“It Wasn’t Pretty, But The Beginning Is Usually Pretty Rough:” A TDQ Q&A With Comedian Richy Lala, Part 2

Richy Lala

In the spring of 1990 Richy Lala filmed a pilot titled "The Fresh Prince From Bel-Air." Richy played the part of a rich translplant from Southern California to Western Philadelphia. His new-found friend, played by Will Smith, would help him make a new life in very different surroundings. Studio execs passed on the pilot but soon came up with "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" after tweaking the story slightly.

TDQ: What was your first gig?

Lala: At the Milkboy Cafe in Ardmore, Pennsylvania…once the label for such bands as Digable Planets, they opened a modest music cafe that I produced a show featuring the comics I had been seeing at local clubs…I’d book them and host the show myself…it wasn’t pretty for me…but the beginning is usually pretty rough.

TDQ: Tell us about your gig hosting open mic night at the Funky Buddha.

Lala: When I moved to Florida almost eight years ago now, I first met Will Watkins…who filmed his set in the same show at the Buddha as I did…there weren’t too many places back then to perform and he introduced me to then-host, Renda Writer, a local poet. After religiously attending their open mic for three years, the Buddha and Renda parted ways. The owners asked if I’d host, since then we have gone from a 20-seat venue to a 120-seat venue…with consistently sold out shows. And the door money we raise goes to feeding the homeless…we charge $3 or two canned goods as admission. And everyone is always welcome to drop off canned goods or donate more directly to Boca Helping Hands. We average 30 performers every Wednesday and well over 100 audience members per show. Ten years running, it’s the longest south Florida open mic, from comics to poets to musicians.
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