in this fast-paced world. Bulla is the perfect spot for a gourmet dinner with a few great friends, sharing drinks, tapas, and making memories. The food, the ambiance, and the staff make Bulla a fantastically special place for brunch, lunch, dinner, and drinks.

Don't Skip Dessert
Flan De Coco-Coconut flan, passion fruit sorbet(Left) Caramelized brioche, turrón ice cream, honey(Right)


Art and Community: David Matteson

David Matteson is an artist, curator, and arts advocate extraordinaire. A graduate of Rollins College, Matteson is currently Associate Curator of Education at the Orlando Museum of Art, and has been included in exhibitions at A Place Gallery, the Orlando Museum of Art, A.I.R Gallery in New York, and Art In Odd Places Orlando. 

Matteson’s artistic practice is focused on identity, taking a confessional approach to multiple mediums, including book arts, journaling, and performance. Much of his practice is driven by confessional writing, which he uses in combination with visual imagery to create intimate, vulnerable and heartfelt work.

As a curator, Matteson is dedicated to creating inclusive and engaging programming that emphasizes accessibility. The Museum currently offers many programs for community members, such as the Art With Purpose program at the Zebra Coalition. The weekly program introduces at-risk LGBTQ youth to constructive creative projects and facilitated studio activities relating to identity, such as visual journaling. The program was spearheaded by another Rollins graduate, Grace Loescher, and is currently directed by Matteson. 

OMA Sugar Skull-10889

Other programs Matteson oversees include Art’s The Spark, which has a mission of increasing the museum’s accessibility to memory-impaired individuals. The program provides guided tours of the galleries for individuals and their caregivers as well as art-related discussion and private studio time, and is free of charge. Creative Connections is a similarly structured free program, offering sensory-friendly guided tours of the galleries as well as private studio sessions, catered towards adults with learning and developmental disabilities. Off the OMA campus, the Coalition for the Homeless and OMA offer a weekly Family Art Reach program at the Coalition’s facilities, with studio activities guided by an instructor, which is also free of charge.

If you are interested in hearing David Matteson speak, he will be giving a lecture on the Wyeth family of 20th Century Realist painters on March 8 at noon as a part of the Art Sandwiched In program. He also hosts first Wednesday gallery tours of the permanent collection and current exhibitions on view.

Image credit: Orlando Museum of Art

HS Tour-17


Engaging In Art With Amy Galpin

Amy Galpin’s approach towards curation is constantly evolving. “I am drawn to strong sight lines and work that is multi-layered and rich in content. I like to create moments of wonder and also provide content that people can choose to read or ignore.” Galpin has worked at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum since 2013. She previously worked as associate curator of art of the Americas at the San Diego Museum of Art, gallery coordinator at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, a non-profit gallery with a mission of promoting women’s contributions to the arts, and has held faculty positions at Depaul University, Columbia College, and University of Illinois, Chicago. Since she has been in Orlando, Galpin has facilitated many awe-inspiring and thought-provoking exhibitions at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, as well as programs providing our community with an opportunity for deeper understanding of and engagement with the arts.

Galpin has an interest in creating exhibitions that reflect current events and elicit dialogue and debate. Her curatorial projects since working at CFAM express this interest, with the inclusion of two of the most critically engaging exhibitions to grace the walls of an Orlando museum in recent memory— Fractured Narratives: Strategies to Engage (2014) and Displacement: Symbols and Journeys (2016). Galpin is currently working on several upcoming projects, including an exhibition titled “Time as Landscape: Inquiries of Art and Science” and several long-term projects, including one on Margaret Bourke-White and a show on the relationship between modern American art and Christianity.


As curator of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, an educational museum, she fulfills an additional role as an educator through the creation of programs and exhibitions reflecting CFAM’s mission. “Teaching is at the core of our mission. We always ask ourselves when planning a program: How does this relate to our mission? How does this relate to teaching?” The Cornell Fine Arts Museum occupies a special place in the community because of its free admission and programming. Galpin says she is very proud to work at a museum that is free, stating “Not all museums are able to do this—so it is a real treat to work somewhere that can offer opportunities for families, for example, without asking them to pay.”

There are many opportunities to engage with Amy Galpin and discussions about contemporary art at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, including weekly tours on Saturdays at 1 PM, as well as Sundays at 1 PM at the Alfond Inn. There is a lecture by Dr. Adrienne Childs, co-curator of The Black Figure In The European Imaginary on March 8th at 6 PM, and a performance art piece at Knowles Chapel on March 21st at 6 PM. All programing is free and open to the public.



Anna Cruz and Adam Lavigne Collaborate

Anna Cruz and Adam Lavigne are luminaries of Orlando’s DIY art scene. A collaborative artistic effort, and each a powerhouse in their individual practices, the pair’s zines, murals, and other works are a presence in a vibrant and active community of artists, makers, and other creatives. I first came across Anna Cruz’s work in 2015 as a part of Agencies, a feminist art show that was originally held in now-defunct the Space, a crusty and enigmatic venue above the Anthony’s Pizza on Colonial Drive that had mostly hosted punk shows until 2014. When the Space shut down and  Time Waste Management’s A Place Gallery opened in the “sister space” next door, Anna and Adam held their first collaborative show, Do Aliens Perceive Kerning? as the gallery’s inaugural event.

Cruz’s graphite drawings and mixed media works are intriguingly expressive, frequently employing text and sequential formats as well as self portraiture and subtle references to art history. Anna says about her studio practice, “My background is in painting, although drawing has always been my favorite medium. I like the simplicity that line allows for in describing form, and then figuring out how shape and color can play into my image-making without disrupting the drawing. Recently, I have been making work in the form of murals, zines, digital collages, and .gifs developed from imagery and text I find from the internet.” She lists her biggest artistic influences as Matisse and Picasso, as well as contemporary painters such as Dana Schutz and Dasha Shishkin.


Lavigne has an academic and studio background in drawing, and says he only worked with graphite, colored pencil, pastel, and other dry media for a long time. Recently, however, within the last year, he has started painting on walls. He draws inspiration from alternative and small press comics and manga, as well as artists such as David Shrigley and Dash Shaw. “The idea of a comic has always attracted me, but I always end up making something that’s not really a comic.” Lavigne and Cruz both list a week-long workshop with artist Aidan Koch at the Sequential Artists’ Workshop in Gainesville as a major influence on their practice.

Lately, the two have been creating and releasing zines under their imprint, Lemon Press, which recently had tables at both Orlando Zine Fest at Will’s Pub and St. Pete Zine Fest. The first title they released collaboratively under the Lemon Press name was Art Historical Survey, a zine of drawings created on samples of colored paper the two passed back and forth in a drawing-and-responding process. They are both currently attending a residency in North Carolina with other Orlando artists. You can see their work here in in town at the Orlando Museum of Art gift shop, where they have zines and paintings available for sale as well as the District at Mills 50, where their collaborative mural (a part of the show Permanent vacation) graces the walls. Follow them on Tumblr for a look at more of their work:  Here and Here



Studio Visit: Lesley Silvia

Lesley Silvia always seems to have an incredibly ambitious art project in progress in her home studio in Casselberry. The artist moves between multiple mediums in her explorations of identity, perceived hysteria, mental illness, and dysfunction in human connection, creating large-scale plaster sculptures, intimate 2D paintings and cut paper, as well as time-based video and sound works, and projects based in relational aesthetics. Reminiscent of contemporary artist Kiki Smith, Silvia frequently chooses animals as one focus of her subject matter— a cat with two bodies, a wolf with two heads, a fox with three heads— using them as empathetic analogies for amplified and distorted human characteristics and emotions. The resulting works are uncanny and striking manifestations of the anxieties of identity, which seem to draw from some universal anima and animus of our collective unconscious.

Frequently, Silvia’s sculptures and larger works begin as simple pencil sketches in a personal sketchbook, which she translates expertly into 3D, using a variety of traditional and non-traditional materials, including taxidermy supplies.  While her work is conceptually driven, Silvia is equally committed to craft and expression, her own hand and skill visible across the many diverse disciplines she invokes in her practice.    


Having recently graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with her master’s degree in studio art in mid-2016, Silvia has carried the momentum of her thesis show That’s Hysterical! into a flurry of local exhibitions and appearances. In September of 2016, she participated in Art In Odd Places Orlando, an outdoor contemporary art festival, working with her husband Jared Sylvia on Rhizomatic Sounds. Sounds was an interactive installation that allowed participants to experience hearing spontaneously generated sentences in an unexpected location— right outside the Orlando Public Library downtown! More recently, Silvia’s work has graced the walls and spaces of a number of beloved local establishments, her delicate paper cut outs framed and displayed at Redlight Redlight, and her large, plaster sculptures and a video at Gallery at Avalon Island as part of the Artborne Annual group exhibition.

Things haven’t slowed down for Lesley Silvia in 2017. In the past several weeks, she has worked tirelessly creating new work for the FLAME group show at Orange Studio, curated by Winston Taitt, which opens on February 16th. She is also currently working on her addition to the new Sam Flax wall mural project, accompanied by contributions by artists Boy Kong, Chaya Av, Chris McAlister, Danny Rock, Jack Void, and SKIP. Be sure to check it out next time you are at Sam Flax! If you keep track of what Lesley Silvia is up to, chances are you’ll get a good introduction to all the best art that is happening in Orlando.



Orlando Indie Comedy Festival: Third Time’s Still a Charm

Three years ago, the first Orlando Indie Comedy Festival was announced; I was at least as skeptical as I was excited. I watched the comedy scene grow over the last three years I was part of it. Performers multiplied like Gremlins. Open mics sprang up at whatever hookah-bar-possibly-drug-front would have us. And the comedy was only getting funnier. 

I lived in Orlando for eleven years, was heavily involved with the music scene, and I knew how difficult it could be to generate interest in artistic events and endeavors. Fickle and fluctuating crowds left independently produced comedy shows look turned inside out, for their emptiness. 

I wasn’t sure if Orlando needed, or even wanted, a full-on comedy festival.

But that didn’t matter. It was going to happen.

After a heartfelt personal pitch for Maria Bamford to headline (she sweetly declined with a very charming video), organizers secured popular punk rock/everyman headliner, Kyle Kinane, and comics from all across the country descended on Orlando for a long weekend at a festival that was, quite frankly, trial by fire.

The shows were packed. In some cases, people were turned away from smaller venues Bull & Bush and Spacebar for fear of violating fire code. Local comics housed their visiting peers to help keep travel costs low.

Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe people only came out because they were itching for something new.

But year two yielded the same results. Eddie Pepitone and Sean Patton co-headlined. First timers, returning comics, and specialty show: Late Late Breakfast (Chicago) lit up stages in the Milk and Mills 50 Districts. Lightning strikes twice.

Due to very unfortunate circumstances, the tragic passing of festival co-founder, Orlando comedian Matt Gersting, the 2016 festival wouldn’t happen until January 2017. But the passion and momentum sustained from the first two years. OICF 3 proved to be a much-needed release for many, due to the unprecedented darkness of the year; in fact, it was a smashing success. 

It provided Orlando audiences with four days of non-stop laughs, comics the opportunity to grow their fanbase, and everyone the chance to come together, meet new people, and possibly make lifelong friends. OICF  donates proceeds to mental health organizations, and raised over $10,000 in its first three years.

I caught up with several out-of-state comics to see what drew them Orlando, what moments stood out, and the appeal of comedy festivals as a whole.

Photo Credit: Jon Yehling

Mary-Devon Dupuy (New Orleans, LA) :
I had heard good things about the festival from friends from New Orleans as well as Chicago. I’m only two years into doing comedy, so this was my first festival outside of my hometown. Late Late Breakfast is an amazing show. Ian Aber (Atlanta) eating cookies off a paper towel conveyor belt had me in tears. Orlando had a really incredible group. I laughed until I cried a few times. It was challenging for me, and that’s a good thing.

Rachel Weeks (Denver, CO):
The fest was full of awesome moments. I’m always delighted to see Jackie Kashian (Los Angeles) live. She’s one of those performers that makes you feel her stories in your gut. And Late Late Breakfast is a wild and crazy joy that prioritizes silliness, which I love. We Still Like You is my favorite show in the country right now and adds a nice mix of funny and real. But my favorite moments were just catching up with comics I haven’t seen in awhile and meeting new people who all love to do comedy. Comedy festivals are like summer camp for comics. They recharge your batteries, remind you why you love comedy and encourage you to get back out there and do it.


Photo Credit: Jon Yehling

Scott Eason (Huntsville, AL) :
I had several friends that had done the festival previously and sung its praises so I was excited to see for myself. Late Late Breakfast is always an awesome show. Watching Ethan Simmons-Patterson (Brooklyn) eat a sardine off of Dave Losso’s (Chicago) chest will forever be burned into my mind. Festivals are an opportunity to meet people from all over the country and see their comedy and have them see yours. You can make valuable connections as well as friends that can last a lifetime.

Aaron Naylor (Kansas City, MO) :
The most appealing aspect of doing a festival in Orlando was seeing all of the awesome people that I met from the 2015 OICF. Also, the weather. My three favorite moments in no particular order would be a beautifully drunk Sean Finnerty (Irish comic from Orlando, now in New York) asking the Barley & Vine crowd to stand for the Irish National Anthem and then singing “Zombie” by The Cranberries. The whole crowd joined in and it was beautiful. Another moment was when Danny Maupin (Chicago) played “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys at Whiskey Lou’s and then led a 50-person conga line. The last one would have to be a collective of all the goofs and yuks we had in the Travelodge. So many funny and amazing people coming together and having fun was the best.

The good times of the Orlando Indie Comedy Festival are not confined to the shows and stages. The streets of the Milk District and Mills 50 come alive with dozens of comics, some old friends, some meeting for the first time, who can’t help but keep the party going. It’s like an encore for bystanders.

If you’re not careful, that energy can be contagious, and you might find yourself lost in a moment where everything feels like it could be okay.

They say laughter is the best medicine because it is. It’s ours, and because it’s unregulated, it’s allowed to work wonders. 


Orlando Indie Comedy Festival: The Result and Reflection of Orlando’s Burgeoning Stand-Up Scene

In 2011, Orlando had two regular weekly open mics devoted exclusively to stand-up comedy. Six years later, there’s a mic, showcase, or show every night of the week, promoters bringing national comics to bars of all sizes, and an annual comedy festival, now in its third year.

For whatever reason, stand-up comedy finally exploded in Orlando, FL.


Photo Credit: Jon Yehling.

There has long been a stand-up presence in Orlando, between Bonkerz Comedy rooms and The Improv, but there hadn’t been that nightly, exciting, underground aspect of stand-up one associates with larger cities in America. Shows were relegated to the weekends at two-drink minimum clubs cycling through touring headliners while occasionally allowing a handful of rotating locals to host or feature.

Today, the Orlando comedy landscape has evolved into a much larger, more diverse, and far more frequent beast.

In The Improv’s downtown absence, Kyle Raker (Norsekorea Presents) brings bigger, if slightly cultish, acts to Backbooth.

“There’s little I can do to guarantee people will actively seek out upcoming comedy shows,” Raker explains. “ H owever, through the efforts of the local comics, it seems that a greater spotlight is getting shone on shows of all sizes here in town.

We’ve managed to bring some real fun shows here, like Randy and Mr. Lahey of Trailer Park Boys, Eric Andre, and Brian Posehn. I definitely feel like a part of the success of those shows has been built on the efforts of the people who are in the trenches on a weekly basis.”


Photo Credit: Jon Yehling

Smaller bars, like Bull & Bush and Spacebar, launched recurring comedy showcases, and Orlando staple, Will’s Pub, eventually dipped a big toe in the indie comedy pool.

Bull & Bush’s showcases on the first and third Saturdays each month host primarily Central Florida comics, but have attracted comics from around the state, eager to perform for attentive crowds in the cozy neighborhood pub.

Spacebar’s weekly Wednesday showcase, now in its fourth year, provides an opportunity to catch touring nationals. Ben Kronberg (Comedy Central), Sam Morril (Conan), and Zach Sherwin (Epic Rap Battles of History) have all appeared at the stage-less, intimate bar.

Will’s Pub was home to “Shady Brunch,” an early afternoon Sunday showcase where admission included a free Bloody Mary or Mimosa.

The Orlando comedy scene has grown considerably, in that there is actually a scene now.

In fact, it’s been around long enough to experience the most bittersweet of all smaller-big-city scenes: the uprooting of talent to larger pastures.

Comedian Heather Shaw hosts multiple shows and stand-up mics around town.

“When I started, the Orlando comedy scene was a powerhouse of talent,” recalls Shaw. “The scene today is a bit more sparse but, really, it’s due to all of those fantastic comics I started with moving off and ‘moving up,’ if you will. I think these kinds of things are cyclical and we’ll start to soon see more talent from new comics and more growth overall.”

In fact, in less than a decade, many comics who got their start in Orlando, absorbing generous stage time provided by their peers, have taken what they’ve learned to New York, L.A., Chicago, Atlanta, and New Orleans. Some are touring. Some are racking up TV credits. Some are sharing stages with their heroes.

And what they’ll forever have in common is they once called Orlando home.

Check out four days of comics from all over the country at the Orlando Indie Comedy Festival, January 19-22, 2017.

**All photos courtesy of Jon Yehling.