First things first: The downstairs comedy club will remain, though offerings will be diversified to include live music, game shows and karaoke competitions when there’s no comedian scheduled. But it sounds like live entertainment will get serious competition from televisions — six 10-foot projection screens and one 20-foot HD screen — and games. Chairs can be removed to make room for full-sized “cruise ship shuffleboard” courts, bocce courts and corn hole games, with room for pool tables, skee-ball machines, table shuffleboard and darts.
The street level bar, which I found about as interesting as the lobby bar at a Ramada, will get a fresh new look and host open mike comedy, trivia and a weekly karaoke league. A sidewalk patio is also in the works.
This shouldn’t have too much of an effect on the D.C. comedy scene: The Improv, the Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse and a number of other small clubs still offer headliner-quality acts as well as weekly open mikes. But it’s telling that Riot Act, with big-name comics and a location in a neighborhood that gets plenty of foot traffic, couldn’t make it work for a full year before deciding to try a different format.